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achaemenid Museum > object categories > seals > Persepolis Fortification Seal 9*
Persepolis Fortification Seal 9*
© Mark B. Garrison
Persepolis Fortification Seal 9* (collated line drawing)

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<< 13/694 >>

Persepolis Fortification Seal 9*

seal type : cylinder seal (reconstructed seal)

seal number : PFS 9*

catalogue number : OIP 117, Cat. No. 288

findspot of the tablets : Persepolis, north-eastern section of the terrace Fortification

period : Achaemenid, during the reign of Darius I

earliest dated application : 505 B.C.

preserved height of image : 1.30 cm (comp.)

preserved length of image : 2.10 cm (comp.)

estimated height of original seal : 1.30 cm

estimated diameter of original seal : 0.70 cm

number of impressions : 107

quality of impressions : fair

completeness of image : complete

source of the information : Mark B. Garrison, Margaret Cool Root, Seals of Persepolis I (OIP 117), 2001

© Chicago University Press / Mark B. Garrison & Margaret Cool Root / 2001

Hero faces left in striding pose, extending straight right arm outward to grasp marchant ostrich by throat; left arm is bent and held down behind body to hold weapon with bent end (perhaps a throw stick). Ostrich moves toward and faces hero. Ostrich extends one wing vertically upward above its body, other diagonally downward under its body; plume-shaped tail extends diagonally upward. Hero wears belted Assyrian garment that leaves forward leg exposed below knee; two diagonal bands are indicated on chest; fringe is indicated along forward edge of lower part of garment over rear leg. Hero perhaps wears domed headdress. Long, rounded, segmented beard rests along hero's chest; rounded, segmented coiffure rests at back of neck. In terminal field, rampant wild goat moves toward hero but turns its head away from him. Goat holds upper foreleg straight and extends it toward hero's shoulder; lower foreleg is bent and extended downward in front of body; short tail curves upward. Large curved horn emerges from front of goat's head; small pointed ear is at back of head; short beard is indicated. Star is in upper terminal field between hero and goat. Inscription is in middle field between hero and ostrich. Inverted crescent is below ostrich. Edge of seal is preserved at top and bottom of design. Three chips appear along bottom edge of seal; two chips are along top edge.



The inscription is in one line, oriented along the vertical axis of the seal. In addition to numerous occurrences in the PF texts, the name Parnaka also appears in the Aramaic inscription on PFS 16* (Cat.No. 22), the second seal of Parnaka.

Charles E. Jones

The seal is the personal seal of Parnaka, chief functionary in the Fortification archive and uncle of Darius the Great.89 This is his first seal, which was replaced by PFS 16* (Cat.No. 22), also a heroic encounter but of the control type, on 6 June 500 B.C.; see PF 2067 and PF 2068. The seal has no administrative or geographical restriction. Most of the bibliography concentrates on the administrative use of PFS 9* and its replacement by PFS 16*. Vallat has published a Fortification-type tablet (purchased on the art market and now in Fribourg) that carries an impression of PFS 9*.The seal image has strong ties to Neo-Assyrian glyptic in a tradition with roots in the Middle Assyrian period; however, PFS 9* is rendered in the Fortification Style.90 It is clearly not a Neo-Assyrian heirloom with an inscription added later.91 The composition is extremely well conceived; note especially how the inverted crescent, inscription, star, and hero's weapon create a frame around the hero, leading the eye immediately to this figure; the inscription seems to act as a caption. The carefully arranged composition also yields clear, easily-read impressions. The large number of symbols in the terminal field is rare in the PFS hero corpus; compare PFS 38 (Cat.No. 16) and PFS 1236 (Cat.No. 159). There is an effective attempt to show the lower wing foreshortened as it emerges from the far side of the ostrich's body.92 The only other ostriches in Volume I appear on PFS 263 (Cat.No. 289) and PFS 29 (Cat.No. 302). For comparative illustrations including PFS 9*, see pls. 176a (Assyrian garments with detailing preserved), 191a (variously detailed beards), 193a (round coiffures), 198b (feet and shoes), 212b (heroic attitudes of combat encounter), 226a (birds), 232a (animals/creatures with distinctive perspectival elements), 245a (various weapons), 252a (crescents and stars), 264a (inscriptions without panels or case lines), 280a (chips in seal matrices), and 285e (personal seals of Parnaka, son of Aršam, uncle of Darius, Chief Functionary at Persepolis).
As is the case with PFS 16* (Cat.No. 2), PFS 9* always occurs alone on tablets that it seals. PF 9* occurs on five surfaces of PF 268. More commonly, the seal is applied to four or three surfaces: the reverse, upper edge, right edge, and left edge of PF 247, PF 267, PF 273, PF 654-656, PF 658-659, PF 661-662, PF 666, PF 1788, PF 1792, and PF 1797; the obverse, upper edge, right edge, and left edge of PF 2025; and the upper edge, right edge, and left edge of PF 657, PF 660, PF 664, PF 1790, PF 1793, PF 1795, PF 1796, and PF 1801. The seal also occurs on only two surfaces: the reverse and left edge of PF 253; the upper edge and left edge of PF 1789 and PF 1791; and the right edge and left edge of PF 1794. The reverse and upper edge often carry two impressions of the seal; on PF 267 the reverse carries three impressions of the seal, yielding six applications in total for the one tablet. Thus, although the actual number of tablets on which this seal occurs in the corpus published by Hallock (1969) is relatively modest (twenty-eight), the number of applications of the seal is nonetheless quite large. This pattern of seal rolling is also found with Parnaka's later seal; see the observations in the entry for PFS 16* (Cat.No. 22). It probably reflects his status as the official in charge of the operations of the system. On ten of the sixteen tablets on which the seal occurs on the reverse the impressions are inverted. Impressions of the seal vary. Some are carefully applied, but others are poorly applied with vertical and lateral distortion. Because the seal is relatively small, complete rollings of the seal are very common. Of the total 107 impressions, ten are too poorly preserved for analysis. Of the remaining ninety-seven impressions, ninety-five show some part of the inscription. This is due to the high number of complete rollings of the seal. In seventy-eight impressions the seal is rolled for at least one complete turn, preserving the entire length of the design; in three applications at least two complete turns of the seal are preserved (here the central element is always the heroic encounter with the inscription repeated three times). Of these seventy-eight complete applications, six display the hero in the center; thirteen display the hero and the ostrich (i.e., the heroic encounter) in the center; thirteen display the hero and the goat in the center; fourteen display the ostrich in the center; twenty-three display the goat in the center; nine display the goat and the ostrich in the center. Of the remaining nineteen partial rollings, seven display the hero in the center; five preserve only the hero and the ostrich; four preserve only the hero and the goat; one displays the ostrich in the center; one preserves only the goat; one preserves only the goat and the ostrich.On the reverse of twelve tablets the seal clearly was applied before the text since several cuneiform wedges cut into the relief along the top or bottom the impressions. PF 1788 is the earliest dated tablet with PFS 9* and is dated 505 B.C.
Aperghis 1999, p. 165; Balcer 1993, p. 84; Boardman 1988, pp. 35-37 (no. 35b); Brosius 1996, pp. 145 (n. 55), 150 (table 6), 157 (table 8), 159; Cameron 1948, p. 53 (n. 51); Dusinberre 1997b, p. 112, figs. 12-13; Garrison 1988, pp. 241, 243, 262, 264-68, 271-72, 282, 525; Garrison 1991, pp. 8-9, figs. 9-10; Garrison 1998, p. 130; Garrison 2000, pp. 153-54; Garrison in press; Garrison and Dion 1999, p. 10; Garrison and Root 1996, pp. 2, 12; Hallock 1977, pp. 128-29, pl. E-6; Hallock 1978, p. 113; Hinz 1971, pp. 271, 302; Keel and Uehlinger 1990, fig. 118; Koch 1990, passim, but esp. pp. 224-27; Koch 1992, pp. 26, 30-31, 33, 36-40, 61, 97, figs. 13, 16; Lewis 1994, pp. 29-30; Moorey 1988, pp. 36-37, fig. 35b; Root 1990a, pp. 130-31; Root 1997, p. 235; Root 1999a, pp. 163, 179-80, 184, fig. 10; Vallat 1994, pp. 264-71, fig. 3; Wiesehšfer 1996, pl. 13a.
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