The Oldest Lunar Calendars and Earliest Constellations have been identified in cave art found in France and Germany. The astronomer-priests of these late Upper Paleolithic Cultures understood mathematical sets, and the interplay between the moon annual cycle, ecliptic, solstice and seasonal changes on earth.
Marshack deciphered sets of marks carved into animal bones, and occasionally on the walls of caves, as records of the lunar cycle. These marks are sets of crescents or lines. Artisans carefully controlled line thickness so that a correlation with lunar phases would be as easy as possible to perceive. Sets of marks were often laid out in a serpentine pattern that suggests a snake deity or streams and rivers.
His task was to rid the land of wild beasts and monsters. Luckily, this was a test for which he was well qualified and his magic lion skin protected him from harm.
Possible depiction of Orion’s Belt (Grapevine Canyon, Nevada), note the serpent figure above, a connection with the Lunar calendar previously mentioned
Backstone Beck Carvings, Rombalds Moor, Ilkley showing possible depiction of Orion’s belt (bottom image only)
Aerial view of the monument showing alignment similar to Orion’s Belt
Thornborough is a religious site that is 5,000 years old; it comprises the world's only triple henge complex. This is a single precinct that was built as part of a religious pilgrimage point. The henges are circular ditches - three 'circus rings', each 240m in diameter - with external earth walls that serve to create the UK's largest ritual complex of the period.
The earliest Orion alignment comes from the Cursus monument that is now largely quarried out and underlies the central henge. Cursus monuments are amongst the earliest ritual monuments in Britain and are thought to be ceremonial causeways. If you imagine a very wide and straight Roman road - with banks and ditches on either side - this is similar to how the Cursus would have looked.
The Cursus is aligned roughly east-west and it is to the west that the Cursus is thought to have aligned with the setting of Orion in 3,500 BC. The eastern alignment may well have been set to the midsummer solstice sunrise, for although the monument was built using straight lines, at its centre (the point under the central henge) it changes direction slightly: an adjustment for its eastern alignment - possibly the sunrise?
The Cursus was originally at least 1.2 miles in length and may well have been much longer, since it disappears under the village of Thornborough. It is this Cursus that may have been the first monument in the world aligned to Orion.
Plan view of the Pyramids of Giza demonstrating similar alignment to the Thornborough Henge complex
Orion depicted in roadways, rivers and monuments
Two researchers have claimed that a huge, human-like depiction present in the road system straddling Meath and Louth (Ireland) could be the world’s largest ground-based representation of the constellation of Orion. They say that there is "tantalising evidence" that the vast 'High Man' figure may have been set down in prehistory and a five-year project of research into ancient myths and stories has revealed a significant astronomical knowledge among the ancient Irish.
While it might seem strange that such a life-like geoglyph should exist in the road network, The High Man is a very potent and profound discovery, with a possible manmade genesis. It might appear that only extraordinary chance could result in such an outstanding visual icon. But what if this huge figure exists not by the result of quirk or chance, but rather by the outstanding brilliance of an ancient design?
Depiction of Orion’s belt from Newgrange, part of the High Man complex
Back in the Stone Age when Millmount was probably constructed, significant stars and constellations were setting in the direction of Tara. These included Sirius, the brightest star in the entire sky, and the great warrior-like constellation Orion, whose giant shape appears to have been copied onto the ground by The High Man figure.
High atop the imposing butte at the entrance of the canyon is the most famous of Chaco’s sites. There, a set of spiral petroglyphs pecked into a cliff face behind three giant slabs of rock functions as a solar marker. At summer solstice, a vertical shaft of light pierces the main spiral exactly at its center. On the winter solstice, two shafts of light perfectly bracket the same spiral. Light shafts strike the center of a smaller spiral nearby on the spring and fall equinoxes.
Graphic explaining how the ‘Sun Dagger’ worked
Piedra del Sol (literally, "rock of the sun") is a large boulder not far from the visitor enter at Chaco Canyon. Pecked into this boulder is a petroglyph in the shape of concentric circles, a symbol thought to represent the sun.
Standing with your back to this petroglyph, you see a distinct triangular rock before you. The sun appears to rise from the tip of this rock exactly two weeks before summer solstice.
Nearby pecked basins, in which corn would have been ground for ceremonial offerings to the sun, support the theory that this site was used for observing and offering prayers to the sun.
The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19 metre long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years.
At dawn on Winter Solstice every year, just after 9am, the sun begins to rise across the Boyne Valley from Newgrange over a hill known locally as Red Mountain. Given the right weather conditions, the event is spectacular.
At four and a half minutes past nine, the light from the rising sun strikes the front of Newgrange, and enters into the passage through the roofbox which was specially designed to capture the rays of the sun.
For the following fourteen minutes, the beam of light stretches into the passage of Newgrange and on into the central chamber, where, in Neolithic times, it illuminated the rear stone of the central recess of the chamber. With simple stone technology, these wonderful people captured a very significant astronomical and calendrical moment in the most spectacular way.
A recumbent circle is formed principally of a ring of stones, like all other stone circles; however, there is one, large recumbent stone laid on its side, usually flanked by the two largest of the standing stones immediately on either side. The stones are commonly graded in height with the lowest stones being diametrically opposite to the tall flankers.
Images showing Recumbent stone laid on its side, creating an ‘altar’
The Moon running its course over a Lunar Altar
Aerial view of the octagon, the earth works can be seen where the grass has grown to varying lengths
A large platform mound, referred to as Observatory Mound, is located along the south-western perimeter of the circle opposite the gateway to the Octagon. The form of Observatory Mound suggests it was built across a former entrance to the circular earthwork.
This was perplexing, until it dawned on them that there were no solar alignments because the walls were aligned to something else – the moon. They found that the architecture of the Octagon Earthworks incorporated alignments to all of the eight major moonrises and moonsets that define a repeating 18.6-year lunar cycle.
Plan of the Octagon and Observatory mound
The Octagon Earthworks are a remarkable testament to the architectural and engineering genius of the Hopewell culture, but astronomers recently have come to realize that the Hopewell culture builders aligned these earthworks to the cyclical dance of the earth and moon. If you stand atop the Observatory Mound and look across the circle through the parallel-walled passage leading into the octagon and out through the octagon's northeastern gateway, the point on the horizon at which you are sighting is where the moon rises at its most northerly extreme. The intricate 18.6 year-long cycle of the moon can be encompassed by four points on the eastern horizon marking a maximum northern moonrise, a minimum northern moonrise, a maximum and minimum southern moonrise and four points on the western horizon marking the corresponding moonsets. The Hopewell culture builders encoded all of these astronomical landmarks into the architecture of the Octagon.
The passage of the Moon was watched from the viewing platform
Depending on the time of year, the moon would rise and fall in the gaps in the substantial Octagon Earthwork
Graphic showing various alignments of the setting Moon
Originally posted by Maegnas
One amazing, for me, part was the Moon altar and that fantastic photo of the Moon "rolling" on the altar stone, I had read about things like that but never seen one, thanks for posting that pic