Cylinder seals are small spool-shaped objects used in the ancient
Near East to mark ownership and seal objects behind doors or in jars,
boxes, or baskets. They were usually made of stone and carved with designs
that appear raised when rolled over wet clay. Cylinder seals were also
worn as pendants or bracelets and were believed to possess magical powers.
They were first made about the time that writing was invented (3500
B.C.) and continued to be made up to about 500 B.C. Thousands of cylinder
seals have survived because they were made of strong materials - usually
stone, but also shell, bone, ivory, glass, and metal.