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.
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.Paper. (open access) – Martin B. Sweatman, Alistair Coombs. Decoding European Palaeolithic art: Extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes. Athens Journal of History, 2018 More.
It’s a bold claim but it’s at least consistent with what we know of ancient peoples of whom we have more detailed knowledge (they took astronomy seriously). Come to think of it, if very ancient peoples had any idea of a comet strike, the idea of the stars “foretelling our future” would make a lot of sense too. Keep the file open.
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See also: Early Human Religion: A 747 Built in the Basement with an X-Acto Knife (Gobekli Tepe)
Is the astronomy in the Book of Job scientifically consistent?
New clue in riddle regarding ancient computing machine (the antikythera)