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Ancient seal technology shows its age

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2:26pm, February 18, 2003

Somehow, ancient Mesopotamians carved elaborate scenes on the sides of crystal cylinders just centimeters tall. They even did this in reverse, so a cylinder would imprint its owner's mark when rolled across soft clay.

Archeologists have long guessed at engravers' techniques by studying their designs. Now, researchers have used modern technologies to illuminate the ancient ones, and they've found that Mesopotamians adopted one of their most efficient engraving methods some 1,500 years later than thought.

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