5000 Years Of Seals & Signets

Posted in Performances

In pre-literate times personal identity was often represented by a seal or signet that served as a signature or, more properly, surrogate for the person who owned it. In ancient Sumer it signified a bond that invoked the higher powers, calling them to witness. Today it often includes “gold” foil, a blind stamp and a wink. The road has been long and fraught with impressions.

Time has almost obscured the image on this cylinder seal from Mesopotamia, but it still conveys the impression – similar to those in the British Museum – of people sitting around drinking beer through straws. Some historians believe that the hunter-gatherers changed their wandering ways and settled down when they learned to make beer. It is amusing to wonder who, 3600 years ago, chose this image as their personal identity.

Agate/Marble 3/8” x 3/4”
Kassite/Early Dynastic Period
circa 1600 BCE I

Theatre of Memory program: 5000 Years of Seals and Signets