Astronomy in Prehistoric Time
The more we dig into prehistoric archeology the more we find artifacts and cave paintings possibly related to astronomical observations. More and more professional prehistorians are open to this idea.
The classic example is the Lascaux Cave in France. Some painted walls might be a symbolic representation of a starry sky.
Among the many Lascaux paintings, we find this bull drawn with black dots that match the stars map of the Taurus constellation: The Pleiades cluster (Pl); the Hyades cluster (Hya) forming its typical triangle with Aldebaran (Ald); the 3 stars of Orion’s belt. Is it just an extraordinary coincidence? If it was intentional that means the Taurus constellation was already designed in the Upper Paleolithic time.
Here is a series of 3 mini-documentaries on archaeoastronomy. We were asked by several archaeologists and astronomers to do a few documentaries to introduce astronomy to a large public not neglecting the requirements for an academic level.
The voice over is French. English subtitles were added.
Introduction to archaeoastronomy
↑ Activate the English subtitles
On the sun's trail - archaeoastronomy - episode 2
Çatal Höyük - Archaeoastronomy episode 3
Çatal Höyük, in Turkey, is the oldest city in the world. It marks the dawn of agriculture in the Neolithic time. Surprisingly, the houses are adorned with illustrations that seem to be astronomical symbols according to the Archeodoxa team. I was suspecting that these mansions would have been sun clocks. Indeed, their windows had precise orientations and were located only at the top of the walls. In addition, its dwellers were entering by the roof using a ladder.
As you will see below, my suspicions are confirmed. I'm happy that others have thought about it too. This shows that trends are changing and that archaeologists are increasingly accepting the idea that astronomy was extremely important in the beliefs of our distant ancestors.
As a reminder, the aim of this website is more than just exposing our research but also to initiate people to archeoastronomy. A geologist by trade, I was called to collaborate with archaeologists during my 15 years in Turkey. My surprise was to realize that many archaeologists and historians were not sufficiently trained or open mind to appreciate archeoastronomy. And that's where came my idea of doing 3D animations to explain in all simplicity the fundamental principles of an astronomy specific to our ancestors.
Çatal Höyük - timelapse of a Sun clock house - Credits : Eva Bosch
Çatal Höyük - Houses were Sun clock!!
Eva Bosch is a Catalan artist involved in prehistoric art. While in Turkey, Eva worked along archaeologists (see www.catalhoyuk.com). She took the opportunity to film in 'time-lapse' this incredible video of the Sun’s movement on an experimental house of Çatal Höyük.
Visit a Çatal Höyük house in 3D
The following 3D animation, by Grant Cox, gives a realistic glimpse of a Neolithic house of Catal Höyük;
This photo essay outlines the experimental work undertaken in summer 2007 in Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, Turkey, while the author was the artist in residence. The work done in this Neolithic settlement led to the discovery of a sun clock, i.e. a beam of light present in each dwelling entering from the roof and drifting like a sun dial to different areas of the house. The parallelogram of light produced by the beam created a pattern of light and shadow, showing the archaeological importance of shadows and their power to reveal aspects of people’s lives in the settlement. Based on the study of the shadows observed and filmed in Çatalhöyük indoors and outdoors, this chapter examines the functions and purposes of selected shadows that show how approaching archaeology from an artist’s viewpoint can enhance interpretation, understanding, and the production.
Homo Erectus's tools of Bilzingsleben
We are so used to perceiving cavemen as primitive that many prehistorians wouldn’t conceive that they were interested in memorizing some sort of sky map. The choc is greater when we consider some of the Homo erectus tools found at Bilzingsleben in Germany.