Make a Clay Seal - Mesopotamia Project
Welcome to Study Guides!

Make a Clay Seal

stone seal
Cylinder seal and square seal from West Asia

July 2016 - The people of ancient Mesopotamia had many baskets which had been sealed with a special mark pressed into a lump of clay. Government officials marked their property so nobody could steal it. Their neighbors further east in India and west in Greece, from the Early Bronze Age, about 2100 BC, learned to use seals too. By the Ch'in Dynasty, about 200 BC, people were also using seals in China.

You can also make seals and seal things. Seals can be made from anything hard enough to mark wet clay (or Play-Dough). You might try carving wood, or making seals out of clay and letting them dry. Be sure to design a seal which is different from anybody else's!

Take a box, like a shoebox, and put something in it. Put the lid on. Stick a gob of clay over the join between the lid and the box, to stick the lid closed, and press your seal into it while the clay is still wet, then let it dry.

Or, just put a small object inside a gob of clay, then seal it and let it dry.

Now mix yours up with other people's. Can you tell which belongs to whom, by comparing the seals? What if you were a thief? How would you try to steal this stuff? What problems would you have?

More about seals

Bibliography and further reading about seals and sealings:

Near Eastern Seals, by Dominique Collon (1991). A good introduction for adults.

The Chinese Chop Pack, by Robin Tzannes (2003). About Chinese seals (called chops), and includes some real chops for you to use!

More about seals
More fun projects home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more? is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 28 April, 2017