October 27, 29 & 30, 2011
Double-headed eagles have been present in imagery for millennia. The two-headed eagle can be found in the archaeological remains of the Sumerian civilization and through the Hittite civilization, dating from a period that ranges from the 20th century BC to the 7th century BC. The Gandaberunda is another example of a myhthological two-headed bird, which is in common use in India
Cylindric seals discovered in Bogazkoy, an old Hittite capital in modern-day Turkey, represent clearly a two-headed eagle with spread wings. The aesthetics of this symmetrical position explains in part the birth of this religious figure: It originally dates from circa 3,800 BC, and was the Sumerian symbol for the god of Lagash, Ninurta son of Enlil. It can also be seen in the same region in three monumental settings: Circa 1,900 BC during the Hittite surge from north-central Anatolia down into Babylonia; in Alacahöyük around 1400 BC and in Yazilikaya before 1250 BC. Here the context looks slightly different and totally religious: The eagle returns to its ancient origins as a symbol of divine power. The two-headed eagle is seen less and less during the last Hittite period (from the 9th century BC to the 7th century BC) and totally disappears after the end of the empire.
The double-headed eagle was also in use by the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia in the 3rd to 9th centuries.