The hexagram is
based on the gestalt . The earliest examples of
found are dated back to around 800-600
B.C. If the structure had been designed by a process of random
experimentation with the basic graphic gestalt ,
the hexagram as graphically simpler than would have
been created long before it. Present archeological and historical
facts, however, indicate that first appeared at
least 3,000 years later than .
During antiquity was a symbol for the Jewish kingdom. When this kingdom was conquered in A.D. 70, and, in fact, already some 100 years before that, the Jewish people began to spread throughout the world, as did the symbol .
The hexagram is sometimes known as the shield of David or the Magen David. According to the late Danish semiotician S.T. Achen, the Muslims refer to as Solomon's seal, whereas E. Zehren points out that the sign on Solomon's seal was . The hexagram is frequently used in the magic formulas in the old book of witchcraft, The Key of Solomon.
The alchemists of the Middle Ages used first and foremost as a general symbol representing the art of alchemy and secondly as a sign for combinations of , water and , fire. Combined these two triangles formed the symbol for fire water, the essence or spiritus of wine: alcohol. It was also used as a sign for quintessence, the fifth element. See the synonym in Group 50.
In some alchemical contexts, however, was used to mean drink! or swallow!
The Jews in Europe used during the Middle Ages on their banners and prayer shawls. When they were repressed by the Church and the princes, however, a pointed hat, and later a yellow ring, were used to identify them as Jews, thus facilitating their segregation, not .
The hexagram became more popular during the nineteenth century and was used to decorate newly built synagogues. The founders of the Zionist movement adopted the hexagram as a rallying symbol in their attempts to create a Jewish national state in Palestine.
On November 9, 1938, at the orders of Heydrich, the hexagram combined with the colour yellow, earlier used to symbolize the Jews, and on ships' flags to symbolize that there was plague aboard, was introduced to mark all those of Jewish birth.
In blue appears on the flag of Israel since 1948.
It is interesting to note that also appeared in pre-Columbian America. In Uxmal, Central America, a plaited hexagram is found on a cliff engraving from around 1000 A.D. It has a "trailing" or "hanging" element, , under it, similar to structures used in the Phoenician cultural sphere around the Mediterranean during antiquity.
The hexagram, plaited and red, is used as a symbol for the Magen David Adom, a humanitarian organization similar to the Red Cross.
Like the sign is hardly used in modern ideography except as a sign for electrical motors with 3-phase or 6-phase winding in engineering. The "empty" hexagram, without crossing lines, or the filled version, , is never used in Western ideography except as a form for a policeman's badge in Iceland and in certain states in the US (the sheriff's star). As form of a policeman's badge is also common in the United States.