On the Imperial Hittite Double Eagle And Its Indo-European Symbolism

[Author’s Note: This piece was written in July 2018; we had omitted to post it here at that time.]

Whether through the exploits of a certain fictional “Imperium”, or simply due to an acquaintance with the flags and ensign of the Byzantines, Holy Roman Empire, modern Russia … or Albania … many of us have come into contact with the Double-Headed Eagle as an emblem of Empire.

What many do not know, however, is that the symbol’s later uses are themselves derivative of a far older and inexorably Indo-European employment – by the Hittites.

This fine example pictured below, for instance, hailing from the Hittite settlement at Alaca Hoyuk, circa 3300 years ago.

Academics disagree about the potential meanings ascribed to the Double-Headed Eagle by the Hittites; with conjecture tending to focus upon the surrounding elements – the prey often depicted in its talons, and the regal figures it is often depicted supporting. The results of this analysis, while hardly conclusive, tend therefore to suggest not only the exercise of power upon the subjugated (for how else to construe a hare in the talons of the Raptor Imperialis) – but also a ‘personal’ connection with the figure of the Emperor who lies at the heart of almost any Imperial project.

Further symbolic associations which might be explored include the idea that as the Eagle in question has two heads – that it is capable of looking in both directions toward the Horizon. That is to say, that the area under its ensign’s potential dominion is ‘limitless’ in effective scope. And also the customary linkage of the Eagle with great eyesight to see just what, and everything, which is going on within its realm or demesne.

We might also, perhaps, connect it with other connotations – the Eagle of Apotheosis so beloved of Roman and Roman-esque artistry; or of Zeus in much the same manner.

In any case, whatever the precise details of its symbolic importance, the Double-Eagle remains an impressively majestic figure.

It is interesting, indeed, that we see it replicated so frequently here in the modern age…

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