They are regarded as humankind's first writing system: 5,000 years ago, people began to put their seal on documents and goods using finely carved cylinders.
Some are no bigger than a thimble; most are the size of a wine cork. But these elaborate cylinder seals created in ancient Babylonia say a lot. The figures carved into the cylinders are so fine that when the seals are rolled out on soft clay, they depict small scenes, in addition to cuneiform writing.
When the first major cities developed in Mesopotamia, largely in present-day Iraq, goods and merchandise had to be managed. Anyone who wanted to mark property or sign a contract simply rolled out a seal that symbolized a person and his or her beliefs.
This specimen made of red jasper was created in the 19th century BC and is located in the Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin.
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