Ancient Near East Seal Collection

The Ancient Near East Seal Collection


As one of the most iconic objects produced in the ancient Near East, seals are the most compelling source of information on the region’s art, culture, and economy. Dating back to the sixth millennium BCE, seals were used to conclude transactions, to express ownership, and as amulets. The 183 seals housed at the Freer and Sackler allow us to unfold this ancient practice and artistic tradition that existed throughout the ancient Near East, the Aegean, and Bactria.

This online catalogue, developed around the Freer and Sackler collection, aims to provide an open access resource on seals. It includes image mapping to highlight the rich iconographic elements of the seals, essays that focus on topics inspired by the collection, and archival material from the Ernst Herzfeld files. This online catalogue also has a kids section that teaches children the importance of seals in ancient societies, as well as the carving techniques used to create them.

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