The Seal in the Shape of a Lion’s Head, modeled in the shape of a stylized leonine protome (the head is complete, but the body is a simple half-circle representing the mane of the animal), was carved from a cream-colored limestone veined with red; it is pierced vertically by a hole and was therefore intended to be worn as a pendant (necklace or bracelet).
The flat lower part of the object actually bears the seal of the owner and of his goods: it is adorned with drawings made with a bouterolle (a sort of drill). The incisions are arranged so as to represent figural (here, two quadrupeds, perhaps felids) and geometric patterns (sorts of crosses).
Over the millennia, the Mesopotamian artists produced an impressive bestiary, both in quality and quantity, including almost all the species of animals. Bovids, caprids and felids were most widely represented, but among the other figures composing this miniature bestiary (on seals and amulets) were also bears, monkeys, vultures, hedgehogs, fish, frogs, etc. Aside from the traditional compassion for the animal kingdom, typical of ancient cultures (which experienced the natural and animal world in a much more intense way than we currently imagine), the symbolism and meaning attributed to each species are not always easy to determine.
The invention of a system of signs enabling to authenticate a person’s property is a fundamental step in the history of ancient societies, since it refers to events as complex as the development of urbanism, the rights to private ownership and the birth of writing, which was then a revolutionary means of communication primarily used in administrative and commercial areas.