Erich Lessing

The seal of Tudhaliya IV (1237–1228 B.C.) is stamped on this 4-inch-high fragment of a letter sent to the king of Ugarit, a Hittite vassal state. Although the letter is written in cuneiform, the seal is in Hittite hieroglyphics. It reads: “Great King, Labarna, Tudhaliya.”

The upper emblem on the seal is a winged sun disc—a royal symbol borrowed from Egypt. The two outer signs, thin cones topped by volutes, read “Great King.” The signs to the right and left of center read “Labarna,” a title roughly equivalent to the Roman “Caesar.” The central symbol is a schematic representation of a mountain god; beneath the symbol is an upturned boot, the hieroglyphic sign for the syllable “tu” (“Tudhaliya”).