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DEFINITION: An area of marshes and lagoons of southern Babylonia (Persian Gulf). In the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the dynasty of the Sealand controlled much of southern Mesopotamia, but little is known about its rule. Only one of its kings being documented in contemporary texts. Earlier documents referred to the area of the kingdom of Chaldea as the Sealand.
compartmented seal
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The typical, usually metal, seal of the Bronze Age in western Central Asia and northern Afghanistan. Most often round, the seals' motifs were geometric or of objects of nature.
cylinder seal
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A cylinder engraved with a design, scene, and/or inscription which was impressed onto the plastic clay when the cylinder seal was rolled over a clay tablet. This was the standard seal form of the Mesopotamian civilization, starting in the Uruk period. The incised stone cylinder was rolled over a soft surface so that the design appeared in relief. These seals were used to mark property and to legalize documents. Dating is based on changes in the design carved on the seal as well as the seal's size and proportion.
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A device for impressing characteristic marks into a soft surface, such as wet clay or wax, to indicate ownership or authenticity. Seals were made of bone, ivory, stone, or wood and had an intaglio design and were in the form of stamps or cylinder seals. The first can have a very wide range of shapes, and gives single impressions. The second, characteristic of ancient Mesopotamia, is rolled across the surface to yield a frieze of repeat designs. Their social and linguistic significance is great. They were fundamental in the development of writing system and were a status symbol of authority and sometimes accorded talismanic properties. The use of seals and writing on clay tablets appeared together in Mesopotamia, towards end of 4th millennium BC.
seal matrix
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The object used to make impressions in wax as seals.
seal stamp
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A piece of inscribed stone used to impress a symbol on wet pieces of clay or bitumen, used by administrators to keep track of goods.
sealing roofing nail
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A nail with a lead or plastic washer under the head to provide a watertight seal, used on metal roofing
sealing wax
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Wax used to seal letters, envelopes, documents, etc.
stamp seal
CATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A small, hard block that has a flat surface engraved with a design that can be transferred to soft clay or wax as a mark of ownership or authenticity. Stamp seals appear in Mesopotamia from the Halafian period in the fifth millennium BC, when they were used to impress ownership marks on lumps of clay which were then attached to goods. In the Bronze Age, it was differently shaped for different cultures: square in the Indus, round in the Persian Gulf (Barbar), and compartmented in central Asia (Bactrian). Stamp seals preceded cylinders and developed over a period of about 1,500 years until largely replaced by the cylinder in the 3rd millennium BC. Seals came into use before the invention of writing for the securing of property and the method was either to shape clay over the stopper or lid or to make a fastening with cord and place clay around the knot and then impress it with the seal. The sealing of written documents, mainly clay tablets and papyrus scrolls, became regularly established in the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC.

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