The Star of Vergina (or Vergina Sun or Argead Star) is the name given to a symbol of a stylised star or sun with sixteen rays. The original was unearthed in 1977 during archaeological excavations in Vergina, in the northern Greek province of Macedonia, by Professor Manolis Andronikos, who described the symbol variously as a "star", a "starburst" or as a "sunburst".
When Andronikos discovered the star, it was on a golden larnax in the tombs of the kings of the ancient kingdom of Macedon, and he proposed that the larnax belonged to King Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. (Although, some have attributed it to Alexander the Great's half-brother, Philip III Arrhidaeus.) Another version of the Vergina Sun, with 12 rays, was found on the larnax of Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great. The larnax is now on display at the archaeological museum in Vergina, where it was found.
Currently, The Vergina Star (or Sun) is the intellectual property of Greece and a state emblem of the country under the World Intellectual Property Organization, as well in its different variations.
The significance of the Vergina Sun is unclear. Archaeologists do not agree whether the sun was a symbol of Macedon, an emblem of Philip's Argead dynasty, a religious symbol representing the Twelve Gods of Olympus, or simply a decorative design. Andronikos repeatedly interprets it as the "emblem of the Macedonian dynasty", though Eugene Borza has pointed out that it is widely used in ancient Macedonian art. John Paul Adams cites its long-established use as a decorative element in Greek art, as well as in the Middle East, Ancient Thrace and elsewhere, and concludes that it cannot definitively be said that it was either a "royal" or "national" Macedonian symbol. Sixteen and eight-pointed suns often appear in Macedonian and Hellenistic coins and shields of that period. However, there are also a number of depictions of Athenian hoplites bearing an identical sixteen-pointed symbol on their armor as early as the 6th century BC, as well as coin designs from island and mainland Greece bearing eight or sixteen-pointed sun symbols (Corfu, 5th century BC, Locris, 4th century BC). Before 1977 the symbol had been regarded as a simple ornament. After Andronikos' discovery the symbol began to be viewed as predominantly associated with Ancient Macedonians, despite its earlier ornamental use in Greek art.