Cylinder Seals: Elaborate stone engravings | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 17.06.2019
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Culture

Cylinder Seals: Elaborate stone engravings

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.

Watch video 02:32

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.

Click here for more videosfrom "Berlin's Treasure Trove: The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation."

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