Marble Cylinder Seal, Mesopotamia, Middle Assyrian period, c. 1250–1150 BC
A Winged Hero Pursuing Two Ostriches
In one of the most striking Middle Assyrian seals, a hero pursues an adult ostrich, possibly representing the earthly equivalent of the griffin, the conveyor of death. The fleeing ostrich, with its head turned back in fear and fury and its feathers bristling, ranks among the greatest Mesopotamian depictions of animals. In the biblical Book of Job (39:13–17), the ostrich is considered a malevolent creature because it disdains its young, which may account for the presence of the young ostrich and enhances our understanding of this extraordinary seal.