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Double-Headed Eagle

Ancient signs and symbols

Double-headed eagle in the culture of different nations


The double-headed eagle is one of the oldest symbols.  He was widely distributed in the Sumerian culture. One of the earliest images of the eagle was found during excavations of the Sumerian city of Lagash in Mesopotamia. Probably even more ancient a two-headed eagle was cut from smoky jade by the Olmec and its eyes please visitors at the best museum of Costa Rica.
Ancient Hittites also well knew the symbol. The character-attributes of their chief state god Tischuba (Teschuba), god of thunder, were a double ax (later entered  to Crete and assigned to Zeus) and a double-headed eagle.
Not far from the Turkish village Boguskoy, where once was the capital of the Hittite state, it was found the oldest two-headed eagle (13th century BC), carved in the rock.  The double-headed eagle with outstretched wings holds in paws two hares.  A modern interpretation of the image is a king stands out, looking around, defeats his enemies which hares portray, animals cowardly, but voracious.
A double-headed eagle is depicted on cylinder seals found in the excavations of the fortress Boguskoy. This symbol is also found on the walls of monumental buildings of other cities of the Hittite civilization. Hittites, like the Sumerians, used it for religious purposes.
The double-headed eagle (6th century BCE) was met in the Medes, east of the former Hittite.
The double-headed eagle was met in ancient Egypt and Assyrian monuments, where they are, according to experts, are to symbolize the connection with the Median kingdom of Assyria in the 6th and 7th centuries

The "Dictionary of international symbols and emblems" states "the Roman generals had the eagle on their Rods as a sign of supremacy over the Army". Later the Eagle "was turned into a purely imperial sign, symbol of supreme power."

In ancient Greece, the sun god Helios traveled across the sky in a chariot drawn by four horses.  It rare describes, not for the public, images of Helios in his chariot drawn by two-headed eagles. There were two eagles and four heads. Perhaps it was a sign of a more ancient, secret character.


Later, the double-headed eagle was used by Persian shahs of the Sassanian dynasty (1st century AD), and then by replaced them Arab rulers who put the logo even on their coins. Ottomans minted coins with Star of David on one side and a double-headed eagle on the other. It is also images of double-headed eagles on the Arab coins of Zengid and Ortokid from the 12th to the14th century.
In the Arab world two-headed eagle also become a popular element of oriental ornament. In the Middle Ages, this symbol appeared on the standard of the Seljuk Turks, who, moreover, adorned by it  stands of the Koran. The double-headed eagle was circulated in Persia as a symbol of victory, as well as in the Golden Horde.

A number of coins of the Golden Horde survived, minted during the reign of the Khans Uzbek and Djanibek, are with a double-headed eagle. Sometimes there are allegations that the double-headed eagle was the State Emblem of the Golden Horde. However, a coat of arms usually associates with a state seal, and to date has not kept any document (label) with the seal of the Jochi Ulus, therefore the most historians don't consider a double-headed eagle was an emblem of the Golden Horde.

There is evidence that the two-headed eagle was on the banners of the Huns (2nd-5th centuries). An Indo-European two-headed eagle first appeared in the Hurrians (3rd millennium BC, the center of civilization in the Caucasus), who honor it as a guardian of the Tree of Life.

It is believed that Europeans first learned of the two-headed eagle during the Crusades. This symbol is used as a first coat of many Templars who went to the conquest of the Holy Sepulcher in the Holy Land, and is likely to have been borrowed by them in their travels through the territory of modern Turkey.  Since then, the two-headed eagle is frequently used in European heraldry. In Byzantium and the Balkan countries, it was often decorative. Double eagles were depicted on fabric, ritual vessels, walls of religious buildings, as well as on the seals of territorial principalities and imperial cities.

Since the end of the 14th century, a gold double-headed eagle on a red field increasingly appeared on various state regalia of Byzantium. In the 15th century, under the Emperor Sigismund, or shortly before it, the double-headed eagle was adopted as the state emblem of the Holy Roman (German) Empire. It was portrayed in the black gold shield with golden beaks and claws of an eagle were surrounded by halos.
The double-headed eagle was depicted in the past on the coat of arms of Austria, German Union, Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as on the arms of shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Shah.
It was also present on the coins of medieval Bulgaria.

On the chest of eagle, since Peter I, it was placed the ancient emblem of Moscow. It portray the Rider of Heaven who embodied the image of the Holy Great Martyr, George the Victorious, spearing a serpent, symbolizing the eternal struggle between Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. In the paws Eagle firmly holds the scepter and orb, the immutable symbols of power, great power, unity and integrity of the state.

Currently, a two-headed eagle is depicted on the coat of arms of Albania, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro.


Read more about appearance of the double-headed eagle in Russia

Double-headed eagle - the ancient symbol of the sun


Most researchers of this symbol believe the eagle is associated with the sun. The logic here is that the eagle is the king of birds and the sun the is the king of all the planets.  The eagle flies above all, and is closest to the sun. The eagle is a symbol with multiple meanings. The eagle always personifies power and nobility, reminding to a man of his exalted origin and divine nature. Large outstretched wings are a symbol of protection, sharp claws are a symbol of uncompromising struggle against evil, and white head symbolizes just power. In addition, the eagle is always associated with strength, courage, morality and wisdom.
An eagle with antiquity was known as the royal symbol. It symbolizes rule. It is a sign of kings of the earth and heaven. (Eagle - Envoy of Jupiter).  Zeus turns to an eagle to abduct Ganymede.
The double-headed eagle represents the possibility of amplification of power, its extension to the west and east. Allegorically an ancient image of a two-headed bird could represent an unsleeping guardian who sees everything in the east and the west.
The eagle has always been a sun symbol and is an attribute of sun gods in many cultures. It was considered as a sacred emblem of Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, Mithra, Ninurta (Ningirsu) and Ashur (Assyrian god of storms, lightning and fertility). The double-headed eagle symbolized Nergal (Mars), the deity personifying the sizzling heat of the midday sun, and also represents the god of the underworld.
The eagle was also considered to be a messenger of the gods, which connected the earth and celestial sphere. In Mesoamerica, the eagle is also considered as a symbol of light and space of the heavenly spirit. In Christianity, the eagle is the embodiment of divine love, justice, courage, spirit, faith, as well as the symbol of resurrection. As in other traditions, the eagle played a messenger of heaven.

See the two-headed eagle in the Church of the Holy Tomb (Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem


The section"Ancient Signs and Symbols"/Caduceus

 
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