Imdugud which was represented on seals as an eagle with two lion-heads, was a characteristic symbol of the twin-god (Sun-god) in Mesopotamia, for the Sun-god had a double character. He radiates benevolent (in spring) and malevolent (in summer) light at the same time. The Mitannians in Syria adopted the Egyptian winged-disk and assimilated it into a concept of a sky symbol placed on top of the 'pillar supporting heaven'. The Hattians borrowed the eagle and represented it on seals in Anatolia. Assyrians modified the Egyptian winged-disk in replacing the wings and tail of the sparrow hawk with the wings and tail of the eagle. The winged disk was transferred from Mesopotamia to Persia in Achaemenid times and depicted on monuments and on cylindrical seals as a sky symbol. The winged disk with the eagle's wings and tail and the eagle itself were also a symbol and keeper of the Sun- or Sky-gate which was located in the mountain chain limiting the earth on its sides. The eagle was one of the oldest cosmological symbols in Eurasia.


Double headed sky eagle

A. Uzay Peker. Double-headed sky-eagle on the portal of the Erzurum Çifte Minareli Madrasa


Two-headed eagle (Ai,the Creator or Ai Toyon, the Creator of Light) was placed at the top of the Uralo-Altaic world tree. This practice seems to have a very long past preceding even the Mesopotamian beginnings. It is more constructive to interpret these old cosmological elements as the outcome of certain basic universal concepts existing in the cosmologies of sedentary and nomadic peoples of entire Asia. On the other hand there is a certain historical continuity in the Near Eastern art. The double or single-headed eagles in Seljukid art resemble their ancient Mesopotamian and Persian prototypes in respect to their style and application. The double-headed eagle can be found in Seljukid art as an abstracted figural element. The so-called arabesque decorations not only comprises the eagle as an abstracted figural element but the sacred tree as well. The Seljukid double-headed eagle is regarded as a heraldic symbol. This view still remains unsound. Likewise the Mesopotamian lion-headed eagle is treated as an emblem. It is related to the War- and Sun-god Ninurta whose cult under various local names was prominent in the cities represented by the lion-headed eagle. It did not belong to a single city, but to the cities where the Sun-god was the chief among the other gods. Its heavenly rather than earthly symbolism was more accentuated throughout the centuries. The Seljukid single- or double-headed eagle follows its prototype in this respect. There is not enough knowledge to justify the specific heraldic quality of the double-headed eagles which can be found in many places in Islamic arts. The double- or single-headed eagle was primarily a messenger and a symbol of the earthly power granted by god.