Decoding Europe’s Palaeolithic art: Extremely ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes

Martin Sweatman, Alistair Coombs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A consistent interpretation is provided for Neolithic Göbekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük as well as European Palaeolithic cave art, figurines and other sites. It appears they all display the same method for recording dates based on precession of the equinoxes, with animal symbols representing an ancient zodiac. The same constellations are used today in the West, although some of the zodiacal symbols are different. In particular, the Shaft Scene at Lascaux is found to have a similar meaning to the Vulture Stone at Göbekli Tepe. Both can be viewed as memorials of catastrophic encounters with the Taurid meteor stream, consistent with Clube and Napier’s theory of coherent catastrophism. The date of the likely comet strike recorded at Lascaux is 15,150 ± 200 BC, corresponding closely to the onset of a climate event recorded in a Greenland ice core. A survey of radiocarbon dates from Chauvet and other Palaeolithic caves is consistent with this zodiacal interpretation, with a very high level of statistical significance. Finally, the Lion Man of Hohlenstein-Stadel, circa 38,000 BC, is also consistent with this interpretation, indicating this knowledge is extremely ancient and was widespread.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAthens Journal of History
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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