PREHISTORIC CAVE ART REVEALS ANCIENT
USE OF COMPLEX ASTRONOMY
By the University of Edinburgh
Some of the world’s oldest cave paintings have revealed how ancient people had relatively advanced knowledge of astronomy.
The artworks, at sites across Europe, are not simply depictions of wild animals, as was previously thought. Instead, the animal symbols represent star constellations in the night sky, and are used to represent dates and mark events such as comet strikes, analysis suggests.
They reveal that, perhaps as far back as 40,000 years ago, humans kept track of time using knowledge of how the position of the stars slowly changes over thousands of years.
The findings suggest that ancient people understood an effect caused by the gradual shift of Earth’s rotational axis. Discovery of this phenomenon, called precession of the equinoxes, was previously credited to the ancient Greeks.
Around the time that Neanderthals became extinct, and perhaps before mankind settled in Western Europe, people could define dates to within 250 years, the study shows.
The findings indicate that the astronomical insights of ancient people were far greater than previously believed. Their knowledge may have aided navigation of the open seas, with implications for our understanding of prehistoric human migration.
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Kent studied details of Palaeolithic and Neolithic art featuring animal symbols at sites in Turkey, Spain, France and Germany.
They found all the sites used the same method of date-keeping based on sophisticated astronomy, even though the art was separated in time by tens of thousands of years.
Researchers clarified earlier findings from a study of stone carvings at one of these sites—Gobekli Tepe in modern-day Turkey—which is interpreted as a memorial to a devastating comet strike around 11,000 BC. This strike was thought to have initiated a mini ice-age known as the Younger Dryas period.
The Lascaux Cave
They also decoded what is probably the best known ancient artwork—the Lascaux Shaft Scene in France. The work, which features a dying man and several animals, may commemorate another comet strike around 15,200 BC, researchers suggest.
The team confirmed their findings by comparing the age of many examples of cave art—known from chemically dating the paints used—with the positions of stars in ancient times as predicted by sophisticated software.
The world’s oldest sculpture, the Lion-Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel Cave, from 38,000 BC, was also found to conform to this ancient time-keeping system.
This study was published in Athens Journal of History.
Dr. Martin Sweatman, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, who led the study, said: “Early cave art shows that people had advanced knowledge of the night sky within the last ice age. Intellectually, they were hardly any different to us today.
“These findings support a theory of multiple comet impacts over the course of human development, and will probably revolutionize how prehistoric populations are seen.”
CAVE ART DECODING EUROPEAN PALAEOLITHIC ART: EXTREMELY ANCIENT KNOWLEDGE OF
PRECESSION OF THE EQUINOXES
by Martin B. Sweatman, Alistair Coombs (Submitted on 31 May 2018)
A consistent interpretation is provided for Neolithic Gobekli Tepe and Catalhoyuk as well as European Palaeolithic cave art. It appears they all display the same method for recording dates based on precession of the equinoxes, with animal symbols representing an ancient zodiac. The same constellations are used today in the West, although some of the zodiacal symbols are different. In particular, the Shaft Scene at Lascaux is found to have a similar meaning to the Vulture Stone at Gobekli Tepe. Both can be viewed as memorials of catastrophic encounters with the Taurid meteor stream, consistent with Clube and Napier’s theory of coherent catastrophism. The date of the likely comet strike recorded at Lascaux is 15,150 BC to within 200 years, corresponding closely to the onset of a climate event recorded in a Greenland ice core. A survey of radiocarbon dates from Chauvet and other Palaeolithic caves is consistent with this zodiacal interpretation, with a very high level of statistical significance. Finally, the Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel, circa 38,000 BC, is also consistent with this interpretation, indicating this knowledge is extremely ancient and was widespread.
This is essentially what “When the Dragon Wore the Crown” is all about. Published six years ago in 2013, and having been worked on as a thesis for over thirty years, our work follows the precession of the equinoxes back over thousands of years and around the globe. Originally credited to Hipparchus in his star catalog of 129 BC, our treatise proposed that the myths of these ancient cultures were (in part) watching the skies, and were in particular observing the precession of the equinoxes and its moving center. The book begins in about 5,000 to 6,000 BC as the Vernal Equinox was precessing through the constellation Gemini and then works its way down through to the time of the Greeks with Hipparchus. Legends of the constellation Heracles may even take us back to the 8th and 9th millennium BC withomicron and theta Herculii.
The work of Dr. Sweatman leap frogs the observations found in the book of the Dragon. He is using radiocarbon dating that reaches back to 15,500 and 40,000 thousand years ago, but each of these works build from the same baseline, the same common denominator, the precession of the equinoxes. One uses myth while the other uses more contemporary scientific methods with radiocarbon dating. Before the last Ice Age, humanity was observing sophisticated astronomical motion.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of When the Dragon Wore the Crown through Amazon (or your favorite local bookstore) and take a step back into time. It opens our awareness to the roots of modern astronomy.