Hero Pursuing Two Ostriches, Mesopotamian marble cylinder seal and imprint on clay, Middle Assyrian period, c. twelfth/eleventh centuries BCE. “The Arabian or Syrian ostrich’s range seems to have been continuous in prehistoric times, but with the drying-up of the Arabian Peninsula, it disappeared from the inhospitable areas of the Arabian Desert. … In Mesopotamia, it was used as a sacrificial animal and featured in artwork, painted on cups and other objects made from ostrich eggs, traded as far as Etruria during the Neo-Assyrian period.” Cylinder seals seem to functionally prefigure the marriage of money, as a universal equivalent for exchange of commodities, with early forms of coins, forged by a more or less central authority and associated with its still sacred power.
Both ostriches, the baby, too are afraid, they are staring back at the pursuer. Who honorably walks, while they’re running full speed. The lines on the feathers, for example, align with threads on the hero’s dress and hair, emphasizing a distant equivalence established by the sacrificial act of the coming slaying.