Sasanian Empire

A Sasanian Seal Collection in Context: Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative Publication of the Edward Gans Collection at University of California, Berkeley

Guitty Azarpay and Jeanette Zerneke
May 2002
This Internet publication provides online access to the collection of Sasanian sealstones in the collection of the University of California at Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies Department and contextual information on the Sasanian Empire.

The study offers a comprehensive analysis of some 370 sealstones attributed to the Persian Sasanian empire (AD 224-641) in Western Asia during the period of Late Antiquity. The database for the present publication contains information about the seal's pictorial theme and motifs, shape, material of manufacture, iconography and inscription. It is hoped that this database of Sasanian seals may be enriched by the future addition to it of other Sasanian seal collections that may be cataloged according to the relatively simple format adopted for the present study.

Electronic publication of the Seal Collection enhances the value of the collection in the following ways. It provides global access to enlarged images of the objects and of their impressions and it enables users to search the collection with multiple criteria. The user may quickly compare seals not only within this publication but also with seals from other collections. Detailed information on the history of the collection, its content, and cataloging methodology is included.

Contextual information on the history of the Sasanian Empire, maps of the empire’s extent, a gazetteer of important sites in the Empire, and images of archaeological sites are included. A map interface allows interactive viewing of the context of the empire and access to the seal collection and background information. The map interface and contextual information is provided to enhance the research and teaching value of the publication. It is hoped that by presenting a spatio-temporal context for the seal collection, research on the provenance of the seals, and other spatio-temporal patterns will be encouraged. Placing the seals in their historical context creates a cultural resource for use in teaching about the rich heritage of the Middle East.

1,176 images, 1 pdf file, 5 maps. ISBN: 0-9722712-0-1