Learn About Cuneiform Tablets & Cylinder Seals

On today’s Artemission blog we explore cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals.

Cuneiform Script

Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus. The name cuneiform itself simply means “wedge shaped”, from the Latin cuneus “wedge” and forma “shape.

Emerging in Mesopotamia in the late 4th millennium B.C., cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs. In the early third millennium, the pictorial representations became simplified and more abstract. Originally, pictographs were either drawn on clay tablets in vertical columns with a sharpened reed stylus, or incised in stone

Between half a million and two million cuneiform tablets are estimated to have been excavated in modern times, of which only approximately 50,000– 100,000 have been read or published.

Take a look at Artemission’s available collection of authentic cuneiform tablets

Cylinder Seals

Cylinder seals are small round cylinders, typically about one inch in length, engraved with written characters or figurative scenes or both, used in ancient times to roll an impression onto a two-dimensional surface, generally wet clay. Cylinder seals were invented around 3500 BC in the Near East, at the contemporary sites of Susa in south-western Iran and Uruk in southern Mesopotamia.

They are linked to the invention of the latter’s cuneiform writing on clay tablets. They were used as an administrative tool, a form of signature, as well as jewellery and as magical amulets. In later periods, they were used to notarize or attest to multiple impressions of clay documents.

Check our available collection of authentic cylinder seals


Artemission.com (Atticart Ltd.) is the leading antiquities gallery online. Starting the very first internet site dealing with authentic antiquities, Artemission specialise in ancient art from Egypt, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, as well as Islamic Art and Ancient Coins.

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