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Candy
2004-May-18, 01:51 PM
The oldest image of a star pattern, that of the famous constellation of Orion, has been recognised on an ivory tablet (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2679675.stm) some 32,500 years old.

Could this be true? 32,500 years old? Has this been discussed before?

gethen
2004-May-18, 02:08 PM
A figure of a man with outstretched arms must be the contellation Orion? What am I missing here? Maybe it's just supposed to be a guy dancing around a fire.

Kullat Nunu
2004-May-18, 02:51 PM
I think the dots (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/871930.stm) in a painting of a bull are more convincing.

eburacum45
2004-May-18, 04:13 PM
None of this stuff convices me;

why can't archeologists accept that they can never identify the patterns they find on stones and bones without some sort of oral or written evidence or even tradition.

It is all too long ago, and cultures have changed far too much in the intervening period.

Kullat Nunu
2004-May-18, 04:38 PM
None of this stuff convices me;

Nor me, but it sounds interesting still...


why can't archeologists accept that they can never identify the patterns they find on stones and bones without some sort of oral or written evidence or even tradition.

Culture is so important part of a human being that figuring out the life of prehistoric people would be inaccurate if we didn't have any idea of their thoughts. But as you wrote, that is not likely possible.


It is all too long ago, and cultures have changed far too much in the intervening period.

It wouldn't be surprising that the prehistoric people painted the stars they saw.

Besides, I'm sure that some of the classic constellations are from prehistoric era.

Master258
2004-May-18, 04:50 PM
Besides, I'm sure that some of the classic constellations are from prehistoric era.

So am I. There has to be.

elgarak
2004-May-18, 05:35 PM
Doesn't the relative position of stars change over the course of 30,000 years? Did Orion still looked the same back then? I seem to recall that the Belt of Orion definitely changed over this time period, and wouldn't be recognized as a line anymore.

Normandy6644
2004-May-18, 05:48 PM
Doesn't the relative position of stars change over the course of 30,000 years? Did Orion still looked the same back then? I seem to recall that the Belt of Orion definitely changed over this time period, and wouldn't be recognized as a line anymore.

I was thinking this too, but i can't remember how much it changes over time. They certainly do change, but it's a question of how long it takes to be noticeable.

braggec
2004-May-18, 05:49 PM
Doesn't the relative position of stars change over the course of 30,000 years? Did Orion still looked the same back then? I seem to recall that the Belt of Orion definitely changed over this time period, and wouldn't be recognized as a line anymore.
that was answered in the link.

The stars were in slightly different positions 32,000 years ago because they are moving across the sky at different speeds and in different directions, a phenomenon called "proper motion".
Dr Rappenglueck allowed for this effect by using a computer program to wind back the sky and found evidence for a particular star in Orion that was in a different place all those years ago.

The part that bothers me is this statement.

There are 86 notches on the tablet, a number that has two special meanings.
First, it is the number of days that must be subtracted from a year to equal the average number of days of a human gestation. This is no coincidence, says Dr Rappenglueck.
Does this seem like a stretch to anyone else? I donít see how this would even be helpful today. Ok you know your pregnant, how does a calendar with notches for how many days out of a year your not pregnant help?
I do however think that the second statement has more to do with the answer, if in fact the picture is a drawing of Orion.

It is also the number of days that one of Orion's two prominent stars, Betelguese, is visible. To ancient man, this might have linked human fertility with the gods in the sky.
Just take out the fertility part and you have a good calendar. Ok that star just became visible, start marking this and 86 marks later that star will be gone.

Kullat Nunu
2004-May-18, 05:59 PM
Doesn't the relative position of stars change over the course of 30,000 years? Did Orion still looked the same back then? I seem to recall that the Belt of Orion definitely changed over this time period, and wouldn't be recognized as a line anymore.

Actually no. Except for Bellatrix (gamma Orionis) all the bright Orion stars are distant supergiants. Check this Java applet (http://astro.estec.esa.nl/Hipparcos/apps/ShowMotion.html) (select RA=85 and Dec=0), and you see that the three bright stars of Orion's Belt haven't hardly moved during 30,000 years. Of course as they are so distant, Hipparchos didn't get their proper motions very precisely.

On the other hand, some constellations like the Big Dipper change their appearances greatly during 30,000 years.

elgarak
2004-May-18, 06:53 PM
Ah. That explains my confusion. It was a slight woo-woo TV show a few years back (about pyramids in the same position as Orion, blah blah), where they showed the changes in the Big Dipper and Orion. I just forgot about the Big Dipper. I need to play with competerized star charts more.

skrap1r0n
2004-May-18, 07:34 PM
well I googled Dr Michael Rappenglueck (comon, with a name like Rappenglueck, I have to have fun with it...) and found out some interesting stuff here (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/cave_paintings_000810.html).

I would be VERY interested to get my hands on that software and project, say a drawing from a kindergarden class and see what pops out the other end...

come on lets say it together... Rappenglueck!

Kaptain K
2004-May-19, 10:34 AM
One thing that bothered me was:

... bird on a stick...

Come on! :roll: Haven't these people ever seen a wading bird like any of several species of cranes? There is even a "break" near the bottom of the "stick" which could be interpreted as the surface of water, with the lower part of the stick being the reflection of the legs.