Assyrian Queen’s Sealing f

Object type: Sealing 
Museum: British Museum, 99214
Findspot: Excavated/Findspot: Kouyunjik (north of Iraq)
 Culture, period: Neo-Assyrian
 Production date: IX/681 BCE
Material: Clay

Dimension: 14-15 mm

Nonverbal Communication:  Raising of the hand (?), Raising of the hands (?), Erect posture, Touching the nose (?)


The sealing shows probably an Assyrian queen with the Assyrian king approaching a deity standing on a lion (?). 


On the basis of some textual evidence from the Neo-Assyrian period which describes a gesture implying the raising of the hand(s), the Akkadian expressions used to describe such a gesture are conventionally šu’illakku and nīš qātī, which can be interpreted as an idiom for “prayer” and commonly include a physical movement. The king, namely the figure between the hypothetical queen and the deity, perhaps performs a gesture of humility, identified in Akkadian with the the appa labānu gesture (“to stroke the nose”). The standing deity was perhaps supposed to perform a greeting gesture addressed to the couple.  

Bibliographic references:

Radner K. 2008, “The delegation of power: Neo-Assyrian bureau seals”, in R. Briant – W.F.M. Henkelman – M.W. Stopler (éds.), L’archive des Fortifications de Persépolis. État des questions et perspectives de recherches. Actes du colloque organisé au Collège de France par la « Chaire d’histoire et civilisation du monde achéménide et de l’empire d’Alexandre » et le « Réseau international d’études et de recherches achéménides » (GDR 2538 CNRS), 3-4 novembre 2006, Paris, 481-515. (study)


Radner K. 2012, “The Seal of Tašmetum-šarrat, Sennacherib’s Queen, and Its Impressions”, in G.B. Lanfranchi – D. Morandi Bonacossi – C. Pappi – S. Ponchia (eds.), Leggo! Studies Presented to Frederick Mario Fales on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Wiesbaden, 687-698. (study)


Niederreiter Z. 2021, “Neo-Assyrian Seal Depicting «Istar, Worshipped by an Assyrian King and Queen» and a Scorpion as Well: Notes on the BM WA 2002-05-15, 1 Stamp Seal, Formerly Kept in the Southesk Collection”, Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires1, 42-49 (study)


Portuese L. 2022: “A Gender-Centered Perspective on Manners and Etiquette for Understanding the Historical Role of the Assyrian Queen”, KASKAL Rivista di storia, ambienti e culture del Vicino Oriente Antico 19, 50–52 (study)

© Image credits: Niederreiter Z. 2021, “Neo-Assyrian Seal Depicting «Istar, Worshipped by an Assyrian King and Queen» and a Scorpion as Well: Notes on the BM WA 2002-05-15, 1 Stamp Seal, Formerly Kept in the Southesk Collection”, Nouvelle Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilities 1, fig. 6