Sun cross

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Sun cross
Sun cross, Efezus

A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross, a cross inside a circle, is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. The actual significance of these symbols in the prehistoric period is not known,[citation needed] but from their ubiquity and apparent importance the symbols have been adopted in various schools of Neopaganism, esotericism and occultism. Particularly in the concept of the Wheel of the Year season-calendar.

Currently, the same symbol is recognized in astronomy as a representation of the Earth, but not the Sun, which is recognized by a "point-in-circle" symbol.[1][2]

Bronze Age Europe[edit]

Wheel pendants dating to the second half of the 2nd millennium BC, found in Zürich, are held at the Swiss National Museum. Variants include a six-spoked wheel, a central empty circle, and a second circle with twelve spokes surrounding one of four spokes.
Ornamental pins, found in Switzerland, date to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC; their circular heads are incised with crosses.

In the prehistoric religion of Bronze Age Europe, crosses in circles appear frequently on artifacts identified as cult items, for example the "miniature standard" with an amber inlay that shows a cross shape when held against the light, dating to the Nordic Bronze Age, held at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen.[3] The Bronze Age symbol has also been connected with the spoked chariot wheel, which at the time was four-spoked (compare the Linear B ideogram 243 "wheel" 𐃏). This technological innovation, perhaps invented by the late Proto-Indo-Europeans,[citation needed] reached Europe in the mid-2nd millennium BC. In the context of a culture that celebrated the Sun chariot, it may also have had a "solar" connotation. This symbol appears also on the Snoldelev stone.[4]

Iron Age and classical antiquity[edit]

Further information: Wheel-god

The wheel appears as a solar motif in Celtic mythology, presumably associated with Taranis,[clarification needed] e.g. on the Gundestrup cauldron, and at an altar to the sun god at Lypiatt, Gloucestershire.[citation needed]

Contemporary symbolism[edit]

In astronomy, the same symbol is used to represent the Earth, rather than the Sun. It is used and recognized officially by various professional scientific organizations, such as NASA, [5] and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO).[6]

It can be depicted in Unicode as U+2295 (⊕ globe with equator and a meridian).[7]

The symbol has been used by various far-right groups, including the Norwegian Nasjonal Samling, the Bulgarian Ratniks and the US Knights Party.

Other "cross in a circle" symbols[edit]

  • A comparable symbol from ancient Mesoamerica is known as the "pecked cross" (two concentric circles centered on orthogonal axes). It is mostly interpreted in terms of archaeoastronomy and the Mesoamerican calendar.[8]
  • In astrology, the cross in a circle represents the planet Earth, formerly believed to be the center of the cosmos in Classical times.
  • Exclusive or
  • Direct sum
  • Celtic cross


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ entry at the Nebra sky disk exhibition site (
  4. ^ Snoldevel stone's photograph depicted in
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Anthony F. Aveni, Horst Hartung, Beth Buckingham, 'The Pecked Cross Symbol in Ancient Mesoamerica', Science 20 October 1978: Vol. 202 no. 4365 pp. 267-286 DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4365.267

External links[edit]