Radiant crown

For the papal encyclical, see Fulgens corona.
Coin of the Roman emperor Probus, circa 280: both Probus and Sol Invictus driving his chariot wear a radiant solar crown

A radiant or radiate crown, also known as a solar crown or sun crown, is a crown, wreath, diadem, or other headgear symbolizing the sun or more generally powers associated with the sun. It typically takes the form of either a horned disc to represent the sun, or a curved band of points to represent rays.

In the iconography of ancient Egypt, the solar crown is taken as a disc framed by the horns of a ram[1][2] or cow. It is worn by deities such as Horus in his solar or hawk-headed form,[3] Hathor, and Isis. It may also be worn by pharaohs.[4]

In Ptolemaic Egypt, the solar crown could also be a radiate diadem, modeled after the type worn by Alexander the Great (as identified with the sun god Helios) in art from the mid-2nd century BC onward.[5] It was perhaps influenced by contact with the Shunga Empire,[6] and a Greco-Bactrian example is depicted at the great stupa of Bharhut.[7] The first ruler of Egypt to wear this version of a solar crown was Ptolemy III Euergetes (246–222 BC)[8]

In the Roman Empire, the solar crown was worn by Roman emperors in association with the cult of Sol Invictus,[9] influenced also by radiant depictions of Alexander.[10] The solar crown worn by Constantine, the first emperor to convert to Christianity, was reinterpreted as representing the "Holy Nails".[11]

Isis crowned by the sun-disk and cow horns and nursing Horus (680–640 BC)

See also


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  • Bardill, Jonathan (2012), Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, Cambridge University Press 
  • Cooney, Kathlyn M. (2012), "Apprenticeship and Figures Ostraca from the Ancient Egyptian Village of Deir el-Medina", Archaeology and Apprenticeship: Body Knowledge, Identity, and Communities of Practice, University of Arizona Press 
  • Lavan, Luke (2011), "Political Talimans? Residual 'Pagan' Statues in Late Antique Public Space", The Archaeology of Late Antique 'Paganism', Brill 
  • Stewart, Andrew (1993), Faces of Power: Alexander's Image and Hellenistic Politics, University of California Press 
  • Teissier, Beatrice (1996), Egyptian Iconography on Syro-Palestinian Cylinder Seals of the Middle Bronze Age, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis Series Archaeologia, 11, Fribourg Switzerland: University Press 
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