A Leaping Stag in a Landscape
Cylinder seal and impression
Mesopotamia, Middle Assyrian period
Chalcedony 30 x 10 mm Seal no. 601
The artist who carved this stag—its antlered head proudly held high, its foreleg poised to land—must have been familiar with the extraordinary grace and dignity of this animal, whose name, lulimu, could also mean "ruler" or "prince." The significance of the scene is unknown; however, an echo of its meaning is found in a biblical text from the Song of Solomon (2:8–9), in which the bride speaks of her bridegroom: "The voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart."