Stamp seal (BM 119999)

Stamp seal (BM 119999)
British Museum stamp-seal (Registration number 1870,1210.3).jpg
The stamp seal with two facing busts and Sogdian inscription. Room 52, British Museum.
MaterialCarnelian
SizeLength: 3.30 centimetres
Width: 2.60 centimetres
Created4th-6th century CE
Present locationRoom 52, British Museum, London
Registration1870, 1210.3
Stamp seal (BM 119999) is located in West and Central Asia
Stamp seal (BM 119999)
Location of the region of Sogdia, to which the stamp seal belongs.

Stamp seal (BM 119999), is a historical stamp seal from the British Museum, with reference number BM 119999, located in Room 52 of the museum. The stamp seal was procured by Sir Alexander Cunningham, who sold it to the British Museum in 1870.[1] Another, nearly identical, seal, is located in the Calcutta Museum.[2]

Description

The seal is made of carnelian, a precious stone, and rather hard to engrave.[1] It is considered as "a Sogdian double portrait".[2] It shows two facing busts. One is a bearded male, wearing a forward-projecting cap bordered with pearls, as well as a diadem, ear-rings and a necklace.[1] The other wears a radiate crown with royal ribbons.[1] Above is an inscription in two lines, in the Sogdian language.

Other examples

The design with two facing busts is also visible in some of the coinage of the period, although the small space of the coins seems to have forced to two busts to come closer together.[3] It has been suggested that this design was influenced by some Byzantine coins,[4] but this may not be necessarily so.[3]

Kushano-Sasanian period (c.230 – c.365 CE)

The stamp seal is dated by the British Museum to 300-350 CE, during the Kushano-Sasanian period, and belongs to the area of Sogdia, north of the Oxus.[1][3] In this, the museum follows the conclusions of Bivar (1969), and Livshits (1969), according to which the seal should be dated to the 4th century CE.[3] Livshits (1969) also offered a reading for the Sogdian inscription, which is the one still used by the British Museum:[3]

The ruler with radiate crown, royal ribbons and necklace with pearls (detail of the seal).

(1) 'yt mydrh cwn ’yn/ztmyc
(2) (p) ’nbsn z ’ ’ntyh (or zc ’ntyh, n ’cztyh)
This seal is from (of) Indamic
Queen of Zacanta

— Seal inscription, according to Livshits (1969).[3]

Paleographical comparisons also suggests a "rough date" of the 4th century CE, and at any rate before the second half of the 5th century CE.[3] Stylistically, the stamp seal is said to share the artistic characteristics of other known Kushano-Sasanians seals, but also Hephthalites seals.[3]

Hephthalite period (c.440 – c.560 CE)

Livshits (2000) has since reappraised the datation of the stamp seal as well as the translation of the Sogdian legend. In his latest analysis, he thought that the seal should be dated to the 5th-6th century CE, and should read:[2]

Inscription of the Stamp seal (BM 119999)According to Livshits (2000).[2]
Line Original (Sogdian alphabet) Transliteration English translation
1 𐼀𐼊𐼛 𐼍𐼊𐼘𐼘𐼆 𐼕𐼇𐼏 𐼀𐼊𐼎𐼚𐼇𐼍𐼊𐼖 ʾyt myδrh cwn ʾyntwmyc This gem is from the Indian
2 𐼔𐼀𐼎𐼂𐼙𐼏 𐼎𐼀𐼎𐼚𐼊𐼆 pʾnβšn nʾntyh Lady, Nandi

Kurbanov (2010) considers that the seal is characteristic of Hephthalite seals.[5]

Related artifacts

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Stamp-seal; bezel British Museum". The British Museum.
  2. ^ a b c d Livshits, Vladimir A. (2000). "Sogdian Sānak, a Manichaean Bishop of the 5th–Early 6th Centuries" (PDF). Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 14: 48 and notes 16 and 17. ISSN 0890-4464.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Naymark, Aleksandr (2001). SOGDIANA, ITS CHRISTIANS AND BYZANTIUM: A STUDY OF ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL CONNECTIONS IN LATE ANTIQUITY AND EARLY MIDDLE AGES (PDF). pp. 167–169.
  4. ^ Kurbanov, Aydogdy (2013). "THE HEPHTHALITE NUMISMATICS" (PDF). Tyragetia. VII: 370.
  5. ^ "There are also a number of other seals, which seem to be closely linked with this class... 1)" in KURBANOV, AYDOGDY (2010). THE HEPHTHALITES: ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS (PDF). Berlin: Berlin Freie Universität. pp. 69, 1).
  6. ^ Kurbanov, Aydogdy (2013). "THE HEPHTHALITE NUMISMATICS" (PDF). Tyragetia. VII: 370.
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