Known also as the 'Macedonian sunburst', this 16-rayed star was the symbol of Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great and of the ancient Macedonian Empire. It appeared on coins, vases, in jewellery and mosaics in all the different regions of the Greek world. Four rays represent the four elements (earth, water, fire, air) and the other twelve represent the 12 gods of Olympus.
The central star is surrounded by the meandros (or greek key) motif, which symbolised infinity and unity, also thought to represent the labyrinth or maze and the eternal quest for truth.
The ancient Greek shield - the aspis or hoplon - would originally have been made from wood covered in bronze. Measuring approximately 1m in diameter it would not only have protected the bearer, but formed part of the phalanx, the formidable military formation.
bronze shield with rays of Alexander
- Diameter of the shield: 14cm