The Double-Headed Eagle of Lagash is the oldest royal crest in the world. It was a symbol of power more than two thousand years before the building of King Solomon’s Temple. No other heraldic bearing, no other emblematic device of today, can cite such antiquity. It was in use a thousand years before the exodus from Egypt and has been a symbol for fifty years.
Marius, the Consul of Rome, in 102 B.C., ordained that the eagle should be the sole designation of the legions as their ensign. The single-headed eagle thereby became the emblem of the Imperial power of Rome every afterwards, and after the division of the Roman Empire into the East and West, the Emperors of the West used a black eagle, and those of the East, a golden one; since which period, Austria, Prussia, France and Poland, when these were individual nations, used the eagle as their royal emblem.
The double-headed eagle first originated in the mighty Sumerian city of Lagash. As time rolled on, it passed from the Sumerians to the men of Akkad; from them to the Hittites; from the denizens of Asia Minor to the Seljukian Sultans, from who it was brought by Crusaders to the Emperors of the East and West, whose successors in later days were the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs.
Thus, the eagle of the Eastern Empire, united with that of the West, typified the Holy Roman Empire when the ancient Byzantine city of Constantinople shared with the city of Rome the honor of being the capitol of that Empire.
Charlemagne was the first to make use of the emblem when he became head of the whole German Empire, by adding the second head in 802 A.D., thereby denoting the union of Rome and Germany.
The symbol of the double-headed eagle was first known to Freemasonry in 1758. when the establishment of a body calling itself Emperors of the East and West, whose successors today are the Supreme Councils of the Thirty-third Degree that have inherited the insignia of the Rite of Perfection, a rite of Twenty-five Degrees from which was evolved a large part of the present system of the Scottish Rite.