Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Stone Seals Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 5 items
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-18
Samaritan Aramaic


Consists of 244 stones used in Mesopotamia and adjacent areas of the ancient Near East from prehistoric times to make impressions in clay, particularly seals on clay tablets and their envelopes.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The Manuscripts Division holds a total of 244 stone seals from Mesopotamia, Syria, and other areas of the ancient Near East. The seals are in three collections, respectively assembled and donated by Moses Taylor Pyne (1855-1921), Class of 1877; Robert Garrett (1875-1961), Class of 1897; and Edward D. Balken (1874-1960), Class of 1897. The seals range in age from Sumerian and Akkadian examples of the 2nd and 3rd millennia BCE to Persian examples of the pre-Islamic Sassanian period. The stone seals are primarily cylinder seals and stamp seals carved from hematite, serpentine, steatite, chalcedony, chlorite, lapis lazuli, quartz, and other varieties of stone.

Superscripts are displayed in curly braces.


The seals are numbered in three series: 1) Pyne, nos. 31-134; 2) Garrett, nos. 1-49, 136-143; and 3) Balken, nos. 1-77 (excluding 74, which is skipped.) In addition, there are 6 seals without accession numbers.

Collection History


The seals were gifts of Moses Taylor Pyne (Princeton Class of 1877), Robert Garrett (Princeton Class of 1897), and Edward D. Balken (Princeton Class of 1897).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Feng Zhu '14 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Stone Seals Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-18

Find More

Other Finding Aids

The finding aid is comprised of two unpublished preliminary listings: (1) Rudolf H. Mayr, "Preliminary Checklist of Stone Seals in the Princeton University Library"; and (2) Albrecht Goetze, "Mesopotamian Seals in the Collection of Robert Garrett." Cyrus H. Gordon wrote several brief articles relating in whole or part to the Princeton collections: "Seals from Ancient Western Asia," Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 12, no. 2 (1951), pp. 49-54; "Near Eastern Saeals and Cuneiform Tablets," Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 14, no. 1 (1952), pp. 45-46; "Near Eastern Seals in Princeton and Philadelphia," Orientalia, new series, vol. 22, fasc. 3 (1953), pp. 242-50, plates 57-70. There is also one stone seal in the Scheide Library and a substantial collection of stone seals in the Princeton University Art Museum.

Subject Terms:
Civilization, Assyro-Babylonian.
Seals (Numismatics) -- Iraq.
Seals (Numismatics) -- Middle East.
Genre Terms:
Seals (Numismatics).
Balken, Edward Duff, 1874-1960
Pyne, M. Taylor (Moses Taylor), 1855-1921
Robert Garrett
Iraq -- History -- To 634 -- Sources.