Seal ring

Seal ring
Sassanid period, 3rd-7th cent. CE
Gold, cornelian ; D. 2,5 cm
Inv. IR.1249

The Sassanid dynasty, the last great power in the Near East before the arrival of Islam, had a highly developed administrative system. Written documents are lacking, however. All that remain are the clay bullae that sealed them and the actual seals. The latter are mostly stone stamps or, more rarely, seal rings. Sometimes the name, the profession or the function of the seal's owner is written on them. They typically show portraits, monograms, animals and religious scenes referring to the state religion, Zoroastrianism. However, some inhabitants of the Sassanid empire belonged to religious minorities, as evidenced by this gold seal ring with a stone set between two animal heads. A cross surmounting the bust leaves no room for doubt about the Christian faith of the ring's owner.

Discover this masterpiece on the online museum catalogue Carmentis, in the book Masterpieces and soon in our exhibition 'Crossroads - Travelling through the Middle Ages' (27 Sept 2019 - 29 March 2019)