Seal of Shamash

 Jesse Brauner
Seal of Shamash

An ancient solar symbol that dates back over 3000 years.

Shamash was a powerful solar deity widely worshipped in ancient Mesopotamia (a region roughly analogous to modern-day Iraq), and his symbol appears on numerous artifacts found in the region, including jewelry, cylinder seals and other objects. One famous example, dating to the 9th century BCE and known simply as the “Tablet of Shamash”, is currently housed in the British Museum.

The symbol itself can sometimes be found with minute variations in its aesthetics, but the imagery remains constant; a central solar disk with four sets of emanating rays and four compass-like points. One possible interpretation of this imagery is to show that the sun- and, by extent, Shamash himself- holds power over the four quarters of the world.