I think it is too early to draw any firm conclusions on the Flower of Life symbol. Dating of the symbol is as hard as usual when trying to trace ancient inventions. We can often talk only in a precision of thousands of years, rather than hundreds, even if we speak of relatively new history. But it is clear that history of the FOL goes further than many expect. It makes sense that six-petal rosette came first before the FOL preceding rhombus, triangle, hexagon and zig-zag patterns. Oblique slopes resembling 60 degrees' angle goes to the Neolithic periods and beyond.
How long did it take for six-petal rosettes to develop to the continuous FOL pattern? That is one of many questions that are still open. We do need classifications to distinguish the development of the symbol from simple parts to the complex form if we want to answer to these questions. Different types of the FOL symbol/pattern are visible on pictures presented in this essay but not a lot of time is not used to specify them distinctively. This task belongs to the future work on the subject.
Another question is the development of the drafting compass, the divider, and the caliper. These tools provided the required accuracy to construct the FOL pattern. Quite often it is believed that Egyptians didn't possess the compass, that they were mere rope stretchers1. In contrast to this, we can see one of the oldest object in the current survey coming from Egypt indeed! Anyone can make their own conclusions if those Egyptian cosmetic box lid carvings were made with the help of a string or a more accurate fixed / adjustable compass that had sharp and durable endpoints. Museum object descriptions favor the compass. However, following this lead to get more information about the FOL is kind of a dead end because based on the found artefacts the history of the compass based on artifacts can be traced to around 600 BC only. This is the earliest caliper which is found from Giglio shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany according to Roger Ulrich2.
Are we thus forced to follow a more intuitive path and face the old Greek myth of Perdix3, who was assumed to have invented a pair of compasses and a saw? A legend tells (see Ovid's dactylic hexameter poem Metamorphoses 84) that a zig-zag figured saw was made from the spine of a fish:
He (Perdix) took the jagged backbone of a fish, and with it as a model made a saw, with sharp teeth fashioned from a strip of iron. And he was first to make two arms of iron, smooth hinged upon the center, so that one would make a pivot while the other, turned, described a circle.
Interestingly, tessellation figure (the saw) and circle drawing tool (the compass) are combined on the same story. Perdix, who was saved by getting wings, witnessed the fall of the Icarus, who lost his wings. Let's take the advice from the instructive legend and be moderate with further conclusions at this point.
As it is with dating, it is with locating. Where did a sophisticated sense of geometric forms develop to such a degree that drawing the FOL became an ability of a human to be drawn? We shouldn't forget that designs of Samarra dishes5 are amazingly refined while they go as far as 7500 years back in the history.
What was the meaning of the FOL then? It is unlikely that the name and the meaning were carried out from millennium to millennium and unchanged through different cultures. Sometimes the symbol was probably used as an interesting decoration and ornament, pleasing and exciting on the eye of an artisan, maybe without any specific profound meaning and name. Sometimes it appears clearly in a religious context. Later, when I'm struggling more with the mathematical and geometrical properties of the FOL as well as doing comparative mythological and etymological studies, I will present possible meanings and names attached to the symbol.