Ice age people find their ways by the stars: A rock picture in the Cueva di El Castillo (Spain) may represent the circumpolar constellation of the Northern Crown (CrB)
Dr. Michael Rappenglück M.A.
A rock picture in the Cueva di El Castillo (Spain) show a particular pattern of points. Examined from an astronomical viewpoint, it may be a pictorial representation of the lower culmination of the constellation of the Northern Crown (CrB) at about 12.000 - 11.000 BC. The research works starts with a precise description of the pattern and the picture. Then this is designated hypothetically as a constellation, by reason of its appearance. Finally a comprehensive astronomical computation is made to determine its shape, position and time of visibility during the millennia at the geographical latitude of the cave. The analysis considers the precession of the equinox, the proper motions of the stars, the refraction and the extinction of starlight, the visual horizon and the star phases. Two myths, handed over by the Greeks and the Celts, are told, helping to understand the function of the constellation for the ancient Ice Age cultures. At last the function of the Northern Crown for orientating and navigating at land and sea is discussed in connection with a similar example from the Lascaux grotto (France) and new discoveries about seafaring at the end of the last Ice Age.