= Paper =
On the cylinder seal are represented a sacred tree with on each side human-headed bulls. They hold on up-raised hands a winged sun disk from which arise three human heads, a central figure flanked by saluting assistants. On the left, a man raises his hands towards the central group while, on the right, a person wearing a fish costume is performing an act of aspersion. The human-headed bull to the left has his body turned in but is looking back over his shoulder at the suppliant and at a second figure who is holding a sickle-sword in his right hand and under his left arm a quadruped which has its head turned looking at the central scene. Under the hind legs of this animal, a monkey-like creature is crouched facing right. Above the left-most personage are six small six-pointed stars and just above the suppliant’s raised hands is a much larger eight-pointed orb.
The motifs of this scene are Mesopotamian and date to the VIIIth or the VIIth century, while the Aramaic inscription may be dated palaeographically to about the middle of the VIIth century. It reads LTBLY MN ≥BLNH, "(Belonging) to Tabal≠ (or, if aramaic,Tabalay] of Abilena." Tabal≠ (or Tabalay) appears to be a gentilic, referring to the land of Tabal, probably to be located in Asia Minor in one of the areas conquered a few decades earlier by Sargon II of Assyria. The owner of the seal wished to be identified both with his homeland and with his new domicile in the Abilena region of the Anti-Lebanon range on the eastern slopes of the Lebanese Beqa Valley.