Neo-Babylonian Sagittarius Cylinder Seal, Mesopotamia, 7th Century BC
Made of agate showing a centaur (possibly Pabilsag) with a bow and arrow attacking a winged-lion (possibly a gryphon) demon. In the field is a star, a crescent, a fish (below the centaur), and scattered globes. The borders have a scroll pattern with drillings.
The Babylonian god Pabilsag was the precursor to our Sagittarius, the Archer. The image of the horse-centaur can only be traced back to the middle of the 2nd millennium (Kassite period in Mesopotamia) however the figure is undoubtedly older since the constellation name appears in the star-lists of the preceding Old Babylonians. The Old Babylonian period Pabilsag was identified with the god Ninurta. Little else is known about him exept like Ninurta, he was a son of Enlil. The earliest evidence of his worship can be dated to the 3rd millennium BC. He was the patron deity of the ancient city of Larak, which has not been located yet, but is possibly in the vicinity of Isin (modern Ishan al-Bahriyat, Iraq).
The familiar image of the Greek constellation as a horse-centaur armed with a bow and arrow is actually a simplified version of the Babylonian figure, which has been portrayed in several forms and combinations. Sometimes it has a set of wings, a scorpion’s tail and the head of a dog. Babylonian mythology says that Pabilsag’s family were represented in the constellations as well. His wife, the healing goddess Ninisina or Gula has the dog as her divine symbol, which may explain why some images of Pabilsag have a dog’s head coming out of his shoulders. Other depictions omit the wings or dog’s head and replace its back legs with those of a bird, while some images look more like the Greek version of a centaur.
Read more about Pabilsag here…