Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic Glyphs and Stamp Seals in the British Museum

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Stamp seals were used in a similar way to modern signet rings: a negative object used to impress a design into another material, often clay. They appeared around 7000 BC and have remained in use in parts of the world continuously until the present day. This volume focuses on the British Museum’s collection of Middle Eastern Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic (7000–5000 BC) seals used in modern-day Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

In addition to a catalogue that includes all provenanced examples of stamp seals from this period in the British Museum’s collection, the volume presents a new interpretation of these intriguing objects by discussing the role of seals in prehistoric society.

It looks at how the seals were used and why they were made, emphasising that whereas previous studies have assessed stamp seals as largely administrative objects, they should be interpreted in their own, Neolithic, context.

To this end stamp seals are rebranded glyphs as this study argues that sealing was just one of their potential uses, along with broader identifying, protective and magical uses that worked to unite people across the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic. The result is a fresh approach to Middle Eastern prehistoric glyptic studies that complements the increasing archaeological and theoretical interest in this period.

More about the author

Simon Denham works for the British Civil Service but was formerly employed in a number of roles at the British Museum, most recently as the Sackler Scholar for Ancient Iran. His academic background is in Late Neolithic archaeology.

  • Product Code: CMC0861592081
  • AUTHOR: Simon Denham
  • NUMBER OF PAGES: 176 pages
  • FORMAT: Paperback
  • Dimension: 297 x 210 mm
  • Dimension: 297 x 210 mm
  • SUBTITLE: British Museum
  • Illustrations: 200 images
  • Subject: Middle East/archaeology/ material culture
  • Weight: 0.58 Kg

Stamp seals were used in a similar way to modern signet rings: a negative object used to impress a design into another material, often clay. They appeared around 7000 BC and have remained in use in parts of the world continuously until the present day. This volume focuses on the British Museum’s collection of Middle Eastern Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic (7000–5000 BC) seals used in modern-day Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

In addition to a catalogue that includes all provenanced examples of stamp seals from this period in the British Museum’s collection, the volume presents a new interpretation of these intriguing objects by discussing the role of seals in prehistoric society.

It looks at how the seals were used and why they were made, emphasising that whereas previous studies have assessed stamp seals as largely administrative objects, they should be interpreted in their own, Neolithic, context.

To this end stamp seals are rebranded glyphs as this study argues that sealing was just one of their potential uses, along with broader identifying, protective and magical uses that worked to unite people across the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic. The result is a fresh approach to Middle Eastern prehistoric glyptic studies that complements the increasing archaeological and theoretical interest in this period.

More about the author

Simon Denham works for the British Civil Service but was formerly employed in a number of roles at the British Museum, most recently as the Sackler Scholar for Ancient Iran. His academic background is in Late Neolithic archaeology.

  • Product Code: CMC0861592081
  • DIMENSIONS: 297 x 210 mm
  • AUTHOR: Simon Denham
  • PAGES: 176 pages
  • FORMAT: Paperback
  • PUBLISHER: British Museum Research Publication no. 208
  • Weight: 0.58 Kg
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