View Full Version : The First Astronomers?

2010-Jul-14, 05:08 PM
A very interesting interpretation of some of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. As they say in the article, not a proven idea, but it seems plausible to me.

From seedmagazine.com (http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/symbols_from_the_sky/)

Further analysis at the tail-end of the 20th century suggested that the cave art had deep links to prehistoric rituals promoting fertility and successful hunting. Recent studies have found a systematic sequencing in the renditions of horses, aurochs (an extinct ancestor of domestic cattle), and stags, corresponding to seasonal characteristics of each species representing spring, summer, and autumn respectively.


Soon after art historians accepted these seasonal and temporal connections within the cave art, archaeoastronomer Michael A. Rappenglück of The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies in Gilching, Germany, began addressing the possible astronomical significance of the cave imagery. He noticed a group of six spots painted above the back of one of the aurochs in a part of the cave known as the Hall of the Bulls. Charcoal freckles surround the creature’s eye, which Rappenglück thought could represent the eye of the Taurus constellation embedded in the Hyades cluster. Astronomical calculations of when the Hyades cluster would have been visible to Northern Hemisphere observers during the season depicted in the image match well with the date range given by carbon-14 dating of the charcoal traces.


Rewinding the stars’ movements backwards over seventeen thousand years shows that the Bull’s eye, Aldebaran, would have been embedded more deeply into the Hyades cluster, closely resembling the auroch face depicted on the wall of the Lascaux grotto. So it is possible that Taurus the Bull is an incarnation of an earlier auroch mythology, recorded on the walls of the caves in Southern France and Northern Spain.

2010-Jul-16, 12:48 AM
I think it's pretty cool, actually, that there were systematic star-watchers in the stone age. Did they find the first science-fiction painted on any cave walls? ;)