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Before two and a half hours ago, I thought the swastika was only in India and World War II. Then my art teacher put on a video about ancient Greek and Roman mosaics. In this video, I saw what was dubbed "Ancient Greek Swastica." I thought this an error and did a little research (I later found the link above). In no way is it only in India and World War II.

The Wikipedia article on it lists over a score of cultures with their own swastika with their own name to that culture. Among them are: Greek, Roman, Egypt, Native American, Japan, China, Celts, Aztec...

How do they all have their own version of a swastika relatively meaning a variance of the same thing in each?

I don't see how cross cultural contamination could have happened on this large of a scale. We know the Greeks/Romans knew of the Celts and Egyptians. Japan modeled their language on China's. The Romans traded with China. I can't be sure the Native Americans had contact with the Aztecs, but it is a possibility. And if this is a cross cultural contamination, where did it start?

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    Perhaps it is similar to pyramids being independently discovered: simply the most effective way for primitive civilizations to achieve some goal. However, it seems unclear what the 'goal' of the swastika symbol would be. – Discrete lizard Apr 5 '18 at 18:17
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    This gets pretty deep, and there is some serious research into symbols. High-level, without references, my understanding is that it's a basic configuration to connote cyclic model, which can reference things like eternality. Compare to a spiral, which winds toward a center, as opposed to a pinwheel, turning on a center. – DukeZhou Feb 14 '19 at 22:49
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    It is a simple geometric shape, easy to carve and to draw (the symbol itself as well as its negative space), and easy to repeat to allow for intricate patterns. Moreover, the swastika comes in many different styles. – Joachim Feb 20 '19 at 0:12
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    One of the earliest cultures that are known to have used the Swastika was a Neolithic culture in Southern Europe, in the area that is now Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as the Vinca Culture, which dates back around 8,000 years.The earliest swastika ever found was uncovered in Mezine, Ukraine, carved on an ivory figurine which dates back 12,000 years. I do not have time for an answer but hope this is useful – Tom Feb 23 '19 at 8:33
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The swastika is one of the oldest symbols in Rock Art and its many derivative forms date back tens of thousands of years. At one time virtually all cultures used it to signify either the four cardinal points North South East and West or the four seasons or both. As people migrate they take their signs and symbols with them so it is today found globally. Hitler adopted it because he associated it with Aryan peoples but it originated long before it appeared in Northern Europe.

  • Interesting. How did you arrive at this? – Andrew Johnson Apr 18 '19 at 21:13
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Too long for a comment :

I don't see how cross cultural contamination could have happened on this large of a scale.

It all started with Alexander the Great of Macedon conquering the former Persian Empire, which extended until the Indus river to the east.


The following encyclopedic articles should help shed enough light on the tremendous extent of the mutual influence between the two great ancient civilizations :

It would be pointless to include here the countless artifacts and historical figures, either religious or secular, associated with the aforementioned cultural syncretism. All in all, the presence of swastikas in ancient Greece actually makes perfect sense within the much larger historical context sketched above.

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