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People called MAR-TU

Dilmun is a trading post on the 'Lower Sea'.   In Mesopotamian mythology, Dilmun is the land of immortality, a favourite meeting place of the gods, which was visited by the hero Gilgamesh in his search for everlasting life. Inscriptions indicate that the ancestors of the Sumerians came from Dilmun, and it was here that they learnt the art of writing. We agree with S.N.Kramer's observations identifying Dilmun with the Sarasvati-Sindhu (Indus) valley. The God Enki is said to have given his son Inzak dominion over Dilmun. On the Lagash tablet (ca. 2520 BC) is recorded: "The ships of Dilmun from the foreign lands brought me woods". A document of ca. 1800 BC refers to an expedition "to Dilmun to buy copper there'. Sargon of Assyria (710 BC) notes that "he had received presents from the King of Dilmun, a land which lies like a fish, 60 hours away in the midst of the sea of the rising sun".

An Assurbanipal clay cylinder states: Dilmun ki s'a qabal ta_mtim s'apli_t (Dilmun is in the midst of the lower sea) (D.D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria, ARAB, II 970. A Ungnad, ZA 31 (1917): 34, 1.9. That Dilmun was a continental coastland may be surmised from Sargon II's great Display inscription: bi_t-ia-kin s'a kis'a_d na_r marrati adi pa_t Dilmun (Bi_t-Iakin which (extends) from the bank of the brackish river to the border of Dilmun)(Luckenbill, ARAB, 54 = 82 =99). Sargon II's inscription states: Upe_ri s'ar Dilmun s'a ma_la_k 30 be_ru ina qabal ta_mtim s'a nipih s'ams'i ki_ma nu_ni s'itkunu narbasu (Upe_ri, king of Dilmun, whose resting place is 30 double hours away like a fish in the midst of the ocean of the rising sun)(Luckenbill, ARAB, 41,70). During the reign of Sargon of Assyria, Dilmun and Magan are stated to be "on the farther side of the lower sea" and there is also a reference to the " sea of Magan" (J.Muhly, Copper and Tin, p. 226; W.F. Leeman, Foreign Trade, p. 81, n.11; M. Weitemeyer, Acta Orientalia, 27 (1964): 207; E. Weidner, AfO, 16 (1953): 5, 1.42). The timber for the boats in Bahrain always came from India. The name of the Meluhha-boat is magilum (Enki and the World Order 128).[Boats which plied on the Sindhu river are called mohanna.]

"The Ninevite Gigamesh Epic, composed probably at the end of the second millennium BC, has Utnapishtim settled "at the mouth of the rivers", taken by all commentators to be identical with Dilmun." (W.F.Albright, The Mouth of the Rivers, AJSL, 35 (1919): 161-195).

The mouth of the rivers may relate to the Rann of Kutch/Saurashtra lying at the mouth of the Sindhu and Sarasvati rivers. In the Sumerian myth Enki and Ninhursag, which recounts a Golden Age, paradise is described: "The crow screams not, the dar-bird cries not dar, the lion kills not... the ferry-man says not 'it's midnight', the herald circles not round himself, the singer says not elulam, at the outside of the city no shout resounds."  The cry of the sea-faring boatmen in Indian languages on the west-coast is: e_le_lo!

Lines 123-129; and interpolation UET VI/1:

"Let me admire its green cedars. The (peole of the) lands Magan and Dilmun, Let them come to see me, Enki! Let the mooring posts beplaced for the Dilmun boats! Let the magilum-boats of Meluhha transport of gold and silver for exchange...The land Tukris' shall transport gold from Harali, lapis lazuli and bright... to you. The land Meluhha shall bring cornelian, desirable and precious sissoo-wood from Magan, excellent mangroves, on big ships The land Marhashi will (bring) precious stones, dushia-stones, (to hang) on the breast. The land Magan will bring copper, strong, mighty, diorite-stone, na-buru-stones, shumin-stones to you. The land of the Sea shall bring ebony, the embellishment of (the throne) of kingship to you. The land of the tents shall bring wool... The city, its dwellin gplaces shall be pleasant dwelling places, Dilmun, its dwelling place shall be a pleasant dwelling place. Its barley shall be fine barley, Its dates shall be very big dates! Its harvest shall be threefold. Its trees shall be ...-trees."

We postulate a hypothesis that Dilmun refers to the Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization area and that MAR-TU refer to the people of Marusthali (the present-day Thar-Cholistan on the banks of the Sarasvati river.) In the context of the decipherment of the script inscriptions as lists of bronze-copper weapons, the following analysis based on Uruk texts is significant:

"Almost from the beginning of the excavations in the ruins of the old city of Uruk in Lower Mesopotamia in 1928, work has concentrated on uncovering large parts of the temple area of that city, the holy district of Eanna... It was in these various layers and accumulations of debris covering large parts of the Eanna district that over the years more than four thousand clay tablets and fragments were found... In the Archaic Metals List we again find DILMUN in a line which due to a common denominator proves to be part of an internally cohesive group of entries. The entire list starts out with a sequence of metal vessels and continues with metal tools and weapons. This group opens with a sequence of various daggers, continues with various groups of unidentified objects and from line 23 on shows five entries with the common denominator tun2, 'axe'. The lines read in tentative translation: 'big axe', 'two-handed axe', 'one-handed axe', 'x-axe', and 'Dilmun axe'. Here most likely the differentiation bears on differences in shape, size or function; the 'two-handed axe' may mean a double-edged axe, for instance. Again, if seen as a coherent context DILMUN may be used here as equivalent to 'Dilmun-type axe'. I do not think it could just refer to the provenance of an axe but rather to specific qualities... three texts clearly are dealing with textiles but only one of them has a context which might be interpreted; tentatively it reads' 1 bale of DILMUN garment'... as the title following the one containing the sign for DILMUN we find the comosite sign for namesda, the title of the opening line of the Archaic Professions list. It is supposed that this title represents the highest official. Probably without all connotations of the terms 'ruler' or 'king' it nevertheless should be fairly close. The preceding line contains a number of signs which if translated literally could mean 'the prince of the good Dilmun-house (or temple)'. The exact meaning is elusive. To sum up, from our texts we do not get an adequate picture of the relations of Babylonia, or the city of Uruk, with Dilmun. On a general level, however, we can conclude that not only did such relations exist already by the end of the fourth millennium BC, but that these contacts apparently were not restricted to trade. To be sure, the exchange of metal and ttextiles may represent the main ties, but the existence of titles containing Dilmun in their name in normal Babylonia contexts like the Professions List point to much closer mutual contacts that would be sustained by occasional trade. The same is suggested by the existence of DILMUN in generic designations for kinds of textiles or metal tools. We certainly are entitled to assume that these relations had existed long before the emergence of writing." [Hans J. Nissen, The occurrence of Dilmun in the Oldest texts of Mesopotamia, pp. 335-339].

In the Old Babylonian period, some Mesopotamian seals depict a deity holding a crook. (cf. Seal 124 in Macropoli Collection). The deity also appears with his foot on a gazelle, but sometimes on a small pedestal; he wears a long robe or a kilt and on his head a horned headdress or a tall cylindrical hat. He has been identified as the god AMURRU. In texts and cylinder seal impressions his name is written d/AN.MAR.TU or d/MAR.TU, i.e., AMURRU(M), 'GOD OF THE WEST' in Akkadian. He is often loosely called the god of the Amorites because of his association in texts with the desert and steppe. He became the son of Anu the sky god and was often associated with Sin the moon god. He was referred to as the warrior god. The association with the desert is remarkable. In the Sarasvati Sindhu valley area, the arid zone on the banks of the Sarasvati river is called MARUSTHALI (now called Thar/Cholistan or Great Indian Desert). And, MARUTS are celebrated in the Rigveda as wind-gods, echoing the phenomenon of the 'a_ndhi' or sandstorms common in the region of Thar/Cholistan desert.

"From the Ur III (2112-2004 BC) and Isin-Larsa (2025-1763) periods, we have a number of textual sources which suggest that an ethnic group of people called MAR-TU were associated with the land of Dilmun-- the first of three entities found to be trade partners with Mesopotamia from at least 2500 BC (the others being Makkan and Meluhha). From Drehem, a city near Nippur, we note the occurrence in two texts (dated to AS 2-2044 BC)(CST 254 and TRU 305) of a colophon which reads 'MAR-TU (and) Diviners coming from Dilmun' (or MAR-TU Diviners coming from Dilmun)(BUccellati 1966: 249)... In addition, other evidence suggests that the MAR-TU were associated with (sea) fishing (Civil 1961: Buccellati 1966: 90). Thus Buccellati and later Gelb concluded that the MAR-TU existed in the south in the area of the Gulf as far as Bahrain (Gelb 1968: 43; 1980: 2). Finally, this linkage is suggested by a text from Eshnunna, a Mesopotamian city on the Diyala river. In this text most likely dated to Is'aramas'u (c. 1970 BC) MAR-TU are arranged by segmented lineage affiliation (babtum). The total states that twenty-six MAR-TU are e-lu-tum-me, a term perhaps best translated as meaning' trustworthy' or 'reliable' vis-a-vis the local Eshnunna officials. One MAR-TU from the lineage of Bas'anum is said to be a-ab-ba-ta or 'from the sea (lands)' or the land across the sea (Gelb 1968: 43)... the newely discovered Ibla texts mention the MAR-TU principally in connection with metal daggers (Pettinato 180: 9 and commentary) and prisoners of war (Pettinato 1981b: 120, see text TM 75G.309). (Note also the MAR-TU name Iblanum as meaning man from Ibla, Buccellati 1966: 155, 246)... From the early second millennium BC, we have a much wider body of evidence dealing with the MAR-TU. This is due to the greatly increased numbers of MAR-TU escaping the hamad and entering the settled zones. As early as S'u-Sin year (2034 BC) we see that a large defensive wall was being built in central Mesopotamia for the express purpose of keeping out the MAR-TU (the MAR-TU wall (called) the one which keeps Didanum away, Buccellati 1966: 92). Unfortunately, by the early reign of the succeeding king, Ibbi-Si, things had changed:

Reports that hostiel MAR-TU had entered the plains having been received, 144,000 gur grain (representing) the grain in its entirety was brought into Isin. Now the MAR-TU in their entirety have entered the interior of the country taking one by one all the great fortresses. Because of the MAR-TU I am not able to provide... for that grain... (Jacobsen 1953: 40)

According to the year date of Ibbi-Sin 17, some of these MAR-TU apparently came from the Gulf region: 'The year the MAR-TU, the powerful south wind who, from the remote past, have not known cities, submitted to Ibbi-Sin, the king of Ur.' (cf. also Gelb's views, 1961: 36)... Oppenheim's review of UET V suggests that Ur apparently served as a focal point and port for foreign trade, specifically with Dilmun (Oppenheim 1954: 8, n.8). A number of texts describe this activity as traders called alik Dilmun sailed to Dilmun and exchanged goods. A number of texts (e.g. UET V 286, 297, 549 and 796) clearly demonstrate that individuals with MAR-TU names were involved in the trade (e.g. in UET V 297 a certain Zuabbaum; in UET V 549 a person named Milkudanum; and in UET V 796 Alazum). This then is a clear link between Dilmun and the MAR-TU-- a hypothesis already formulated from a number of literary texts and Ur III economic records... It seems clear in summary that the MAR-TU were linked to Dilmun in a political sense (rulers in southern Mesopotamian towns), commercial agents in Mesopotamia (alik Dilmun), and inhabitants of Dilmun itself (Susa Tablet, UET V 716).[Juris Zarins, MAR-TU and the land of Dilmun, 232-249 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986.]

Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1880 suggested that Dilmun of the Sumerian and Akkadian texts might be identified with Bahrain island. This was on the basis of a stone cone found by Captain Durand during an archaeological survey of Bahrain in 1879, but later lost. The text related to the temple of Inzak, elsewhere known as the god of Dilmun. (Captain Durand, Extracts from Report on the Islands and Antiquities of Bahrain, with notes by Major-General Sir. H.C. Rawlinson, JRAS, N.S. 12 (1880): 189-227, with two maps. Also suggested by Fr. Hommel, Ethnologie und Geographie des Alten Orients, 1904/1926, p. 24, 270.) Since then various identifications have been suggested such as: encompassing Saudi Arabian mainland in the area called Dilmun, Iranian side of the Persian Gulf as constituting Dilmun, Al-Qurna in southern Iraq and the Indus Valley (S.N.Kramer). All these identifications suggest that not all of them are valid for all periods of Mesopotamian history. Throughout Mesopotamian history, however, Dilmun has been an important trade centre, and 'one of the remote areas which was at times within the reach of Mesopotamian political influence. Noticeable among the early texts mentioning Dilmun is that of Urnanshe who had wood transported to Mesopotamia from Dilmun (ca. 2500 BC). In the same early period copper is known to hae been exported from Dilmun to Sumer. About 2100 BC Urnammu of the 3rd dynasty of Ur reopened the Arabian Gulf trade, this time with direct contact with Magan, from which copper was exported to Mesopotamia. The Dilmun trade flourished in the Larsa period (ca. 2000-1763 BC), but then died out. After an interim of 400 years Kassite influence appears in Dilmun (early 14th century BC). It seems that at this time the only export article was dates. Under Sargon of Assyria (end of 8th century BC) Upe_ri, king of Dilmun, is recorded to have sent tribute to the Assyrian empire. In 544 BC, Dilmun disappears from Mesopotamian history when, according to an administrative document, Nabonidus, king of Babylon, had a governor there. Dilmun is also mentioned in Sumerian literary texts as a famous place of prosperity and happiness, and even of eternal life, with the result that comparisons with the Biblical paradise have been made.' (Bendt Alster, Dilmun, Bahrain, and the alleged paradise in Sumerian Myth and Literature, in: Daniel T. Potts (ed.), Dilmun: New studies in the archaeology and early history of Bahrain, Berlin, Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1983, pp. 39-74). (See also: Daniel Potts, Dilmun: Where and When? Dilmun: Journal of the Bahrain Historical and Archaeological Society, 11 (1983): 15-19; Theresa Howard-Carter, The tangible evidence for the earliest Dilmun, JCS, 33 (1981): 210-223; S.N.Kramer, Quest for Paradise, Antiquity, 37 (1963): 112-113)

On the northern coast of Bahrain, at Barbar, a Sumerian temple, which had been rebuilt three times was found. The dates for the contruction events are estimated to be: beginning of third millennium B.C., middle of the third millennium BC and for the third event, ca. 2200-2000 BC. In the first temple there were two staircases descending to a square well. This was retained in all the three phases. Peder Mortensen suggested, based on the similarity with the Khafajah and al-'Uaid temples, that the temple was for goddess Ninhursag. The mother-goddess plays an important role in the Sumerian Dilmun myth, Enki and Ninhursag. (Peder Mortensen, Kuml 1956: 189-198, 1970: 385-398).

Indus valley type seals and cubical chert weights were found. (T.G. Bibby, Kuml 1970: 345-353; cf. Michael Roaf, Weights on the Dilmun standard, Iraq 44 (1982): 137:141). A bronze mirror handle was also found in the Barbar temple suggesting a link with the Kulli culture in South Baluchistan (N.Rao, Kuml 1969: 218-220). " far as the third millennium BC is concerned, the cultural relations with the early civilizations in the Indus valley and southern Iran seem to have been much more outspoken than those with Mesopotamia. (M.Tosi, Dilmun, Antiquity, 45 (1971): 21-25). Yet, as far as the early second millennium BC is concerned, a cultural setting has certainly been found within which the identification of Dilmun with Bahrain makes good sense... There is now wide agreement among most, but not all scholars, that from the middle of the third millennium BC, Magan and Meluhha are to be found east of Mesopotamia along the coast of the Arabian Gulf or the Arabian Sea, whereas later, from the middle of the secon dmillennium BC, Egypt, Nubia or Ethiopia must be considered. (I.J.Gelb, Makkan and Meluhha in Early Mesopotamian Sources, RA 64 (1970): 1-8; E. Sollberger, The Problem of Magan and Meluhha, Bulletin of the Institute of Archaeology 8-9 (1968-69): 247-250; John Hansman, A Periplus of Magan and Meluhha, BOAS 36 (1973): 554-587; E.C.L. During Caspers and A. Govindakutty, R. Thapar's Dravidian Hypothesis for the Location of Meluhha, Dilmun and Makan, JESHO 21 (1978): 114-145.) The cuneiform texts certainly give the impression that at least originally they (Makan and Meluhha) were located in the same direction as Dilmun, but farther away-- and later, remembrance of this direction was demonstrably kept alive, which makes the matter rather complicated. Archaeologically it makes sense to speak of Bahrain as a station on the way to Magan and Meluhha if these two were located east of Bahrain, as the most important cultural relations of Bahrain were Indus and Iran rather than Egypt. The use of Indus measuring standards in Bahrain clearly testifies to this, and was taken for granted by the Mesopotamian traders... The most important suggestins that have been made for Magan are Makran on the Iranian coast, and the Oman peninsula. As copper has been found in the Oman, the latter possibility seems highly likely. This, however, has been questioned by W. Heimpel, according ot whom diorite statues of Naramsin and Gudea said to be made of stones from Magan cannot have come from Oman, because diorite stones big enough for these statues are reported not to exist in Oman. As a possible source he suggests a position 50 miles NNE of Bandar Abbas on the northern side of the Arabian Gulf. Meluhha is to be found along the coast of Baluchistan and the Indus valley.

"...there was a temple of Enzak, the god of Dilmun, on Failaka... it was Failaka that was Dilmun?...the so-called a_lik Dilmun, the sea-faring merchants of Ur... The returning merchants used to offer a share of their goods or a silver model of their boat to the temple of the goddess Ningal, and he texts tell about partnerships and the sharing of profit and losses in a way which would not fit such an easy travel as thaf from Ur to Failaka. The distance from Aba_da_n to Failaka is no more than 60 nautical miles (111 km.) and could hardly be considered a great enterprise... Another possibility would be to suggest that Dilmun was a designation not only of Bahrain, but also of other parts of the Arabian Gulf area, among which Failaka would be counted... Dilmun is likely to the name of a rather large geographical area, including Bahrain, Failaka, Tarut, and certain parts of the Arabian littoral (During Caspers and Govindakutty, JESHO 21 (1978): 130; cf. the map in D.O.Edzard and G.Farber, Repertoire Geographique des Textes Cuneiformes 2, Wiesbaden, 1974)..." (Bendt Alster, opcit., 1983, p. 41).


The following seals of Mesopotamia contain features reminiscent of themes depicted on the seals of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization. Typical motifs are: rows of animals, combat, antelope or tiger with head turned, woman with thighs spread out, circle-and-dot, one-horned bull, hare, plant, snake, bird, fish. All these motifs have been explained as related to metallic weapons, in the context of the decipherment of Indus script pictorials and signs. In the Mesopotamian motifs, there are clear images related to WEAPONS.

The only motif that is remarkably unique in Mesopotamian seals is the LION. Only a tiger motif appears on the seals of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization. The closest to a lion motif is the bristled-hair (like a lion's mane) on the face of the three-faced, fully adorned, horned, seated person surrounded by animals and an inscription.

Beatrice Teissier, Ancient Near Eastern Cylinder Seals: From the Marcopoli Collection, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1984.

cylmarc313.jpg (12402 bytes) ca. 3100-2900 BC; serpentine; cat. 313; top end converges into a squat perforated handle; pattern on stamp base of seal. Row of open double-lined lozenges with circle and dot motif in center. Circle and dot motif along upper and lower edge and on base of seal.
cylmarc343.jpg (8773 bytes) ca. 2700-2200 BC; serpentine; cat. 343; a crossed lion and a bearded bull between a rampant gazelle and a bull (?). In the field: drill holes, curved shape resembling a pommel (handle of sword).
cylmarc371.jpg (4394 bytes) ca. 2000-1900 BC; serpentine; cat. 371; two figures stand beside an antelope and a bull. In the field: serpent, dagger, ball staff. In the sky: disc and crescent.
cylmarc375.jpg (4435 bytes) ca. 2000-1900 BC; serpentine; cat. 375; two figures stand beside two rampant hares. In the field: schematic plant, star.
cylmarc379.jpg (4901 bytes) ca. 2000-1900 BC; serpentine; cat. 379; a figure drives a spear into a lion attacking a bull. In the sky: bird, star, crescent.
cylmarc381.jpg (4282 bytes) ca. 1900 BC; serpentine; cat. 381; two figures stand facing each other, holding a spear between them. Terminal: two schematic bull-men, snake.
cylmarc580.jpg (6741 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1450-1300 BC; pyro-phyllite; cat. 580; a kneeling figure grasps an antelope by the hind legs. A lion attacks the antelope from behind. In the sky: fish.
cylmarc581.jpg (10859 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1550-1350 BC; composition; cat. 581; two crossed bulls. Terminal: laticed panel.
cylmarc584.jpg (6673 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1500-1300 BC; chert; cat. 584; two figures stand grasping a tree between them. In the field: ball staff, drill hole. Terminal: fish, bull's head, drill hole above recumbent antelope and star.
cylmarc585.jpg (3918 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1500-1300 BC; hematite; cat. 585; two figures stand before a seated deity holding a triple lightning fork. In the field: incomplete ankh. In the sky: three stars.
cylmarc586.jpg (7467 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1500-1300 BC; hematite; cat. 586; a worshipper presents an antelope to a deity standing on a lion which it holds by a leash. A nude goddess with hands clasped under her breasts stands between them. In the field: bird. In the sky: two rosettes. Terminal: inscription. IS'KUR.MU-u-s.ur = Adad-sum-us.ur
cylmarc589.jpg (3988 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1500-1300 BC; hematite; cat. 589; a lion atacks an antelope. Recumbent antelope above the lion. In the field: animal head, fish. In the sky: winged sun disc, drill holes.
cylmarc630.jpg (4172 bytes) Mitannian seal; ca. 1450-1300 BC; chert; cat. 630; animal row: two antelopes and a lion. In the sky: scorpion, drill hole.
cyluruk1.jpg (41782 bytes) Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; ca. 3200-3000 BC; serpentine; cat.1; boar and bull in procession; terminal: plant; heavily pitted surface beyond plant
cyluruk2.jpg (24589 bytes) Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; ca. 3200-3000 BC; talc; cat.2; two gazelles (?) with heads turned backward, an antelope, a recumbent antelope (?), with two smaller indistinguishable animals above; in the field: plant(?)
cyluruk3.jpg (18880 bytes) Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; ca. 3200-3000 (?) BC; marble; cat.3;  loop bore; an antelope wiht two panchers, one with head turned.
cyluruk4.jpg (26806 bytes) Late Uruk and Jemdet Nasr seal; marble; ca. 3200-3000 BC; cat.4; surface divided into 3 panels, from l. to r.: (a) squatting figure with arms raised to pot, (b) squatting figure with arms raised to pot, second pot on ground, (c) two figures squat one behind the other with their arms raised before them.
cylmarc076.jpg (11395 bytes) ca. 2334-2260 BC; serpentine; cat. 76; two groups in combat. a hero wearing a kilt and a conical cap wrestles with a lion attacking a bull. A urinating bull-man wrestles with a water-buffalo.
cylmarc077.jpg (12286 bytes) ca, 2334-2260 BC (early); marble; cat. 77; a hero in combat with a urinating, human-headed bull. A similar bull with forelegs resting on a bush stands to one side.
cylmarc078.jpg (15587 bytes) ca. 233-2220 BC (early-mature); serpentine; cat. 78; two kilted heroes, one wearing a feathered crown and other a chignon, grapple with a lion attacking a bull. In the field: a small naked bearded figure kneels facing right
cylmarc079.jpg (9374 bytes) ca. 2254-2220 BC (mature); ceramic; cat. 79; two groups in combat. A naked, bearded hero wrestles with a water buffalo, and a bull-man wrestles with a lion. In the centre: inscription (unread). Appears to be recut.
cylmarc080.jpg (27809 bytes) ca. 2334-2260 BC (Early); serpentine; cat. 80; six dieties in combat in groups of two. A deity with rays issuing from the shoulders and holding a mace subdues a kneeling deity. A third deity with a mace grapples with a deity also armed with a mace. A fifth deity with a mace clutches an unarmed deity. In the field: mountain.
cylmarc081.jpg (10269 bytes) ca. 2334-2220 BC (early-mature); serpentine; cat. 81; a deity with rays issuing from the shoulders and holding a saw (?) and a mace ascends a mountain. A worshipper carrying a kid salutes a deity opening a portal to the ascending deity.
cylmarc082.jpg (18223 bytes) ca. 2334-2154 BC (mature); serpentine; cat. 82; a deity with rays issuing from the shoulders and a human figure sit opposite each other, each with an arm raised. An attendant stands between them, saluting the deity. In the field: mace. In the sky: crescent. Terminal: palm tree.
cylmarc285.jpg (16099 bytes) ca. 750-600 BC; chalcedony; cat. 285; a hero in a short kilt stands between two ibexes and graps their horns. In the field: plant in vase. In the sky: star, crescent.
cylmarc188.jpg (5743 bytes) ca. 900-700 BC; chert;cat. 188; a rosette and a bull. Terminal: plant (the linear striations on the bull's body are reminiscent of certain seals of the late Kassite style). The bull is pictured like the Indus one-horned bull, but in motion with 3 legs seen in profile.
cylmarc286.jpg (14613 bytes) ca. 750-600 BC; chalcedony; cat. 286; lower edge chipped; a hero with a quiver on his back, and armed with a scimitar, holds a rearing bull by a horn. In the field: rhomb, stylus, marru. In the sky: ankh, star, crescent.
cylmarc290.jpg (13141 bytes) Achaemenian seal; ca. 521-400 BC; agate; slight chipping along upper and lower edge. A royal figure holds two lions at bay. In the sky: winged sun disk.
cylmarc293.jpg (12486 bytes) Achaemenian seal; ca. 521-400 BC; lentoid; agate. A royal figure holds two bearded ibexes at bay.























































































In 1977 the Arab Archaeological Mission and the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums of the State of Bahrain excavated the mounds of Sar, near the causeway between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Bahrain. Shell seals were found. [Haya Al Khalifa, The shell seals of Bahrain, pp. 255-259]

bahrain1.jpg (25292 bytes)
Barhain seal: ten circular depressions surround the spiral
bahrain2.jpg (18945 bytes)
Bahrain seal: Two antelopes
bahrain3.jpg (21402 bytes)
Bahrain seal: four antelope heads emanating from a star









fig85.jpg (12769 bytes)
Fig.85; Susa, tablet:
seal impression,
Louvre Sb 11221
fig86.jpg (7866 bytes)
Fig. 86; Susa, sealing:
seal impressionl Louvre
MDAI, 43, no. 240
fig87.jpg (8073 bytes)
Fig. 87; Susa, stamp seal
from the Gulf, Louvre,
MDAI, 43, No. 1716; depicts two goat-antelopes
crouching head to tail, inside and outside
an oval. Incised eyes are saucer-shaped.
fig88.jpg (9356 bytes)
Fig. 88; Susa, stamp seal
from the Gulf,
Teheran museum,
MDAI, 43, no. 1717; an animal tamer
wearing a skirt and grasping with
one hand a goat-antelope with its
head turned back and with its
feet bound; with the other hand,
the person holds
a large object which looks like an
architectural feature or shield.
fig89.jpg (10551 bytes)
Fig. 89; Susa, stamp seal
from the Gulf,
Teheran Museum,
MDAI, 43, no. 1718; a person, naked and thin,
has a stylised head shaped like a narrow arch
with indentations to mark the nose and mouth.
Animals have bound feet and surround
a square object on which the person stands.
fig90.jpg (19102 bytes)
Fig.90; Susa, cylinder seal
from the Gulf,
MDAI, 43, no. 2021; made of steatite;
a person with a horned tiara,
wearing an unevenly chequered robe;
the person is attended by a
naked man and alongside are
two tamers grasping a pair of
crossed animals.
fig91.jpg (26643 bytes)
Fig. 91; Susa, cylinder seal
from the Gulf, Teheran
Museum, MDAI, 43,
no. 1975; steatite; three figures with
stylised heads in the form of notched
arches, wearing boldly chequered skirts;
one is seated; the other two stand with
backs turned, hold an enormous
feathered arrow, and one of them
extends a hand towards a stylised
fig92.jpg (16609 bytes)Fig. 92; Susa,
stamp seal made of
bitumen compound,
Louvre, MDAI, 43,
no. 1726; a tamer with
three heavily hatched animals
fig93.jpg (21652 bytes)Fig. 93;
Susa stamp seal made of
bitumen compound,
Louvre, MDAI, 43,
no. 1720
fig94.jpg (11801 bytes)Fig. 94;
Susa, stamp seal from a
butimen compound,
Louvre, MDAI, 43, no. 1726
fig95.jpg (12227 bytes)Fig. 95;
Susa, stamp seal of
bitumen compound,
Louvre, MDAI, 43, no. 1725;
a woman shown full-face is
squatting with legs apart,
possibly on a stool.
(A similar image of a woman
with legs spread out
occurs on an Indus tablet).



































"Susa... profound affinity between the Elamite people who migrated to Anshan and Susa and the Dilmunite people... Elam proper corresponded to the plateau of Fars with its capital at Anshan. We think, however that it probably extended further north into the Bakhtiari Mountains... likely that the chlorite and serpentine vases reached Susa by sea... From the victory proclamations of the kings of Akkad we also learn that the city of Anshan had been re-established, as the capital of a revitalised political ally: Elam itself... the import by Ur and Eshnunna of inscribed objects typical of the Harappan culture provides the first reliable chronological evidence. [C.J. Gadd, Seals of ancient Indian style found at Ur, Proceedings of the British Academy, XVIII, 1932; Henry Frankfort, Tell Asmar, Khafaje and Khorsabad, OIC, 16, 1933, p. 50, fig. 22). It is certainly possible that writing developed in India before this time, but we have no real proof. Now Susa had received evidence of this same civilisation, admittedly not all dating from the Akkadian period, but apparently spanning all the closing years of the third millennium (L. Delaporte, Musee du Louvre. Catalogues des Cylindres Orientaux..., vol. I, 1920, pl. 25(15), S.29. P. Amiet, Glyptique susienne, MDAI, 43, 1972, vol. II, pl. 153, no. 1643)... B. Buchanan has published a tablet dating from the reign of Gungunum of Larsa, in the twentieth century BC, which carries the impression of such a stamp seal. (B.Buchanan, Studies in honor of Benno Landsberger, Chicago, 1965, p. 204, s.). The date so revealed has been whollyconfirmed by the impression of a stamp seal from the same group, fig. 85, found on a Susa tablet of the same period. (P. Amiet, Antiquites du Desert de Lut, RA, 68, 1974, p. 109, fig. 16. Maurice Lambert, RA, 70, 1976, p. 71-72). It is in fact, a receipt of the kind in use at the beginning of the Isin-Larsa period, and mentions a certain Milhi-El, son of Tem-Enzag, who, from the name of his god, must be a Dilmunite. In these circumstances we may wonder if this document had not been drawn up at Dilmun and sent to Susa, after sealing with a local stamp seal. This seal is decorated with six tightly-packed, crouching animals, characterised by their vague shapes, with legs tucked under their bodies, huge heads and necks sometimes striped obliquely. The impression of another seal of similar type, fig. 86, depicts in the centre a throned figure who seems to dominate the animals, continuing a tradition of which examples are known at the end of the Ubaid period in Assyria... Fig. 87 to 89 are Dilmun-type seals found at Susa. The boss is semi-spherical and decorated with a band across the centre and four incised circles. [Pierre Amiet, Susa and the Dilmun Culture, pp. 262-268].

Dilmun (Failaka) seals
[Poul Kjaerum, The Dilmun Seals as evidence of long distance relations in the early second millennium BC, pp. 269-277.]

fig96a.jpg (23131 bytes)
Fig.96a; Dilmun seal from Barbar; six heads of
antelope radiating from
a circle; similar to animal protomes
in Filaka, Anatolia and Indus.
fig96b.jpg (17298 bytes)Fig. 96b; Failaka no. 267;
harp with taurine sound-box
fig96f.jpg (13915 bytes)Fig. 96f: Failaka no. 260
Double antelope joined at the belly;
in the Levant,
similar doubling occurs for a lion
fig102.jpg (17492 bytes)Fig. 102; Failaka no. 126; antelopes flanking a line (standard?)
fig99.jpg (18529 bytes)Fig. 99; Failaka; no. 174 impression;
two bull heads emanating from a chequered
square; two persons drinking; altar and sun;
bull in the lower register
fig103.jpg (18284 bytes)Fig. 103; Failaka no. 206; serpents held in the hands
fig100.jpg (14753 bytes)Fig. 100; Failaka no. 83
impression; a person flanked by
two bulls, each standing atop
a chequered square
fig104.jpg (17458 bytes)Fig. 104; Failaka; no. 89 impression; bulls; antelopes; person; chequered square; trough?
fig101.jpg (17881 bytes)Fig. 101; Failaka no. 82;
entwined serpent in the middle;
two antelopes standing atop a
chequered rectangle; two bulls
in lower register.
fig105.jpg (19021 bytes)Fig. 105; Failaka no. 204; is the person seated on a bull?

























Demonstrating a connection between Dilmun and Syria based on seal imagery, Buchanan observes: "It seems possible that around 2000 BC, the Persian Gulf merchants had a relationship, other than one involving trade, with some ethnic element in Syria (merchants or colonists)". (Briggs Buchanan, 1965, A Persian Gulf Seal, Studies in Honor of Benno Landsberger, 199-209, Chicago, p. 207).

Lapis lazuli seals and sources

In Mesopotamian and Sarasvati-Sindhu valley sites, significant numbers of objects of lapis lazuli have been found. In the 'royal' tombs,lapis lazuli, carnelian and gold are the three important materials used. Lapis lazuli is a rare stone found in Badakhshan mines (NE Afghanistan, currently known as Kerano-Munjan), in the Pamirs and near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia (F. Rutley, Elements of Mineralogy (rev. by H.H. Read 1948), pp. 380-381). "Darius states that his lapis lazuli came from his satrapy of Sogdia, in which province Badakhshan was located; and finally, the colour range from Sar-i-Sang is closely comparable to that of archaeological lapis lazuli. The varying shades of the pieces of veneer on the 'Standard' of Ur, for instance, can be exactly paralleled by modern specimens from Badakhshan...

uruk1.jpg (35949 bytes)
W14772 cl
gawra1.jpg (25682 bytes)
Fig. 4

The lapis lazuli seal W. 14772 cl relates to the Uruk IV period. The unstratified lapis lazuli seal G.7-205 (Fig. 4b) has the figures of two salukis and a 'fox'... This is comparable to the impression of another seal found at that level (Fig. 4a)... Also comparable are the seal impressions shown in Fig. 4c and 4d. Fig. 4c has two superimposed dogs on the left and the hunted animal with turned head in front of them. Fig. 4d, if divided horizontally also shows a similar scene... Porada has noted that filling motifs of 'disembodied heads of horned animals are another feature of the period'.[A.J.Tobler, Excavations at Tepe Gawra, II, Levels IX-XX, 1950, p. 192; Georgina, Herrmann, Lapis Lazuli: the early phases of its trade, in Iraq 30, 1968, pp.21-54]

mapbadak.jpg (101978 bytes) NE Afghanistan, 4 lapis-lazuli mines are at heights ranging from 6000 to 17000 ft.:
Sar-i-sang, S (Stromby), C (Chilmak) and R (Robat-i-Paskaran); Sar-i-sang mine is worked even today.
[After Georgina, Herrmann, Lapis Lazuli: the early phases of its trade, in Iraq 30, 1968.




Aratta. Enmerkar, the king of Uruk (Early Dynastic Period II) wanted from the state of Aratta: gold, silver and semi-precious stones, particularly lapis lazuli, to beautify shrines and temples, especialy the Apsu temple in Eridu. He implored Inanna: " O my sister, Inanna, for Erech Let them (the people of Aratta) fashion artfully gold (and) silver, Let them... pure lapis lazuli from the slab,.... Of the holy giparru where you have established (your) dwelling... Let the people of Aratta, Having brought down the stones of the mountains from their highland, Build for me the great chapel, set up for me the great shrine." (S.N.Kramer, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, p. 9, line 38 ff.). To reach Aratta, Enmerkar's herald had to traverse Anshan, a kingdom bordering Elam... and then cross seven further 'mighty mountains'. (S.N.Kramer, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, A Sumerian Epic Tale of Iraq and Iran, 1952, p. 17, line 166 ff.) Enmerkar was the second king of the first dynasty of Ur, of which Gilgamesh was the fifth.

edii.jpg (16225 bytes)

Seven EDII seals show contest friezes (Ashmolean Museum) The lapis lazuli seal shows in the lower register geometric motifs reminiscent of the Jemdat Nazr Diyala seals. ram in the thicket has not only horns, fringe, beard, eyes and eye-rims of lapis lazuli, but also part of its fleece is made of overlapping sections of the blue stone. Lapis lazuli was also used in amulets sculpted as frogs, fish, flies, calves, bulls, rams, ibex, monkey, seated bull, eagle. 37 Royal cemetery seals depict banqueting scenes, (generally belonging to ED III) all except five depict these scenes in two registers. Some seals have on one register a contest, spread eagle or animal row motif. Contest friezes in the 'fara' style began in EDI.

ninbanda.jpg (10157 bytes)

The seal of Nin-banda. In the upper register, the central figure is a man who grasps two animals around their necks. The animals are attacked from the rear by another animal, whom they turn to face. The lower register shows two crossed lions attacking two animals whose bodies are sharply angled. 53 lapis lazuli seals of EDIII date depict contest friezes; of these 17 are from Ur. A total of 138 lapis lazuli seals are assigned to this date.

Dilmun, Meluhha, Makkan

"Around 2500 BC, Dilmun is first referred to as a supplier of wood, by Urnanshe, King of Lagash. His successors, Lugalanda and Uri'inimgina (before 2350 BC) dispensed various textiles, resins, oil and silver out of the state storehouses to merchants of Lagash. The merchants were to trade the goods in Dilmun for copper and other wares, such as onions, linen, resin and bronze 'marine spoons'... During the succeeding Old Akkadian Period (2334-2193 BC) the Mesopotamians were no longer the only traders to visit Dilmun. The seas were open to all contries and seafaring merchants from the distant lands of Dilmun, Meluhha and Makkan tied up at Akkad's quay, during Sargon's reign (2334-2279 BC). Copper was shipped directly from Makkan; people from Meluhha are mentioned in written sources as interpreters and seamen. During the reign of Gudea of Lagash, copper, diorite and wood were delivered from Makkan and Meluhha delivered rare woods (such as Sissoo wood), gold, tin, lapis lazuli and carnelian to Lagash. Naramsin warred against Makkan; Mesopotamia strove for predominance in the area... Ships from Makkan did not sail to the north. It appears that one or more trading centers in Makkan were visited during the voyages where Makkan wares-- chiefly copper-- and luxury items from Meluhha were bartered. Therefore it appears that many wares referred to in the written sources as 'Makkan goods', actually were materials originally brought from Meluhha. Through trans-shipment in Makkan, these goods were then later referred to as coming from Makkan; the same confusion occurs later with materials from Dilmun... Both the goods and the foreign merchants trading in Dilmun's markets influenced forms of trade. The cuneiform characters had been taken over from the Sumerians, but the system of weights used in barter derived from the Indus Valley culture. (Michael Road, Weights on the Dilmun Standard, Iraq, vol. 44, 1982, 137-141). Spreading out from Dilmun, this system of weights became very popular and was used as far away as Ebla in Syria... Dilmun is mentioned for the last time in written records, during the reign of Samsu'liluma in the year 1744 BC, with the entry...'12 measures of purified copper from Alasia and Dilmun'. With this notice, the new supplier of copper is also mentioned; Alasia (Cyprus) would control the Mediterranean and Near Eastern market for copper for the next millennium. Alasia's rise did not occur in isolation; obviously a lengthy series of crises led to the collapse of the existing system in the East. Unlike Dahlak, Dilmun did not cease to exist; Tukulti-Ninurta refers to himself as 'King of the Upper and Lower Seas' and ruler over Dilmun and Meluhha. However, Meluhha and Makkan are no longer referred to in written records in the old sense.

"...More recent arcaheological researches in East Arabia have brought to light many finds which are related to the presence of Indus valley people. In the settlements of Hili 8 and Maysar-1, both of which have been investigated, Indus valley pottery is frequently found. Seals with Indus valley script and typical iconography indicate influences in Makkan down to the level of business organization. Marks identifying pottery in Makkan were taken from those used in the Indus valley, including the use of the signs on pottery used in the Indus valley. The discovery of a sea-port-- which may be ascribed to the Harappans-- at Ra's al-Junayz on Oman's east coast by an Italian expedition would seem to indicate that trade routes should be viewed in a more differentiated fashion than has been done upto now." [Sege Cleuziou, Preliminary report on the second and third excavation campaigns at Hili 8, Archaeology in the United Arab Emirates, vol. 2/3, 1978/79, 30ff.; Gerd Weisgerber, '...und Kupfer in Oman', Der Anschnitt, vol. 32, 1980, 62-110; Gerd Weisgerber, Makkan and Meluhha- 3rd millennium copper production in Oman and evidence of contact with the Indus valley, Paper read in Cambridge 1981 and to appear in South Asia Archaeology 1981; Maurizio Tosi, A possible Harappan seaport in Eastern Arabia: Ra's al-Junayz in the Sultanate of Oman, Manuscript]." Gerd Weisgerber, Dilmun--a trading entrepot; evidence from historical and archaeological sources, 135-142 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986. [Simo Parpola/Asko Parpola/Robert H. Brunswig, The Meluhha village. evidence of acculturation of Harappan traders in the later third millennium Mesopotamia?, Journal of the Economic and Political History of the Orient, vol. 20, 1977, 129-165. 'If the tablets and their sealed envelopes had not been found, in fact, we might never have suspected the existence of a merchant colony.' (T. Ozguc, An Assyrian trading outpost, Scientific American, 1962, 97 ff.) cited after Lamberg-Karlovsky 1972).]

"Oman peninsula/Makkan lies half way between the two main civilization centres of the third millennium Middle East: Mesopotamia and the Indus valley... an increasing influence of Harappan civilization on Eastern Arabia during the last two centuries of the third millennium. This influence seems to strengthen during the early second millennium where proper Harappan objects are found all over the Oman peninsula: a cubic stone weight at Shimal, sherds of Harappan storage jars on several sites including Hili 8 (period III). Maysar and Ra's Al-Junayz bears a Harappan inscription and Tosi (forth.) has emphasized the importance of this discovery for the knowledge of Harappan control over the Oman Sea." [Serge Cleuziou, Dilmun and Makkan during the third and early second millennia BC, 143-155 in: Shaikha Haya Ali Al Khalifa and Michael Rice (eds.) Bahrain through the ages: the archaeology, London, KPI, 1986.]