Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 85, Issue 0, pp 391–404 | Cite as

Palaeolithic Timekeepers Looking At The Golden Gate Of The Ecliptic; The Lunar Cycle And The Pleiades In The Cave Of La-TETe-Du-Lion (Ardéche, France) – 21,000 BP

  • Michael A. Rappenglück
Article

Abstract

Decades of research work done by several scientists all over the world since the beginning of the 20th century confirmed the idea, that Palaeolithic man looked up to the starry sky and recognized prominent patterns of stars as well as the course of the celestial bodies. Though sometimes highly speculative, the investigations made clear, that time-factored notations played an important role in the archaic cultures of Palaeolithic epochs (from 33,000 to 10,000 BP).

There are some distinct and detailed examples of lunar-, solar- and lunisolar-calendars sometimes combined with pictures of seasonality, mostly discovered on transportable bones and stones, but also on the fixed walls of certain caves. The investigations showed that in Palaeolithic epochs time-reckoning, in particular the lunar cycle, had been related to the pregnancy of women too (Figure 2a–d).

Recently I showed, that in the Magdalenian time (16,000–12,000 BP) man also recognized single and very complex star patterns, including the Milky Way: the Northern Crown in the cave of El Castillo (Spain), the Pleiades in the cave of Lascaux (France) and the main constellations of the sky at the same location.

They were used by the Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers for orientation in space and for time-reckoning. These star patterns also played an important role in the cosmovisions of archaic cultures. Together with the depictions of the course of the moon and the sun, they helped to organize the spatiotemporal structure of daily and spiritual life of Palaeolithic man.

Now I present a rock panel in the cave of La-Tete-du-Lion (France) that shows the combination of a star pattern – Aldebaran in the Bull and the Pleiades – with a drawing of the moons cycle above. This picture comes from the Solutrean epoch ca 21,000–22,000 BP. It shows not only a remarkable similarity with the representation in the Lascaux cave, but clearly connects the star pattern with a part of the lunar cycle.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Albani, M.: 1994, Astronomie und Schöpfungsglaube: Untersuchungen zum astronomischen Henochbuch (Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament; 68), Neukirchner Verlag, Vluyn.Google Scholar
  2. Allan, R. H.: 1963, Star Names. Their Lore and Meaning (formerly titled: Star-Names and their Meanings), Dover Publications, Inc., New York.Google Scholar
  3. Bataille, G.: 1986, Die vorgeschichtliche Malerei: Lascaux oder die Geburt der Kunst. Die großen Jahrhunderte der Malerei, Skira-Verlagsgemeinschaft Ernst Klett-J./G. Cotta'sche Buchhandlung Nachfolger, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  4. Bibikov, S. N.: 1981, Drevnejšij Muzykal'nyj Kompleks Iz Kostej Mamonta. Ocerk Mamercal' Noj c Duchovnoj Kul' Mury Paleolcmcceskogo Celoveka (The Oldest Musical Complex Made of Mammoth Bones). Meszinskaja Kul' tura, Chozjajstvennobytovoj Kompleks N1, Muzskal' nyj I Ornamental' noizobrazitel' nuj Kompleks, Muzyka I Tanec V Pozdem Paleolite Vostocnoj, Evropy; Akademija Nauk Ukrainskoj SSR, Institut Archeologii, Moskva: Izdatel' stvo “Naukova Dumka” (in Russian).Google Scholar
  5. Chamberlain, V. D.: 1983, ‘Navajo Constellations in Literature, Art, Artifact and a New Mexico Rock Art Site’, Archaeoastronomy VI(1–4), 48–58.Google Scholar
  6. Combier, J.: 1984, ‘Grotte de la Tête-du Lion’, in L'Art des Cavernes. Atlas des Grottes Ornées Paléolithique Françaises (Atlas Archéologiques de la France), Direction du Patrimonie, Ministère de la culture, Sous-direction de l'Archéologie, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris, pp. 595–599.Google Scholar
  7. Duhard, J.-P.: 1988, ‘Le Calendrier Obstétrical de la Femme à la Corne de Laussel', Bull. Soc. Hist. Archéol. Périgord 65, 23–39.Google Scholar
  8. Duhard, J.-P.: 1989, ‘Etude Morphologique de la Femme à la Corne en Bas-relief de Laussel', Bull. Soc. Hist. Archéol. Périgord 66, 257–275.Google Scholar
  9. Frolov, B. A.: 1965, ‘Primenenie sčeta v Paleolite I Vapros ob Istakah Metamatiki: Na Materialah Sibirskih Pamjatnikov Paleolitizeskogo Iskusstva’, Izvestija Sibirskogo Otdelenija Akademii Nauk SSSR', Serija obšestvennuh Nauk 9(3), 97–104 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  10. Frolov, B. A.: 1969, ‘Konstanty v Psihike Homo Sapiens’, Vaprosy Antropologii 32, 187–194 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  11. Frolov, B. A.: 1972, ‘“Magičeskaja” Semerka’, Priroda 5, 52–59 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  12. Frolov, B. A.: 1979, ‘Numbers in Palaeolithic Graphic Art and the Initial Stages in the Development of Mathematics (Part 4)’, Soviet Anthropol. Archaeol. 17(4), 16–113.Google Scholar
  13. Frolov, B. A.: 1979, ‘Les Bases Cognitives de l'Art Paléolithique’, in Emmanuel Anati (ed.), The Intellectual Expressions of Prehistoric Man. Art and Religion. Acts of the Valcamonica Symposium’ 79, Capo di Ponte (Brescia), Edizioni del Centro, Editoriale Jaca Books Spa, Milano.Google Scholar
  14. Frolov, B. A.: 1978/79, ‘Numbers in Palaeolithic Graphic Art and the Initial Stages in the Development of Mathematics (Part 3)’, Soviet Anthropol. Archaeol. 17(3), 41–74.Google Scholar
  15. Frolov, B. A.: 1988, ‘Pervobytnaja Grafika: Aktual'nye Problemy (The Origins of the Signs: Actual Problems)’, Gipotesy prognosy, Bugutsche Nauku 21, 254–271 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  16. Frolov, B. A.: 1992, Pervobytnaja Grafika Evropy, Nauka, Moskva (in Russian).Google Scholar
  17. Haile, Father B., Oakes, M., and Wyman, L.: 1957, Beautyway: A Navaho Ceremonial, Bollingen Series 53, Pantheon Books, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Hartner, W.: 1968, ‘Studien zur Symbolik der Frühchinesischen Bronzen’, in Oriens-Occidens. Ausgewählte Schriften zur Wissenschafts-und Kulturgeschichte. Festschrift zum 60, Geburtstag, Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, Hildesheim, pp. 194–207.Google Scholar
  19. Hartner, W.: 1968, ‘The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat’, Oriens-Occidens, 227–259.Google Scholar
  20. Hentze, C.: 1961, Das Haus als Weltort der Seele. Ein Beitrag zur Seelensymbolik in China, Großasien, Altamerika, Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart.Google Scholar
  21. Hofmann, H.: 1988, GU-Naturführer Säugetiere: Die wichtigen Arten Europas kennen lernen und bestimmen, Gräfe und Unzer, München.Google Scholar
  22. Kajsa, T.: 1982, Sol-och månkult samt astrala och celesta föreställningar bland samerna. Acta Bothniensia Occidantalis: Skrifter i västerbottnisk kulturhistoria 5 (Vo Lundmark Bæ'vi Mánno Nástit, Västerbottens läns hembygdsförening, Västerbottens museum Umeå), Bo Lundmark, Umeå.Google Scholar
  23. Kolev, D., Kaloyanov, A., and Koleva, V.: 1999, ‘Pleiades in the Bulgarian Folk Culture’, in Tomasz Mikocki (ed.), Actes de la V ème Conférence Annuelle de la SEAC, Gdansk, 1997, Département d'Anthropologie Historique, Institut d'Archéologie de l'Université de Varsovie Musée Maritime Central (Światowit Supplement Series H: Anthroplogy, vol. II), Warszawa Gdánsk, pp. 185–201.Google Scholar
  24. Kuegler, D.: 1990, Bisonjagd: Geschichte einer Beinahe-Ausrottung. Amerikanistik Bibliothek, Verlag für Amerikanistik, Wyk auf Föhr.Google Scholar
  25. Larichev, V. E.: 1998, VSE – V Odnom. Problemy Arheologii, Etnografii, Antropologii Sibiri i Sopredel'nyh Territorij TOM IV, Izdatel'stvo Instituta Arheologii i Ethnografii SO RAN, Novosibirsk.Google Scholar
  26. Larichev, V. E.: 1999a, Zarja Astrologii: Zodiak Trogloditov, Luna, Solnce i “bluždajuščie zvezdy”, Izdatel'stvo Instituta Arheologii I Etnografii SO RAN, Novosibirsk (in Russian).Google Scholar
  27. Larichev, V. E.: 1999b, ‘Kosmografičeskie Figury I Znakovye Tecsty Ignatievskoj Peščery: “Bol'šoj zal” (Kalendarno-astronomišeskie Cikly I PersonažI Astralnoj Mifologii v Iskysstve Paleolita Južnogo Yrala’, Gymanitarnye Nauki v Sibiri 3, 57–69 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  28. Larichev, V. E.: 1999c, VSË–VO VCËM (K Metodike Pročtenija Korotkih Znakovyh Zapisej na Predmetah Iskusstva Drenekamennogo Veka Sibiri), Problemy Arheologii, Etnografii, Antropologii Sibiri I Sopredel'nyh Territorij TOM V, Izdatel'stvo Instituta Arheologii I Ethnografii SO RAN, Novosibirsk, pp. 146–155.Google Scholar
  29. Larichev, V. E.: 2000a, Mirovozzrenie Žrečestva Maltinskoj Kultury k Probleme Istokov Pervobytnyh Kosmogonij I Kosmologij’, Bajkalskaja Sibir'v Drevnosti 2, 73–97.Google Scholar
  30. Larichev, V. E.: 2000b, ‘Otkrytie v Sibiri Pervoj Antropolomorfoj Skyl'ptury Drevnekamennogo Veka I Problema Interpretacii Tak Nazyvaemyh Ženckih Statuetok’, Istoričeskij Ežegodnik, Ministerstvo Obrazovanija RF Omskii Gosudarstvennyj Universitet, Izdanie Omgu, Omsk, pp. 120–133.Google Scholar
  31. Larichev, V. E.: 2000c, ‘Borloščenija Vremeni (K Probleme Informacionnyh Tradizij v Pervobytnom Isusstve. Istorija I Arheologija Dal'nego Vostoka, Izdatel'stvo Dal'nevostoznogo Universiteta, Vladivostok.Google Scholar
  32. Larichev, V. E.: 2000d, Astral'nye Bogi Drevnekamennogo Veka Sibili (Mal'tinskaja Kul'tura). Rerihovskie Čtenija, Siberskoe Rerihovskoe Obščestvo Sibirskoe Otdelenie Ran Institut Arheologii I Etnografii SO RAN, Novosibirsk.Google Scholar
  33. L'Art des Cavernes: 1984, Atlas des Grottes ornées Paléolithique Français (Atlas Archéologiques de la France), Direction du Patrimonie, Ministère de la Culture, Sous-direction de l'Archéologie, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris.Google Scholar
  34. Marshack, A.: 1972, The Roots of Civilization. The Cognitive Beginnings of Man's First Art, Symbol and Notation, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, Toronto, Mexico, Düsseldorf.Google Scholar
  35. Marshack, A.: 1973, ‘Analyse Préliminaire d'une Gravure à système de Notation de la Grotte du Taï (Drôme)’, Etudes Préhistoriques, Société Préhistorique de l'Ardèche 4, 13–16. L'Evolution et la transformation du décor du début de l'Aurignacien au Magdalénien Final, in L'Art des Objets au Paléolithique, Tome 2: Les Voies de la Recherche. Colloque International Foix – Le Mas-d'Azil, 16–21 Novembre 1987 sous la Direction de Jean Clottes, Année de l'Archéologie, Ministère de la Culture, de la Communication, des Grands Travaux et du Bicentenaire, Direction du Patrimoine, Sous-Direction de l'Archéologie, Direction des Musées de France, Musée des Antiquités Nationales. Avec les concours du Département de l'Ariège sous le Patronage de l'Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques, Picard, Paris, pp. 139–162.Google Scholar
  36. Marshack, A.: 1992, ‘The Taï Plaque and Calendrical Notation in the Upper Palaeolithic’, Cambridge Archaeol. J. 1, 25–61.Google Scholar
  37. McCluskey, S. C.: 1977, ‘The Astronomy of the Hopi Indians’, Archaeoastronomy (JHA, 8), 174–195.Google Scholar
  38. Radiocarbon: 1964, in M. Stuiver (ed.), Radiocarbon. – Publication Annually by the American Journal of Science, Kline Geology Laboratory, Yale University, New Haven, CN.Google Scholar
  39. Rappenglück, M.: 1997, ‘The Pleiades in the “Salle des Taureaux”, Grotte de Lascaux. Does a Rock Picture in the Cave of Lascaux Show the Open Star Cluster of the Pleiades at the Magdalénien Era (ca. 15,300 BC)?’, in C. Jaschek and F. Atrio Bárendela (eds.), Actas del IV Congreso de la SEAC “Astronomia en la Cultura” (Proceedings of the IVth SEAC Meeting “Astronomy in Culture”), Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, pp. 217–225.Google Scholar
  40. Rappenglück, M.: 1999, Eine Himmelskarte aus der Eiszeit? Ein Beitrag zur Urgeschichte der Himmelskunde und zur paläoastronomischen Methodik, Aufgezeigt am Beispiel der Szene in Le Puits, Grotte de Lascaux (Com.Montignac, Dép. Dordogne, Rég. Aquitaine, France), Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, NewYork, Wien.Google Scholar
  41. Rappenglück, M.: 2000, ‘Ice Age People Find their Ways by the Stars: A Rock Picture in the Cueva de El Castillo (Spain) May Represent the Circumpolar Constellation of the Northern Crown (CrB)’, Migration Diffusion Intl. J. 1(2), 15–28.Google Scholar
  42. Reichholf, J.: 1983, in Gunter Steinbach (ed.), Säugetiere, Mosaik Verlag, München.Google Scholar
  43. Stephenson, F. R.: 1994, ‘Chinese and Korean Star Maps and Catalogs’, in J. B. Harley and D. Woodward (eds.), The History of Cartography, Volume Two, Book Two: Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 511–578.Google Scholar
  44. Ulansey, D.: 1989, ‘The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries’, in Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  45. Vialou, D.: 1998, L'art des grottes, Éditions Scala, Paris.Google Scholar
  46. Xiaochun, S. and Kistemaker, J.: 1997, The Chinese Sky during the Han – Constellating Stars and Society, Brill, Leiden, New York, Köln.Google Scholar
  47. Zehren, E.: 1957, Das Testament der Sterne, F. A. Herbig Verlagsbuchhandlung (Walter Kahnert), Berlin-Grunewald.Google Scholar
  48. Zeilik, M.: 1986, ‘The Ethnoastronomy of the Historic Pueblos II: Moon Watching’, Archaeoastronomy 10 (JHA, 17), S1–S30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael A. Rappenglück
    • 1
  1. 1.vhs GilchingGermany

Personalised recommendations