Did the zodiacal system exist in Iron-Age Britain? British Iron-Age coin showing back-to-back crescent moons
While the Picts, famous for their symbol stones, were fighting each other, and then the Romans, in Scotland, British Celts were fighting each other, and then the Romans, in the rest of Britain. Nearly all these people, and their culture, were imported from mainland Europe in the preceding few millennia - we now know this from genetic studies. This means the British and Scottish Celts represent the tail-end of the Indo-European migration from the Pontic Steppe.
Several millennia before that, the indigenous hunter-gather population was almost totally replaced by Anatolian farmers. So we have the sequence: European hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers, Indo-Europeans, in the British Isles. Most people in the UK now have DNA which is roughly an equal mix of these three lineages.
However, we now suspect all these different cultures used practically the same zodiacal system - only a s…
Decoding the Boar Common Lepinski Vir stone sculpture, often interpreted as representing a human-fish hybrid
I think the boar has finally been decoded, at least in Neolithic and Iron Age Europe. First see the ancient site of Lepinski Vir, a Neolithic site on the Danube in Serbia - part of the Danube Gorges cultural complex.
Lepinski Vir is best known for being a gateway site between Neolithic Anatolia and Mesolithic Europe. Essentially, the 'Anatolian farmers' who migrated or invaded Europe after the 8.2 kiloyear event (around 6200 to 6300 BC) appear to have used this route. It is one of the very first European sites to have adopted agriculture, thereby entering the Neolithic age.
Before the main phase of occupation at Lepinski Vir, from 6200 to 5900 BC, a few small Mesolithic settlements on this site are known over the preceding few thousand years.
However, the main phase of occupation is quite different to these earlier settlements. Apart from adopting agriculture, they buil…
Was the Younger Dryas mini ice-age also ended by a cosmic impact? Sites where the Younger Dryas boundary layer has been identified, from Thackeray et al. Paleontologica Africana vol. 54, p30-35 (2019).
New research from South Africa shows the Younger Dryas boundary layer extends across a fourth continent. Thackeray et al. created an age-depth model for sediments in Wonderkrater, an archaeological site in South Africa, and then correlated their model with measurements of platinum. Not only did they find a major platinum spike near the onset of the Younger Dryas mini ice-age, they also found a smaller spike near its end, suggesting that both the onset and ending of the Younger Dryas period were triggered by cosmic impacts.
Unfortunately, their plotting software seems to have a bug, but the tabulated data is very clear. A large excess of platinum occurs at 10,800 BC, which is very close to the onset of the YD period. And a smaller platinum spike occurs around 9,900 BC. Although the uncer…
Bucrania shrines at Boncuklu Summary of the Boncuklu site, from an educational brochure at Boncuklu.org
Boncuklu is another ancient site discovered in southern Turkey fairly recently, close to the well-known site of Catalhoyuk. Along with Gobekli Tepe and Catalhoyuk, we now have continuity of the zodiacal system in southern Turkey from around 11,000 BC (Gobekli Tepe) to 6000 BC (Catalhoyuk).
The architecture at Boncuklu is intermediate between early PPNA (pre-pottery Neolithic A) structures and those at Catalhoyuk. Circular or oval dwellings of mud-brick walls were dug down into the ground, with separate internal spaces for shrines made of plaster. So far, only shrines with bulls skulls (bucrania) have been found.
The timeline for Boncuklu is between 8,300 BC and 7,500 BC. The bucrania represent Capricornus, according to our zodiac theory which was the autumn equinox constellation from around 8,400 BC to 6,400 BC. Again, the agreement is perfect.
Does the Lascaux Shaft Scene document a cosmic impact in the Late Middle Magdalenian?
Calibrated radiocarbon chronology for multiple Magdalenian sub-phases and the Magdalenian - Azilian transition in Spain and France (from Barshay-Szmidt et al., Quaternary International (2016)).
The Lascaux shaft scene is perhaps the most iconic of all European Palaeolithic cave artworks (see below). It shows a bison and human, apparently both dying and normally interpreted as a hunting scene. But we no know, beyond any reasonable doubt, the animal symbols represent constellations, and the Shaft Scene in particular very likely represents a date using precession of the equinoxes.
Copy of the Lascaux Shat Scene, courtesy of Alistair Coombs
Using the zodiacal method and our ancient zodiac, the date 'written' in the scene is between 15,300 and 15,000 BC (see Prehistory Decoded). The similarity of this scene to Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe suggests it documents another asteroid or comet strike, this …
Last month, Bill Napier (co-creator of the coherent catastrophism theory, with Victor Clube) published his latest paper (MNRAS, vol. 488, p 1822-1827) on the impact hazard from disintegrating comets in the inner solar system. His focus is on a large 100 km comet in an Encke-like orbit. It is a sophisticated work that extends his earlier estimates, this time by combining explicit orbital simulations with a calibrated model of comet fragmentation (published by de Sisto et al. in 2009).
His aim, like mine in Prehistory Decoded, is to estimate the hazard to Earth from the kind of comet thought to have become trapped in our inner system a few tens of thousands of years ago. We know, pretty much, that this happened because of the massive zodiacal dust cloud and correlated fragments that remain in orbit.
He concludes that we can expect one or two impact collisions over the last 20,000 years, or so, with energy over 6000 Mt, and that this energy will likely…
This is for the benefit of those that haven't yet seen the subsurface radar scan of Gobekli Tepe. The above image is from Deitrich et al., Antiquity vol. 86 (2012), freely available on the internet.
The little portion of Gobekli Tepe so far excavated corresponds to the detailed portion of the map, bottom right, which includes the main circular enclosures A to D. As you can see, even Enclosure D, the oldest and largest enclosure yet uncovered, corresponding to the uppermost green circle is small relative to some of the remaining structures.
The structure right in the middle of the plot looks especially interesting - being nearly twice the diameter of enclosure D. Considering the progression of these structures - they seem to get larger as they get older - perhaps this central enclosure is the 'heart' of Gobekli Tepe, and will reveal a great deal more about its function and purpose.
But some of the other structures remaining in the ground also look to…
Zodiacal dating the Gundestrup Cauldron
Interior of Panel A of the Gundestrup Cauldron, image from Wikipedia
The Gundestrup Cauldron is a fantastic piece of large, intricate silverware, weighing around 7 kilos. It was found in a Danish bog in 1891, but its manufacture is thought to date to the first few centuries BC, or perhaps slightly after.
It is formed from several panels displaying mythological scenes, including many animals and humanoid faces. The main panel that concerns us is the interior of Panel A, shown above. This particular panel is very similar to the Pashupati Seal, which features in Prehistory Decoded (shown below).
Pressing from the Pashupati Seal, Mohenjo-Daro, India, image from Wikipedia.
The Pashupati Seal possibly shows an early version of Shiva, known as Rudra, an Indian horned god, surrounded by animals. The zodiacal date of this seal is given in Prehistory Decoded as around 1950 BC, to within a few hundred years, which agrees with its established dating. The …
Zodiacal dating the Burghead Bulls
A Pictish (Burghead) bull symbol stone in the National Museum of Scotland
The Pictish bull symbol has had a hard time justifying itself. Jackson (in The Symbol Stones of Scotland) claims it is not a Pictish symbol at all, because it never occurs in a pair - which is his definition of a Pictish symbol. Cummins (in The Picts and their Symbols) makes no mention of bull symbols at all. This is despite around 30 'individual' bull symbols being found at Burghead that have the same style as all the other Pictish symbols. Only 6 of these symbols have survived (one is in the National Museum of Scotland - see above).
Burghead is the site of an ancient Pictish fort, thought to be the oldest and largest Pictish site of all. While radiocarbon evidence suggests the ancient fort dates back to the 5th century BC, much older iron age and even bronze age finds have been uncovered nearby, indicating the area was occupied from a very early time.
A fishy tale Image: http://www.tourisme-vezere.com/fr/fiche/Grotte-et-gouffre-Dordogne-Perigord/Abri-du-Poisson/PCUAQU024FS0000O
Of course, we are familiar with the fish symbol representing Pisces. But at Gobekli Tepe, and later throughout the Near East, Pisces is represented by the tall bending bird - which probably eventually became the Egyptian god Thoth. So when and where did the switch for Pisces from tall bending bird to fish happen?
The earliest potential Pisces-fish symbol might be the carved salmon in the L'Abri du Poisson cave, France (BTW, Don's maps is a simply brilliant resource for Palaeolithic art - how he found the time to visit all these sites, I'll never know). Unfortunately, this fish carving can't be radiocarbon dated, so we can't know whether it corresponds to Pisces or not. But given that we have proven that animal symbols in Palaeolithic art do generally represent constellations, and given the undoubted effort and expertise that has gone int…
Equivalence of Mithraic Tauroctony and Cippus of Horus scenes
Mithraic Tauroctony (Roman, circa 0 AD, left) and Cippus of Horus scene (Egyptian, New Dynasty, 1st millennium BC and earlier)
The Mithraic Tauroctony scene (above left) has fascinated scholars for hundreds of years (see here). The origin of Mithraism and the meaning of its symbolism has proven to be a tricky problem. Early ideas centred on its origin in Persia in the 2nd or 3rd millennium BC, because of the dress-code of Mithras and because bull-slaying is a known theme of Persian Zoroastrianism (the primordial bull is slain by Ahriman, who perhaps becomes Mithras in ancient Rome).
However, more recently the astronomical interpretation of David Ulansey, an American Professor of comparative mythology at Princeton, has gained favour. He interprets the scene as a change of age, from the age of Taurus into the age of Aries. Therefore, the scene displays knowledge of precession of the equinoxes. Familiar symbols support his vi…
Image from Aberdeenshire.gov.uk/leisure-sport-and-culture/archaeology/sites-to-visit/pictish-symbol-stones/
The Picts lived in Scotland in the 1st millennium AD, and probably before. It is generally thought that the Romans named them after the paint they wore, and they built Hadrian's Wall to protect their lands to the south from them.
The Picts are famous for their symbols, which they carved into megalithic pillars. To date, these symbols have remained a mystery, although several people have provided potential interpretations. One of the most well-known is due to Jackson who interpreted them as family crests - he describes his theory in detail in his 1984 book 'The Symbol Stones of Scotland'.
In my view, they are instead practically the same system of zodiacal and astronomical symbols we have found across Europe and the Near East, from Palaeolithic caves to Gobekli Tepe, Catalhoyuk, Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Of course, given the time difference the …
Chapter 6: Comets vs Asteroids (from Prehistory Decoded, uploaded for Asteroid Day 2019) Did a
huge cosmic catastrophe occur around 10,900 BC that wiped out many large animal
species, brought the world to its knees, and triggered a mini ice age?
Regardless of myths and legends, this question can only be definitively
answered by science, based on evidence and logical deduction. We saw in Chapter 5 that geochemical evidence points
very strongly towards this view, although precise details of the event are
elusive. It is not clear what kind of object, or objects, caused the
destruction, and the impact it had on climate, megafauna, and human cultures
continues to be debated. Furthermore, the impact hypothesis has been
challenged, mainly by Mark Boslough, on the grounds that an event involving
multiple impacts spread across several continents even defies the laws of
physics. This view contends that comets and asteroids orbit the inner solar
system alone, without any accompanying debris. They…