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Photo of Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn

Sol Invictus (Sun God)

Detail of the Roman Sonnengott und Tierkreiszeichen Mosaik (Sun God and Zodiac Mosaic), mid-3rd century AD. This magnificent floor mosaic shows the sun god (Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun") driving his chariot from east to west across the Firmament. Around him is a ring of zodiac signs, representing the cycle of the year. The containers and fish in the corners represent the water and the earth; together with the sky they embody the entire cosmos.

Around 270 AD, Emperor Aurelian raised the sun god (Sol Invictus, the "Unconquered Sun") to the highest state divinity. This mosaic dates from around the same time and was found in the center of the reception hall floor in a Roman villa in Münster-Sarmsheim. Of 278 mosaiced areas in the villa, this is the only one to use color and include figures.

Photo © Holly Hayes.

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