Artifact of the Week

What is the story with this unusual symbol?

Why does it have three legs?



Answers:

What is the story with this unusual symbol?

This is an example of a triskelion, which comes from the Greek words for "three legs." There are many different kinds of triskelion, some of which are simple line drawings, and some, like this one, which depict three legs centering around a human face. The triskelion has been an important symbol in many world cultures since ancient times.

Why does it have three legs?

The short answer is that numbers have many meanings. Each time a culture constructs a symbol modeled on the triskelion, it usually means something new. But the basic design has remained the same for thousands of years, ready for someone new to adapt it. This particular triskelion has been used as a symbol of the Italian island of Sicily, which is itself triangular in shape. It is currently on display as part of our Around the World in 80 Days exhibit — come check it out!



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