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Seal Impressions on Jars from Ebla in the Late Early Bronze Age

Author(s): Stefania Mazzoni

Source: American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 88, No. 4 (Oct., 1984), p. 488
Published by: Archaeological Institute of America
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Accessed: 08/01/2010 19:29

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American Journal of Archaeology.

religion,'8 the man-eating lion may be an older Ca- Dab'a that it is carvedin a style dependenton, but not
naanite concept but one that would be especially fa- belonging to, known Syrian cylinder seals and that it
vored by persons living in Egypt, where the image of may be the product of a local seal cutter. This seal
the lion was closely linked with the all powerful king. cutter probably worked in the eighteenth century
The associationof lion and serpent in the Dab'a seal, B.C. and selected motifs of special significanceto his
as well as on pl. 65, fig. 3, where the little serpent clientele.19
seems to belong more closely to the lion than to any DEPARTMENT OF ART HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
other figure in the scene, remains to be determined. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
In summary,it may be said about the cylinderfrom NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10027

(supra n. 13) 31. generally accepted chronological fixed point, although scholars
19 At the
request of Dr. Bietak, I add this note to inform the have been aware of the tenuousness of the astronomicalbasis on
reader that I have used the so-called "middlechronology,"with the which the dates were established.The same tenuousnesspertainsto
date of Hammurabi of Babylon set 1792-1750 B.C. (first proposed the basis for the recent attempt to lengthen the chronologyof that
by Sidney Smith in Alalakh and Chronology[London 1940] 29). period by 56 years by P.J. Huber, et al., AstronomicalDating of
During the past decades these dates have served the purpose of a Babylon I and Ur III (Malibu 1982).

Seal Impressionson Jars from Ebla in the

Late Early BronzeAge

(P1. 65, fig. 4)

Cylinder seal impressionsof Early Bronze IV A-B The cylinders, which were used to make the im-
were found at Ebla on two types of pottery:globular pressions on the pots before firing, all belong to a
tripod jars and globular corrugated jars. The two "popular"style with rather crude designs featuring
kinds of jars present diverse geographicdistributions: animals and humans, often with the animals placedin
the globular, corrugatedjars were found in central tete beche in a tightly filled composition (see the ex-
Syria, from Ebla to Hama, while the tripod jars ap- ample TM 77 G 916 from Palace G on pl. 65, fig. 4).
pear to have been limited to northern Syria. Only at There were also geometrical designs often featuring
Ebla do the two types of jars appear together. Seal large rosetteswhich are part of the Proto-Syrianglyp-
impressionswere only applied in relatively few cases. tic tradition. Seals and pots must have been manu-
Nine of them were found on jars in the royal palace factured in close vicinity to each other. They were
G, which dates from Early Bronze IV A. The loca- probably products of non-palatial workshops tied to
tions in which they were found within the palace seem agricultural communities where the commoditiesto
to have been mostly storage areas. Perhaps seal im- be shipped in the jars were produced.
pressions distinguishedthe higher quality of one part MISSIONE ARCHEOLOGICA IN SIRIA
of the entire production, marking, for example, the UNIVERSITA DI ROMA
jars containingthe purest and choicestoil. ROME, ITALY

American Journal of Archaeology 88 (1984)

Itt iV 7 a I a mi
cm I I .. 1""
78I 6, 7 a 4 ebi l1 ti
FIG. i. Tell el-Dab'a, cylinder seal FIG. 2. Syrian cylinder seal, British Museum

FIG. 3. Cylinder seal, Classical Syrian style, Royal Ontario Museum FIG.4. Ebla, Palace G, cylinderseal impressionon

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