However, the discovery of what is now the earliest known inscription of the Sator square, on walls in the ruins of Pompeii, dates it to as far back as 79AD.
Finding the square in this place and time raises serious doubts on whether Christians first created the square.
Assuming AREPO to be a possible proper name, though, the most common reading of the square is ‘the farmer/gardener (SATOR) AREPO holds (TENET) and works (OPERA) wheels (ROTAS).
(The Gardener Arepo holds and works the wheels/plough) Many scholars continue to question the origin and meaning of this squared, circular phrase.
Some archaeological discoveries of the square revealed ROTAS began the sequence instead of SATOR. It is realized the outside squares of the grid, going either way, include ROTASATOROTASATO.
The odds for the Sator square to consist of this, unintentionally, are considered highly improbable, and therefore, believed to be meaningful.
The A’s and O’s (Greek Alpha and Omega/first and last), were thought to be inspired symbols from a passage in the Book of Revelation to represent Jesus.
Although Christians all across Europe are known to have later used the square, the possibility Pompeii held a strong Christian group, who would have created or etched the square there, is not likely, according to some scholars (sourced below).
The letters contained within the square hid an anagram of two PATER NOSTER’s in the form of a cross (sharing the N), and with two A’s and two O’s leftover.