The Megiddo Mosaic, at what is now considered the earliest Christian prayer hall, features one of the earliest symbols of Christianity, and it’s not a cross. No crucifixes are present here on the tile of a 3rd-century floor, but rather, two fish swimming in opposite directions with Greek inscriptions.
As you can easily see, these tiled fishes are the same in appearance as the zodiac sign Pisces, a symbol often associated with reincarnation and the astrological precession of the equinoxes. However, archaeologists at Megiddo say this was “a very early Christian symbol.”
You can see that Roman relief carvings of Pisces look virtually identical. But the symbol is ancient. It’s one of the earliest zodiac signs on record, which we’ll look at later.
Video by Dome of Doc:
The Megiddo Mosaic Is at a Prison in ‘Armageddon’
In the news, people are talking about the Megiddo Mosaic for other reasons:
- The location is Megiddo, better recognized by its Greek name, the much-prophesized Armageddon.
- It was found while expanding the infamous Megiddo prison known for holding Palestinians, which some call the “world’s most dangerous prison.”
- The Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. wants to uproot and relocate the mosaic floor on loan, while many researchers and archaeologists want to keep it in place to study it and perhaps create a tourism draw.
- Inscriptions mention a Roman centurion, a female benefactor, and three women, showing they were part of the early Christian community before it was an officially recognized religion.
In summary, the Holy Land’s oldest church (almost 1,800 years old) at Armageddon is being unearthed, in part by prisoners, while Christian evangelicals are trying to relocate it to the States.
Via Art News:
“In the past six years, [the Museum of the Bible] has repatriated 5,000 disputed biblical objects to Egypt and a 1,000-year-old looted Gospel to Greece amid controversy. Several Dead Sea Scroll fragments in its collection were also deemed forgeries. Additionally, U.S. authorities returned thousands of looted artifacts from Green’s collection to Iraq.”
Hobby Lobby president and evangelical Christian Steve Green founded the Museum of the Bible.
Video by AP Archive about the Megiddo Mosaic:
The Ichthys, Pisces Symbols and Early Christianity
While the bizarre politics of the Megiddo Mosaic makes headlines, let’s look closer at that symbol of two fishes.
Today, the abstract single fish symbol, the Greek Ichthys, of “Jesus Fish” is seen everywhere but rarely associated with the also commonly seen zodiac sign. After all, Pisces, the last astrological sign, represents spiritual rebirth and reincarnation.
The two fish swimming in opposite directions symbolize duality, the positive and negative polarity of the material world through constant life-giving waves, some say spiritually related to passages in the book of Ezekiel. Forever submerged in nurturing waters and connected with the higher source, the fish represents experiencing a state of divine bliss.
“We’re born happy because every soul is by nature like a fish in water, says Rabbi Simon Jacobson. Because joy is the inherent state of our internal superconsciousness, which is like water.”
See the Video on the esoteric concepts of Pisces by Rabbi Simon Jacobs:
Conservative Evangelicals and the Zodiac?
Generally, conservative and evangelical religion tends to shun talk about astrology, zodiacs, or associated horoscopes derived from ancient beliefs or constellations. And, they also would not consider reincarnation a part of orthodox religion, although the concept is found in the earliest gnostic Christianity.
As noted, the Megiddo Mosaic bears Greek inscriptions. In Greek myth, the Ichthyes, two large fish, either rescued or took the form of Aphrodite and Eros, depending on the telling, to escape the monster Typhoeus. In Rome, the story was about Venus and Cupid joining themselves with a rope and transforming into two fish to escape Typhon.
A Roman Centurion and Women
By the 2nd century, some believe the Ichthys fish was drawn as a secret sign or “shibboleth” to avoid Roman persecution. However, there has been debate about whether this was actually the case. Regardless, a Roman soldier and a woman funded the prayer hall in the 3rd century.
“Archaeologists are puzzled that a Roman centurion was the benefactor, seeing this as uniquely bold for a representative of an Empire that until the Edit of Milan in 313 CE did not view Christianity as a licit religion,” wrote The University of Chicago Divinity School.
Greek inscriptions on the mosaic name Roman army officer Gaianus, who donated to build the floor and a woman, Ekoptos, who donated a table to “the God Jesus Christ in commemoration.”
The table may reference the Eucharist or the Last Supper; thus, the fish would relate to “loaves and fishes.” But in the context of Pisces, the fishes could take on a metaphoric quality instead of relating to literally dividing physical food: spiritual sustenance.
Another inscription says the building was dedicated to “the memory of the Lord Jesus Christ.” According to the Divinity School’s Laurie Brink, three other noteworthy women are mentioned in the inscriptions.
Finally, it’s fascinating that the symbol of two fishes in opposing directions is incredibly old. A symbol of two fishes dates to c. 2,300 BC. It was painted on an Egyptian coffin lid with two fish connected by a cord at the mouth.
But perhaps the oldest example could be from a prehistoric petroglyph in India, possibly dating to 10,000 BC. Symbols discovered recently in western Maharashtra are similar to those found worldwide, like one closely resembling the Egyptian scarab or “master of the animals” symbol seen across the world. And one of them is two fishes.
Video by BBC News about the petroglyphs.
Fishes Connected with a Common Cord
Below, you can see the two fishes on the bottom left, curiously connected with a bar. As we saw, Pisces fishes are often connected.
For another example, France’s Chartres Cathedral features Pisces in stained glass, connected with a cord. That connection between fishes references the stars of the Pisces constellation, which join two fish with a connecting cord of stars as derived from ancient Babylonia. In ancient Syrian culture, the fish were seen as the protectors of the gods.
Unfortunately, the original meaning of the cord is unclear. But, a star along the Pisces constellation called Alpha Piscium translates to “the cord” in Arabic. On an intuitive level, perhaps it represents the silver cord between the body and soul, the connection between the mortal body and the higher realm. Such concepts of a soul are present in ancient Egypt.
In a modern context, quantum entanglement comes to mind.
In the image below, you can see the higher fish appears lighter. Likewise, the higher fish in the Megiddo Mosaic appears golden.
Remembering Ancient Connections Instead of Armageddon
The symbolism seen in the Holy Land’s earliest church seems to have a connection, a cord, with many other ancient stories about Pisces and fishes. The “logo” for this website is another example of the ancient symbolism of fishes, in this case from ancient Egypt.
Instead of severing the cord and self-fulfilling prophecies of Armageddon, the world could instead see these fishes as a critical reminder we are all connected, swimming the same cosmic waters. Our branched belief systems appear irreconcilably different on the surface. But if you go deep enough, they flow from a common nurturing ocean.