Document Type : Research Paper


1 * Dept. of Cultural Heritage, University of Padova and ISMEO, Rome

2 CNRS team Archéorient (Lyon, France ; UMR 5133) and University of Tehran

3 Dept. of History and Culture, University of Bologna and ISMEO, Rome.


We re-discuss the so-called Jalalabad seal, a well-known cylinder seal dating of the late 3rd millennium BC, reportedly found in Fars. It displays a scene related to a south-eastern Iranian religious or mythological iconography, showing a male supernatural character with snakes spreading out of his body, probably a divinity, and three women bowed for worship or submission in front of him. This scene is combined with an Indus Script signs sequence which connects this seal to a ‘family’ of short, equally well-known inscriptions in Indus signs recorded on ‘Persian Gulf’ round stamp seals, notably coming from Bahrain, ancient Dilmun, and southern Mesopotamia. The present discussion is based on a new, more detailed recording of the seal's intriguing iconography, and it brings another brick in the already imposing wall of the of acculturation and cosmopolitism phenomena attested in the Persian Gulf during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. At that time, Mesopotamian, Dilmunite, Maganite (Oman), Meluhhan (Indus) and Marhashean (Halil Rud) traders were interacting along the then main Near Eastern commercial highway, and a pervasive process of cultural hybridization was in full development. A review of the various Indus iconographic elements currently known in Iranian glyptic is finally proposed, trying to restitute for each of them their respective historical implications.


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