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A Hittite Seal from Megiddo

By Itamar Singer

Peter Neve's excavations in Hattusa enriched us with thousands of new seal impressions which will open new vistas in the study of Hittite glyptics (Neve 1993:52-58). I have re-published one seal in this modest contribution in honor of a much admired friend and colleague. This seal has hardly any importance per se, except for its place of discovery-Megiddo, a town with other connections to the Hittite world.

The seal was found in the excavations of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago in the late thirties.1 It comes from Area CC, Locus 1829, Stratum VII B (Loud 1948:156) which is dated to the thirteenth century bce. The area is residential, and the structure in which the seal was found has nothing particular to distinguish it from other neighboring houses (Loud 1948:fig. 409).The biconvex seal is made of steatite and measures nineteen mm maximum in diameter, eleven mm in thickness. The perforation runs perpendicular to the inscription on face B. Both faces of the seal are framed by a circular border. This type of Hittite seal is dated to the thirteenth century bce (Gorny 1993:191). A photograph of the seal was published in Megiddo II (Loud 1948:pl. 162:7) together with a short comment by I. J. Gelb.2 Clelia Mora's corpus of Hittite seals includes a sketch drawing based on this photograph and a tentative reading.3 Collation of the original seal in the Oriental Institute Museum (A 20551)4 provides, I believe, an improved reading of the name.

Face A depicts a somewhat ill-designed animal, probably a lion, striding to the right (on the impression). Its long, curving tail is similar to that of lions depicted on other seals and the very schematic head seems to represent the open mouth of a roaring lion (so also Mora 1987, but Gelb, above n., thought the animal was a dog). Above the animal there is a large "filler" which resembles the floral motif L 1525 (rather than a bird, as tentatively suggested by Mora). An additional large "filler" is between the animal's legs, and there is a smaller one in front of his chest. Face B has the name of the seal owner running from top to bottom, his title on the left, and the combination "WELL-BEING" and "MAN" on the right. It reads:

L 450-395-312-376; 289; 370; 386 = À-nu-VIRZI AURIGA; BONUS; VIR

Anu-ziti; Charioteer; Well-being; Man. Two small "fillers" are on each side of the zi.

The first V-shaped sign (L 450) usually has its "arms" more closed (see e.g., Gonnet 1991:450), but it seems that the seal carver had difficulties in reproducing accurate signs.6 The "a" vocalism is more often expressed on Anatolian seals with a (L 209) or ½ (L 19), but it is quite common on the Hittite seals from Meskene/Emar, especially in initial position.7 The second sign has only seven strokes, one of them very poorly carved. Nevertheless, its identification with nu (L 395) is very probable. Quite often this sign appears with less than the "required" nine strokes, with eight or even with seven (DinÙol and DinÙol 1980:24, no. 8 with further refs.; DinÙol 1983:Taf. XXIII/23 A). AURIGA (L 289) is represented with a large rhomboid attached to two instead of the usual three vertical lines (representing the reins of a chariot). In short, both the inscription and the drawing seem to have been performed by a somewhat inexperienced seal engraver.

The name Anu-ziti is so far unattested, but both its elements are attested in Anatolian names (Laroche 1966:34, 324f.). The main interest of the seal is in the title or profession of the owner, "charioteer," which corresponds to cuneiform kartappu (Laroche 1956:29ff.). As I tried to show in a prosopography of Takuhlinu of Ugarit (Singer 1983:9ff.), the title was born by official diplomats of Hatti and of vassal states. The office was originally connected with horses and chariots (hence the hieroglyphic sign representing reins). Some of the kartappu mentioned in texts from Hattusa and from Ugarit functioned as special deputies of their rulers in complicated diplomatic missions. For example, Zuzzu was involved in the negotiations preceding the royal marriage between Ramesses II and a Hittite princess.8 Diplomatic envoys were particularly active in the new bond between Hatti and Egypt after the signing of the Peace Treaty in 1258 bce.

Megiddo was an important station on the diplomatic route between the two royal courts. A fragmentary Akkadian letter from Bogazköy demonstrates this with its two-fold mention of the town Makkitta (KBo 28. 86; Singer 1988). The context leaves no doubt that this is Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley, frequented by Egyptian and Hittite messengers traveling between their respective courts. The text preserves the name of one Hittite messenger only partly, but it can plausibly be restored as Ti[li-Tesub], who is explicitly designated in an Ugaritic text as "the messenger who was sent to Egypt." From other texts we learn that the Hittite and the Egyptian diplomatic missions consisted each of several envoys, probably of different rank and qualification.9 The best known Hittite connection with Megiddo is the exquisite Hittite ivory plaque found in the "treasury" of the palace in Area AA, now in the Oriental Institute Museum.10 Stylistic and historical considerations point to a late imperial date for the plaque, coinciding with the heyday of Egyptian-Hittite cooperation in the second half of the thirteenth century bce.11 Anu-ziti's seal joins this constellation of indicators of the significance of Megiddo on the political map of the thirteenth century. Perhaps the renewed excavations at Megiddo will provide further evidence for the role of this city in the Pax Hethitica-Egyptiaca.

1 This is, so far, the only Hittite stamp seal found in a controlled excavation in Israel. Two silver ring seals were found at Tell el-Farah (Petrie 1930:pl. XXXVI; Macdonald, et al. 1932: pl. LXXIII: 58, 65 and p. 30) and one of bronze at Tel Nami (Singer 1994). In addition, a Hittite bulla was found at Tel Aphek (Singer 1977).

2 "It belongs to the class of perforated button seals. One side is occupied by the name of the owner written in Hittite hieroglyphic characters, the other by a picture of a dog (or panther, according to Bossert) and a few symbols. The form of the seal, the signs, and the pictorial representations are typically Hittite. The seal most probably dates from the time of the Neo-Hittite Empire (i.e. , ca. 1400-1200 B.C.)."

3 Mora 1987:266, XI 3. 4.: x?-ma/ i? - VIR?ZI AURIGA

4 I am indebted to Dr. Emily Teeter and Dr. Raymond Tindel of the Oriental Institute Museum for facilitating my study of this seal and for providing me photographs and impressions, and to Ms. Kate Sarther for the drawing.

5 L + number refers to the enumeration of hieroglyphic signs in Laroche 1960.

6 There is a slight resemblance between this sign and the first sign on Ankara Museum 8 B, identified by the publishers as L 447, Na5 (DinÙol and DinÙol 1980:24, Taf. VIII), which is also followed by nu, but on our seal the first sign lacks the two "thorns" at the bottom.

7 Laroche 1981:10; Gonnet 1991:212; Singer, forthcoming (À-pa-nú ; À-pi-la-lu).

8 KUB 21: 38 obv. 22; Helck 1963: 89. See now Edel 1994 II: 147 ff., 325, 335 for further occurrences of Zuzzu in the Hittite-Egyptian correspondence.

9 For some of the Hittite missions to Egypt, see Singer 1977: 187 n. 18.

10 Loud 1939: 10 ff., pl. 11. For artistic evaluations see in particular Barnett 1982: 28, 34 and fig. 12 and Alexander 1991. For the cultural-political context see Singer 1988-89, where I suggested an Egyptian ownership of this extraordinarily rich collection of objets d'art. (I have to correct now my statement in 1988-89:105, that the two figures at the head of the plaque are Hittite kings. GÄterbock 1993 has convincingly demonstrated that the image topped by a winged disk can only represent the Sun-god of Heaven; see also Alexander, 1991:164).

11 For the late imperial imagery see Alexander, 1991:172 ff. Still unaware of my article (1988-89), Alexander (p. 182) mentions the possibility that the Hittite plaque reached Megiddo after the fall of the Hittite Empire. I consider this possibility as most unlikely.


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