Rolling Out History: Creating Cylinder Seal Impressions overview image

Rolling Out History: Creating Cylinder Seal Impressions

  • Post Date: 6/12/2007
  • Reading Time: 2 minute read

As part of a joint research project between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Southern California, UIUC students from Professor Wayne Pitard’s Religious Studies course “Literacy in the Ancient World” created impressions of Mesopotamian cylinder seals from the Museum’s collection. Christa and John of the Museum’s Collections Management Section were on hand to assist with the project.

  • Preparing the Modeling Clay
    Phase 1 - Preparing the Modeling Clay: Modeling clay is used to create the impressions. Using a pasta machine, Megan Davis prepares the clay by flattening it into strips. Rebecca Bott and Camilla Noel observe and learn the technique.
  • Placing the Modeling the Clay
    Phase 2 - Placing the Modeling the Clay: With the strips of clay placed into a rolling track, Rebecca uses a rolling pin to flatten the clay as Christa supervises.
  • Dusting the Cylinder Seal
    Phase 3 - Dusting the Cylinder Seal: Christa holds the cylinder seal as Kyle Garton applies a light coat of talc onto the seal to prevent it from sticking to the clay.
  • Rolling the Cylinder Seal
    Phase 4 - Rolling the Cylinder Seal: A student gently rolls the cylinder seal in the clay, creating an impression of the detailed design etched on the cylinder.
  • Cutting out the Seal Impression
    Phase 5 - Cutting out the Seal Impression: Christa cuts out the clearest portion of the impression.
  • The Final Product
    Phase 6 - The Final Product: After being baked in an oven, the cylinder seal impressions are ready for scholars, researchers, and students to study.