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The Adda Seal

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Adda Seal
  • Description

    Greenstone cylinder seal. A hunting god (full-face) has a bow and an arrow (?) over his shoulder; a quiver with tassel attached hangs on his back. On the left hand mountain stands a small tree and Ishtar (full-face) who is winged and armed with weapons including an axe and a mace rising from her shoulders. She is holding a bush-like object, probably a bunch of dates, above the sun-god's head. The sun-god Shamash with rays, holding a serrated blade, is just begining to emerge from between two square topped moutains. The water god Ea stands to the right with one foot placed on the right hand mountain. He stretches out his right hand towards an eagle, probably the Zu bird who stole the tablets of destiny. A couchant bull lies between his legs and streams of water and fish flow from his shoulders. Behind him stands his two-faced attendant god Usimu with his right hand raised. All wear the multiple-horned head-dresses of deities. The male figures are bearded and Usimu has a double beard and wears a flounced skirt. Ea and Ishtar both wear flounced robes and the fourth complete figure wears a striped skirt which either has a cod-piece or is hitched up in front. This god wears his hair in a long curl down the left side, reminiscent of those worn by bull-men and Ishtar has two similar curls hanging down, one on either side, while Ea and Shamash wear their hair in a triple bun. The scales of the mountain are continued in a horizontal band all round the lower part of the seal and it is on this band that the figures are standing. There is a two line inscription in a frame and below it a lion is pacing towards the right and roaring. The cylinder is slightly concave in shape.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2300BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 3.9 centimetres
    • Diameter: 2.55 centimetres
    • Height: 1.5 centimetres
    • Diameter: 1 inches
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Transliteration

        ad-da / dub-sar.
      • Inscription Translation

        Adda, scribe.
  • Bibliography

    • Boehmer R M 1965a bibliographic details
    • Collon 1982a 190, pl.XXVIII bibliographic details
    • Aruz & Wallenfels 2003a no. 139, p. 213-214. bibliographic details
    • Barnett & Wiseman 1969a no.42 bibliographic details
    • Zervos C 1935a p.258 bibliographic details
    • Leichty E et al 1988a p.300 bibliographic details
    • Pritchard, J B 1954a p.658 (CHECK) bibliographic details
    • Roaf M 1990a p.77 bibliographic details
    • Barnett & Wiseman 1960a p.88, no.42 bibliographic details
    • Frankfort H 1934a pl. Vd bibliographic details
    • Margueron J-C 1965a pl.99 bibliographic details
    • Du Ry C J 1969a pp.72-73 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G56/dc11

  • Exhibition history


    2003 5 May-17 Aug, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Art of the First Cities'
    1997 29 May-28 Oct, Germany, Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum, Das Siegel Im Alten Vorderasien
    1995 7 Jul-22 Oct, London, The British Library, The Earth and the Heavens: the Art of the Mapmaker
    1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.6
    1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.6

    Room of Writing (in 1960)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    This collection was acquired by the museum as a result of Budge's fourth mission to Egypt and Mesopotamia in 1890-91. The mission was primarily intended to excavate at Der (Tell ed-Der) and neighbouring sites, including Sippar. A brief account was given in the Trustees minutes. There are more details of his precise movements during this mission in pp.xix-xxiv of the Leichty catalogue index. According to p.xxiv of the Leighty catalogue index "Assyriologists have been content with proposition that the bulk of this collection came from Sippar or it's vicinity" and "there seems to be no compelling reason why any of these should be given a Der provenance".

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Greenstone seal of Adda


COMPASS Title: Greenstone seal of Adda

Image description



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Object reference number: WCO24303

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