A paleaolithic planetarium underground - The Cave of Lascaux (Part 1)

Dr. Michael Rappenglück M.A.

The cave of Lascaux (near Montignac, Dép. Dordogne, France) seems to be an important expression of the cosmovisions of Palaeolithic man, approximately 17,000 years ago. In two contributions for this journal I present a short overview about the main results of my research work concerning some striking rock picture panels in this grotto. Both articles are based on a special so-called “integral methodology”, which includes ways and results from several natural sciences and humanities, like archaeology, astronomy, ethnology, cartography, mythology, photogrammetry, scientific study of religion, semiotic and symbolism. In this first part some rock paintings in the “Hall of Bulls”, the “Axial Diverticle”, and the “Ship” are studied in detail. The scientific analysis indicates that the rock pictures among other things show seasonality and are related to certain celestial phenomena. In one case a composition of paintings in the “Axial Diverticle” points to the representation of the course of the moon related to important time of the animals seasons. In a second case the representation of an auerochs with a cluster of six spots floating above his back, to be found in the “Hall of Bulls”, may illustrate the Pleiades in a constellation, which is similar to the well-known Bull of our today’s sky. It is suggested that the people of Lascaux noticed a special star phase of this open cluster – the heliacal setting around the autumnal equinox – an fixed this special time in the year by a rock painting on the walls. This scientific result is further substantiated by traditions referring to the Pleiades, which are handed down by ancient people throughout the world.