The Academy seal goes back to G. W. Leibniz, the founder of the Society of Sciences of the Elector of Brandenburg. The seal designed by Leibniz depicted an eagle that – as a symbol of the aspiration to scientific knowledge – flies upwards towards the constellation Aquila (the eagle).
The emblem on the society’s seal was chosen by Leibniz as an allusion to a line by the Roman poet Ovid, namely Cognata ad sidera tendit (it [the eagle] aims for its related stars). The constellation Aquila was represented on the seal by five stars. The legend on the seal is: Sigillum Societatis Scientiarum Brandeburgicae.
Even before the society seal was produced in February 1701, the first graphic representation of the emblem appeared on a commemorative medal struck on the occasion of the Society of Sciences’ foundation on the 11th of July 1700. In Leibniz’ description of this commemorative medal, it is recorded ‘that, in the visual representation of the emblem on the medal, the seal of the society was chosen as the Brandenburg eagle, turning its flight toward the constellation named after it, which is represented by stars in which the constellation Aquila can be recognised’. The basic elements of the society seal designed by Leibniz (eagle, constellation Aquila and the emblem concept) have survived through almost 300 years of the history of the Berlin Academy of Sciences and were adopted in the official seal of the reconstituted Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.