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Lascaux - stars in their eyes?

Lascaux - stars in their eyes?

05 Nov 2013 BY Tim Wells

The jewel in the crown in the world of Paleolithic cave painting is the grotte de Lascaux near Montignac-sur-Vézère. The French anthropologist Abbé Henri Breuil called Lascaux the “Sistine Chapel of prehistoric times”. Dated to around 17,000 years ago, the caves were discovered in 1940. Two thousand separate images of prehistoric animals, geometric designs, and one solitary human figure, burst forth from the walls of the caves, often etched into the contours of the rock walls themselves, in glorious earthen hues and alive with movement and a perspective ability not seen again until the 16th century. Some palaeontologists, however, believe that interspersed among the paintings are man’s earliest stellar maps. Near the entrance to the caves is a pattern of dots above the shoulder of a bull that represents the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters. The “Summer Triangle” of stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega appear in the eyes of a bull, a bird, and the mysterious birdman in the “Shaft of the Dead Man”, and a further pattern of dots could represent a lunar calendar. They could be merely hunting tallies, but one would like to think that our ancient ancestors looked to the heavens and wondered at what they saw.

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