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Whether ankle-winged, armour-legged, medusa-centred, tripteral or ibis-beaked, the triskelis wheels itself up and down the hills of history until the present day *1. Coins bearing this symbol were issued early, in the 7th century B.C. Enigma shadows its significance and symbolic references shifted as man's fertile imagination beckoned and brewed. An unwavering constant however persists, the three or perhaps four national symbols adopted by : ancient Lycia, possibly the Kingdom of Olba, definitely today's Sicily, and the Isle of Man. All chose the triskelis. Why?

The present exposé does not and cannot suggest absolute origins or reasons defining the triskelis but at- tempts to provide time-links between nations brandishing the symbol, a few or more regional samplings, and varying forms. We also hope to share a few ideas and ponderings with the reader concerning significances behind this elusive symbol.

It would be interesting to learn how the symbol was referred to by the Ancients and the meanings
invested thereto. Have they remained silent or would any visitor know ?


Possible triskelis symbol meanings :

strength / might

Citius, Altius, Fortius

part 1 - Mesopotamia and Asia Minor

Could the triskelis have sprinted forth from some indistinct, yet uncovered past ? There exists no proof although we hope through Nippur “The Holy”, archaeologists shall produce one pointing towards Sumer’s iconography. Since cuneiform times (3000 / 3500 B.C.) Sumer’s influence pursued oncoming successive powers including the Sassanians whom we find below .[ 65 ]

Sumerian thought emerged as the spiritual backbone guiding an expanding Mesopotamia. Religious beliefs of this primeval culture were not singly adopted by contemporaries but later modified to form a foundation for Babylonians and oncoming successors dominating the region. Predating written Assyrian and Babylonian, Sumer’s non-Semitic isolate language, dominated future literary works. Sumerians also founded case laws towards governing society. Parallels aligning Sumerian beliefs against Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions prompt serious study today. Researchers uncovered a Sumerian tablet written as late as the first century B.C. Delving back “the sand-glass” observes triskeles cut into Assyrian signets. (Assyrian empire : ca. 1363 – 609 B.C.).
Chronological dating of Persis coins and kings remains unclear due to varying interpretations. It seems the political importance awakening Persis takes definition within the 8th century B.C. Later, Cyrus the Great leads Persis as king in 559 B.C.

Foremost descriptions of Persis ascertain the region’s independence. The land remained free of Seleucids (approximately 290 B.C.) until Mithradates II regained control, attaching it to Parthia until Artaxerxes defeated him and established the Sassanide empire. This territory lies north of the Persian gulf in today’s Iran whence we glimpse a passing triskelis. Weather known or unknown the kings of Persis place a triskelis in evidence once we chance upon them through time’s latticed shadows.
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      Extending Sumerian and Babylonian culture, the Sassanians surprise us at Naqsh-I-Rajab. We meet a court dignitary donning a triskelis upon his mitre. The event is the investiture of Shapur I, Sassanian monarch, 239 to 270-272 B.C. This revealing image is made available here by courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago 3 ]. Observing this photograph closely, the mitre next to the triskelis offers a circular symbol, stemmed and pedestaled. This sphere also forms countermarks upon Achaemenid silver siglos [ 51 ]. Other sigloi bear the same withinside reverse incuse punch marks *18. Site part one shows a triskelis countermarking another Persian specie, circa 450-330. Naqsh-I Rajab, believed to be a sacred site, predates the Achaemenids.
(site part one : monetazione-Impero Persiano)
Spanning A.D. 224 to 633 the Sassanian dynasty emerged from the Persis capital (Istakhr or Stakhr). Both civilizations culturally depended upon Sumer, nevertheless Greek influences remain a sharp contester supporting the noted presence of this particular triskelis. Other theories exist pending precise identity of these “Court Dignitaries” (shown above, number 3) who may have been high priests, temple astronomers or even military elite. Their mitre symbols perhaps represented a sun, moon, or other astrological bodies. These alongside diverse geometric designs resemble Central Asian tamghas with which Sassanian elite were known to have adorned headwear and horse caparisons (See Soghdiana here). However long ahead, Sassanians, Babylonians and Assyrians designed triskelis seals, some on record with Chicago’s Oriental Institute .
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