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The Role of Seals in the Ancient World

February 16, 2016, 12:30 PM


Marta Ameri received her Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 2010. She is currently working as an Assistant Professor of Art History at Colby College where she teaches courses focusing on Ancient, Medieval and Islamic Art.

Her research focuses on the role the seals play as markers of identity and as indicators of intercultural exchange in the Ancient Near East and South Asia. Her dissertation catalogued and examined a group of seals and seal impressions found at the Chalcolithic site of Gilund in Western India. Her current research focuses on the visual analysis of seals of the Indus Valley Civilization. She is also co-editing a major volume which examines the production, use and iconography of seals in the Ancient World, from the Aegean to South Asia. She has excavated in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, India and Oman.

In the ancient world, stamp and cylinder seals were one of the primary tools of administration and played a significant role as markers of social and individual identity. They could be used to identify the carrier, sign documents, seal containers, and lock doors. Like cell phones today, a person could feel lost or naked without his or her seal. At the same time, however, most seals were also extraordinary examples of art in miniature, carved with everything from the seal owner’s name and position to entire mythological scenes featuring numerous gods and goddesses.

This lecture will focus on the ancient Mesopotamian seals, tablets and sealings on loan to the Colby College Art Museum for the Spring 2016 semester. By examining both the artistic and functional aspects of these objects, it is possible to develop a deeper understanding of the practical and ideological concerns of the people of Ancient Mesopotamian, and how these may still be relevant in the modern world.

Registration is not required for this event. There is a snack bar in the museum but food and drinks cannot be taken into the gallery. This is the first time the Global Forum has collaborated with the Colby Art Museum as we reach out to diversify our programs.


February 16, 2016
12:30 PM


Bonnie Sammons
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Mid Maine Global Forum


Colby College Museum of Art
5600 Mayflower Hill Drive
Waterville, ME
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