Sasanian stamp seal with winged animal

Object number
Object: Sasanian stamp seal with winged animal

Material: Cream-coloured banded chalcedony. Agate.

Period: 224 AD to 651 AD,
period of Sasanian rule,
Late Antiquity.

Description:    Sasanian stamp seal with large loop hole. Slightly oval cross-section, flattened towards the stamping area. The oval stamp shows a stylized winged animal, ready to jump. Probably a gazelle.

Background: The Sassanids became the dominant power in the Near East after their conquest against the Parthians in 220 AD and remained so until the Arab conquest in 642 AD, or politically until the death of the last King Yazdegerd III in 651 AD. This second Persian empire spanned much of modern-day Iran and Iraq, expanding its cultural and economic influence throughout the Near East. The religion of the Sassanids was Zoroastrianism, which is based on the teachings of Zarathustra (Greek spelling Zoroaster). This is still reflected today in a variety of ways in the surviving artefacts, especially in the coins and seals.
Sasanian stamp seals usually had an ellipsoidal shape and an engraved stamping area. Stones that shimmered through turned the seals into small pieces of jewellery. The typical large loop hole of the seal made it possible to wear it on elaborate chains or on simple ribbons. The relatively large number of pieces that survived to this day suggests that many people once possessed these seals. Important collections can be found in the major museums (e.g. the Berlin State Museums, the British Museum) as well as in private hands (the Anavian Collection). Researchers disagree on the exact dating and typification of Sasanian seals. Coins from this period are only suitable for a comparison to a limited extent, as there are uncertainties in their dating. The excavation finds are not numerous enough to work out a typology.
Since the typical pictorial representation of the seals did not correspond to Islamic culture, the art of seal cutting quickly disappeared after the Arab conquest and the Sassanid culture fell into oblivion.

Dimensions: 18mm wide, 16mm high, c. 13mm long axis of the stamp area.

Condition: Perfect condition, except for minor chips. Stamp precisely cut and still clearly recognizable.

Provenance: From the German collection of Professor H. Brosch (1923 to 2009), author of historical publications, scientific museum advisor, decorated by the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The collection was built between 1960 and 1975. It was inherited to U. Buechner, Germany, and then acquired by us in 2013.

The Professor Brosch collection of ancient Gems:
After the decline of the Roman Empire, ancient gems retained or regained recognition in medieval Europe. In addition to frequent reuse in church art, there were also profane uses. This is shown by the example of the ancient intaglio of Julia, daughter of Emperor Titus. It was reused in the 9th century by the Merovingians in the "Escrain de Charlemagne" and can be admired today in the French National Library.
The reception of ancient glyptic during the Italian Renaissance resulted in a great fashion to collect gems, which could be entertained by the European educated bourgeoisie during journeys through the Mediterranean in the spirit of enlightenment and education. Thus Goethe, inspired by his trip to Italy, which was immortalised in literature, also built up a collection of antiquities.
The collection of ancient intaglios by Professor Brosch is certainly a late classicist continuation of this tradition. The collection forms a systematic cross-section of the thematic diversity of ancient and some later gems such like this Sasanian piece. It has been worked on extensively with a scholarly approach. Professor Brosch had a great interest, not only in ancient history, but also in the more recent history of his home region. He was honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit for his achievements in the field of historical studies. It is with pride that we have fully documented this collection and provided it with literature references. We are now pleased to bring these miniature works of art from the ancient world back into circulation and to enrich a collection in the tradition of the Renaissance and Enlightenment in a worthy manner.
If you are interested in purchasing the collection in its entirety, please do not hesitate to contact us.

References: Similar Habib Anavian collection, no. 363.

Literature: Kurt Erdmann, Die Kunst Irans zur Zeit der Sasaniden (1943).
The standard works on Sasanian seal typology are from Goebl (1973) and Brunner (1978).

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.