The Akkadian Cylinder Seal – Metonym for Life in Akkad


cylinder seal
daily life

How to Cite

Jack, J. (2020). The Akkadian Cylinder Seal – Metonym for Life in Akkad. Pathways, 1(1), 29–37.


Akkadian cylinder seals, though tiny physical objects, were useful and significant to the Akkadians. This work explores those uses and significances in order to understand the cultural complexity reflected in these small items. Religious scenes on cylinder seals detail the spiritual beliefs and practices of the time. The deeply intertwined relationship between religion and state power in Akkad is also present in the decorations of some cylinder seals. The materials from which cylinder seals are made indicate trade with distant groups and signal the passage of both materials and cultural influences between groups. These cylinder seals also reflect the complexities of daily life; politics, distribution of resources, the specialization of craftspeople, and art can all be read in these minute cylinders. As well, the making of cylinder seals was a technologically complex process, demonstrating sophistication of technique and of material choice that points to the sophistication of the people who made them. Ultimately, these physical and social properties of cylinder seals indicate that they had multiple meanings in the life of Akkadians.


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