Collection De Clercq, Paris

Gilgamesh? Wearing only a belt, the bearded, muscular figure repeated on each side of this cylinder seal impression is customarily identified as Gilgamesh, a semi-legendary ruler of Uruk who was celebrated in some of the most popular Sumerian epic tales. However, no inscription or other evidence proves this suggested identification. The inscription in the cartouche above the water buffalos, who drink liquid flowing from a vase, identifies the seal’s owner as Ibni-sharrum, the scribe, servant of King Sharkali-sharri of Akkad (c. 2215–2191 B.C.).