January 5, 2011

Video: Magdalenian astronomy (in Spanish)

This video (51'36'') is sadly only available online in Spanish language in spite of having been shot originally in English (titles) and French (language of most of the people appearing in it). It deals with the research by French astronomer Chantal Jegues-Wolkiewiez of the astronomical knowledge of ancient Paleolithic people of what is now Southern France.

[Note: an English-language copy seems to be available for purchase HERE]


Sagittarius and Scorpio?
She began her research at the Southern Alps where she discovered that the dagger symbols on a stone indicate the rise of the Sun in the Autumn equinox. Eventually she began also researching caves from the heart of Paleolithic Europe: Dordogne (near modern Bordeaux), discovering that all or nearly all the caves with paintings have a clear solar orientation, being illuminated in either an equinox or a solstice. She also found several indications that the cycles of the Moon were being recorded as well.

Most fascinating (and controversial) is anyhow her claim that the famous paints of Lascaux represent the zodiacal constellations as perceived by the ancients. This last claim is however met with scepticism by many prehistorians, even if some also sympathize with her view. Paradigm-shaking in any case. 

Note: a similar claim was staked for the paintings of not less famous Altamira cave in modern Cantabria, Spain, in the book Arqueoastronomía Hispana, which also deals with other archaeoastronomical research in the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands.


  1. Greetings Maju,

    absolutely fantastic.

    the title of the blog comes very well after seeing the documentary.

    For what they were, we are.

    Are really people had a capacity of observation and imagination maybe more than at present

    individual religion?
    respect for nature and to life?

    absorption of knowledge and experiences that have made it come up here.

    And why would not be able to represent constellations?
    not true that pre-Socratic philosophers knew that the earth was flat and three-quarters were water?

    Often when we speak of the Upper Paleolithic, lose the perspective that modern humans had many thousands of years living and accumulating experiences and knowledge.

    We look to the Classical World of Greece and Rome, and it seems very far without stopping to think that behind them there are thousands and thousands of years of knowledge.

    maybe put the film on my blog

  2. Glad you liked it. Certainly in those times people had the occasion every night to watch the sky, so maybe there was a handful of gifted people among them who built their knowledge generation after generation in the "metropolis" of their time: Dordogne.


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