A palaeolithic planetarium underground - The Cave of Lascaux (Part 2)

Dr. Michael Rappenglück M.A.

Continuing the first part part which showed certain astronomical aspects of some rock pictures in the cave of Lascxu (near Montignac, Dép. Dordogne, France) I now present an overview about a very detailed analysis a complete cycle of paintings in the so-called "Well of the Dead Man" situated deep in the grotto. The scientific results base the suggestion that the hunter-gatherer people of Lascaux possessed a complete cosmography, which included certain conceptions of life. At approx. 14,500 BC, around midnight, summmer-solstice day, an extraordinary view of the sky was visible: A triangle shaped by three prominent bright stars turned around the northern Pole Star δ Cyg in the Swan, which in those days was situated in the Milky Way. This unique position of the world axis pointing to the Galaxy may have motivated the people of Lascaux to develop a complete cosmography, based on an archaic kind of shamanistic-totemistic conceptions of the world and of life, related to hunter-gatherer economy. In that world view different experiences of the world and of man himself had been combined into a unified whole. In additions the research shows that the picture panel of the "Dead Man" also presents a fundamental instrument , which was used to take one's bearings and to get the time from the sky - a sundial. Moreover this device was closely related to an ancient world-view. Taken both parts of the whole researxh, it is suggested to belief that one function of the cave of Lascaux was to act as a kind of prehistoric planetarium, which at the same time was a sanctuary.