Flag History: Ancient to Present Day

Pennsylvania Flag
Pennsylvania Flag

You see flags everywhere from federal buildings to clubs and organizations. Flags are used to commemorate special celebrations and events. They are also flown at half-mast to honor the dead, and draped over the coffins of national heroes. Most people know the current meanings of flags, but do we know flag history?

People have been using flags for more than 4,000 years. Ancient flags were called vexilloids, meaning guide, made of metal or wooden poles featuring a unique carving at the top of the pole. The first known metal flag is made of metal from Iran dating back to 3000 BC. Evidence of flags has also been found on ancient Greek coins and Egyptian tomb carvings. As time went on, approximately 2,000 years ago, pieces of fabric were added to vexilloids for decoration creating similarity to flags of today.


Now, we fast-forward to the middle ages of knights, kings, and queens. Long ago during the Middle Ages, flags were used as a means to give others information, such as who they are. During the middle ages, knights carried flags for identification purposes, because it was difficult to discern whom the knights were when they were covered in armor for battle. Flags were of great importance during this time because they helped soldiers discern friends from enemies in battle.

Today flags are used to convey information, signals or stand for special symbols or things. Many organizations including the Girl Scouts and the United Nations have flags. Clubs and organizations also have their own flags. For example, the five circles of the Olympic flag represent to joining of people from five continents in friendly competition. The United Nations flag displays an image of olive branches cradling the world conveying a message of peace. Notorious people such as royalty have their own personal flag to fly over any building they are staying.

Canada Flag
Canada Flag

It really is quite interesting how flags have evolved over the last 4,000+ years and it is time to celebrate current flags. There are flags for everything from holidays, armed forces, international, and much more. Find your favorite flag!

2 thoughts on “Flag History: Ancient to Present Day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s