Sunday, September 4, 2011

Celestial imagery in the cave paintings of Lascaux

On the twelfth of September, 1940 -- almost exactly 71 years ago -- four teenage boys and a dog named Robot unexpectedly and accidentally discovered one of the most amazing pieces of ancient art in the world -- the cave system of Lascoux, decorated with nearly 2,000 images which had been preserved for millennia.

Who created them and what they mean is unknown, although conventional history books confidently tell us that they are the product of various "upper paleolithic" cultures that lived in the area and decorated the caves in from about 17,500 BC through 9,000 BC. The images at Lascaux and other nearby sites are often interpreted as artistic renditions of the prehistoric European animals that the paleolithic humans would have encountered at the time -- aurochs and red deer and other mammals -- and the few scenes containing human figures (there is only one such scene at Lascaux) are generally interpreted as "narrative" accounts of hunting episodes, in which certain animals were killed and perhaps in which some hunters were injured or met their end as well. Some scholars go beyond the idea that the paintings are mere narratives and argue that they represent an expression of deep and mystical identification with the power of nature manifested in the mighty bulls and horses and stags.

An evocative description of this view is given by Wade Davis in his deeply thought-provoking book The Wayfinders, a book we have touched on in a few previous posts such as "Some thoughts on the Hokule'a" and "How does barbarism win?" Describing the conclusions of observers who believe that the paintings found in the cave of Lascaux and other nearby sites represent an artistic depiction by very early man -- man barely separated from the animals -- of a nostalgia for the time when mankind and the animal kingdom were not yet sundered, Mr. Davis writes:
I recently spent a month in France in the Dordogne with Clayton Eshleman, who has been studying the cave art for more than thirty years, ever since a fateful morning in the spring of 1974 when he abandoned, as he put it, the world of bird song and blue sky for a realm of constricted darkness that filled his being with "mystical enthusiasm." [. . .]

Northrop Frye struggled in vain to assign purpose to these works. "We can add such words as religion and magic," he wrote, "but the fact remains that the complexity, urgency, and sheer titanic power of the motivation involved is something we cannot understand now, much less recapture." Frye saw the animals portrayed as a kind of "extension of human consciousness and power into the objects of greatest energy and strength they [the humans] could see in the world around them. It was as if in painting these forms on rock, the artist was somehow assimilating "the energy, the beauty, the elusive glory latent in nature to the observing mind." We look at the animal forms with human eyes and "suspect that we are really seeing a sorcerer or shaman who has identified himself with the animal by putting on its skin."

Clayton, too, sensed that the cave art did much more than invoke the magic of the hunt. Human beings, he suggested, were at one time of an animal nature, and then at some point, whether we want to admit it or not, were not. The art pays homage to that moment when human beings, through consciousness, separated themselves from the animal realm, emerging as the unique entity that we now know ourselves to be. Viewed in this light, the art may be seen -- as Clayton has written -- almost as "postcards of nostalgia," laments for a lost time when animals and people were as one. 29 - 30.
As attractive as this vision of the cave art may be, there is evidence that the entire thesis that Lascaux represents the first amazing artistic endeavors of extremely early humans may be completely wrong. Without taking anything away from the power and beauty of the artistic depiction of animals found in the natural world, it may in fact be possible that these images represent celestial formations -- that they in fact represent constellations familiar to us today!

This startling hypothesis has been put forth by several serious scholars in the past two or three decades, reviving theories first suggested in the nineteenth century but generally forgotten, as described in this extremely interesting article by William Glyn-Jones on the website of Graham Hancock (the article is three pages long and full of important images -- be sure to read page 2 and page 3 as well). For a more detailed description of this connection, see the longer discussion on Mr. Glyn-Jones' own blog here, which is also linked at the beginning of the first article.

Mr. Glyn-Jones points to previous work by scholars including Luz Antequara Congregado and Mary Settegast suggesting that the cave art of Lascaux depicts specific constellations, including Taurus (with the Hyades and the Pleiades -- see for example this article arguing for the identification of the Pleiades in one famous image at Lascaux), and that the famous "Panel of the Wounded Man" showing an angled human form next to a charging bull may be associated with the myth of Yima and the Bull.

As Mr. Glyn-Jones explains, in the ancient Zoroastrian texts dating to at least 550 BC, Yima is described as the first being, who led humans into a cave to protect them from destruction by ice, and then led them out again, and sacrificed a bull in an attempt to make humans immortal. Similarly, in Norse mythology, the frost giant Ymir is the first being to arise from the gaping primordial whirlpool of Ginungigap, followed closely by an ice cow. Later, the first three Aesir gods Odin, Hoenir and Lodur overthrew Ymir and fashioned the earth and heavens from his body.

In the articles linked above, Mr. Glyn-Jones notes that not only is Yima (or Ymir, or -- as he appears in ancient Hindu texts, Yama and his sister-bride Yami) always associated with a primordial bovine, but that his name appears etymologically related to the root word which gives us the word Gemini -- the Twins (Yama and Jama and Gem- being linguistically similar). The constellation Gemini is located in the zodiac right next to Taurus the Bull, and in fact leans at an angle relative to the bull at the same angle as the bird-headed human image in the cave.

In the Panel of the Wounded Man, from the cave of Lascaux, Mr. Glyn-Jones notes that the man is drawn quite stylistically and simply, with two parallel lines, in marked contrast to most of the other, very lifelike, images of animals in the caves, and he suggests that this was done to make it quite clear that the so-called "wounded man" represents the constellation Gemini.

Mr. Glyn-Jones notes that "The Twins constellation, Gemini, is located next to Taurus, the Bull. Gemini consists of two long straight lines leaning at a 45-degree angle with respect to the ecliptic, while the majority of Zodiac figures stand upright at culmination. The Bird Man also leans at this angle, and is drawn from two long straight lines. He is certainly in the right position relative to the Bull."

The observation is amazing and extremely plausible. It becomes even more stunning when Mr. Glyn-Jones notes that the Rhino located to the left of the leaning man appears to represent the constellation Leo the Lion. Note the curious angle of the tail of the Rhino -- it is quite plausible to argue that the shape portrays the same stars that form the head of the constellation Leo (see below, and see also the excellent illustrations in the articles from Mr. Glyn-Jones linked above, which show the images of Lascaux superimposed upon charts of the night sky).

Even more startling, Mr. Glyn-Jones suggests that the "bird on a pole" next to the "wounded man" is very suggestive of the image of a bird on a pole in the Denderah round zodiac (pictured in this previous post) which is similarly located directly below the image of the Twins there as well!

This connection is utterly astounding, particularly because historians generally agree that the falcon on the pole beneath the Twins on the round zodiac of Denderah is representative of the standard of the Followers of Horus and that it marks the location of the star Sirius. Mr. Glyn-Jones points out that Sirius was not visible from the latitude of Lascaux in the remote epoch of 17,500 BC, and because of this he modifies his position to suggest that perhaps in the Lascaux cave the image represents Procyon instead of Sirius.

He also notes that the presence of such a diagram from a time so far before Egypt must mean that these Upper Paleolithic people may have eventually migrated south to become the forerunners of dynastic Egypt, as incredible as it is to suggest that such cultural iconography could have survived intact for so many thousands of years.

However, we should step back from these two details and look at a bigger issue. The astounding evidence that the cave art of Lascaux appears to incorporate precise celestial imagery suggests that this art is not the product of Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers at all. In fact, the entire ancient timeline that describes mankind emerging from an animal-like state into long ages of paleolithic hunting and gathering and ultimately settling down into neolithic agricultural cultivation and eventually higher and higher forms of civilization is a fabrication of Darwinian assumptions about the origins of man and is in fact built upon extremely suspicious assumptions, as we have argued many times previously in this blog and in the Mathisen Corollary book as well.

It's not that the supposed Paleolithic human beings who were hunter-gatherers were not intelligent or artistic enough to observe constellations and then depict them as art in the form of animals and bird-headed humans. However, which is more likely: that Paleolithic artists depicted a bird-on-a-pole in the position of Sirius at an epoch when Sirius was not even visible at the latitude that it was painted, and that they developed the understanding of the zodiac constellations which was still in use fifteen thousand years later in Egypt and Babylon, or that this cave art was not actually produced in 17,500 BC but at a time when Sirius was quite visible in Europe, perhaps by people who also inherited some portions of the astronomical knowledge that was also passed on to Egypt? As John Anthony West and R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz have observed, much of the science of ancient Egypt appears fully-formed in the very earliest temples and texts -- it does not appear to have been developed by the Egyptians but rather inherited by them.

In other words, it appears to me to be quite possible that the authors of these amazing paintings were descended from the same lost ancient civilization from which the Egyptians were also descended, rather than the less likely possibility that the Egyptians are descendents of these artists (to put it one other way, I would argue that the Egyptians and the artists of Lascaux are co-descendents of the same lost civilization).

For those who would counter that radiocarbon dating firmly establishes the dating of Lascoux, I would point out that in my book, I discuss reasons why carbon dating for ages over 5,000 years may be based on faulty assumptions and thus yield incorrect conclusions, following the arguments that Dr. Walt Brown has published in his book detailing the hydroplate theory.

Also, note well that, contrary to the sequence related in the ancient Yima / Ymir mythology (in which Ymir rises first from the brine, followed by the cow), Gemini does not lead Taurus in the nightly rotation of the zodiac across the heavens. On the contrary, Taurus leads Gemini in the sky's nightly rotation. It is only in the subtle and millennia-long motion of precession that the Age of Gemini leads the Age of Taurus (which in turn precedes the Age of Aries, which precedes the Age of Pisces, which precedes the much-anticipated Age of Aquarius).

Ancient myths which speak of Ymir being overthrown, or of a god who ruled the previous age being superseded and going down to sleep in the underworld (as does Osiris in ancient Egypt or Kronos/Saturn in ancient Greece) clearly indicate extremely ancient awareness of precession. Are we to understand that, in addition to passing along the constellations and many of the icons associated with them, these ancient Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers who painted in caves also found time to make the detailed recordings of astral positions for the successive centuries that would be required to detect and decipher the phenomenon of precession?

In short, the very credible evidence suggesting that the images in the caves of Lascaux and the rest of the Dordogne area encode celestial phenomena completely upends conventional timelines of mankind's ancient past. The clear parallels to iconography used in ancient Egypt as well as to mythology stretching from the Hindu Vedas to the ancient Zoroastrian Avestan texts and even to the Norse myths suggests a cultural connection to a lost ancient civilization that conventional history completely rejects.

Although the theory that these images point to events in the celestial sphere was put forward in the nineteenth century, that possibility was ignored until the 1990s -- most likely because of the deadening effect of the spread of Darwinian theory throughout academia towards the end of the 1800s, enroute to the absolute stranglehold that it has on academic thought today.

To take a virtual tour of the caverns of Lascaux and the ancient artwork they contain, check out the impressive Virtual Lascoux website. It will load in French, but to see it in English (or German, Spanish, or with videos containing sign language), simply move your mouse/cursor-pointer to the far left side of the screen, which will cause a "pop-out panel" to slide into view, and then move your mouse/cursor-pointer to the bottom of this panel, which will reveal flags of the UK, Germany, Spain, and an image of two hands -- click on these and be patient: it will reload the entire website in the desired language.

The tour is visually beautiful and well worth browsing through in multiple sittings. To find the "Panel of the Wounded Man" in the major section of the site entitled "A Visit to the Cave," go to the section of the caverns entitled "The Shaft" and then to the sub-section entitled "Panel of the Wounded Man." To find the image of the Taurus Bull with the clear sign of the Pleiades in the correct astronomical position relative to the horns of Taurus, go to the "Hall of the Bulls" and to the section entitled "Panel of the Black Bear."

Navigation of the massive site is made somewhat easier by the same pop-out panel described above (pops out from the left side of your screen), which contains a square entitled "Visit to the Cave" which contains a sub-menu if you click on the square, showing the sections of the cave: The Hall of the Bulls, the Axial Gallery, the Passageway, the Nave, the Chamber of Felines, the Apse, and the Shaft.