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As this site has a great deal of collective information relating to paleoastronomy, and specifically the identification of ancient and even prehistoric constellations that have never been identified as such before by science, it is common as in any little-noticed field for those who are interested and active in these quests, but who do not specifically understand the nature of a field, whether professional or amateur, will approach it rather dismissively.  That is, dismiss it in preference to other explanations that are more social or psychological in nature, something they are more familiar with and has constituted an acceptable line of explanation in the past.

Perhaps it will be concluded that there is some goal operating behind-the-scenes in explaining a range of unanswered questions by associating them instead with constellations.  So it might find itself targeted by them in the same way they might those who explain any so-called “unexplained phenomena” by associating a number of unrelated mysteries under some broad topic such as Interplanetary Aliens or Lost Atlantis, or some forgotten civilization.  But the presence of a great ignorance on any matter is surely no excuse to permit any number of baseless theories to be sustained.  Whether it is in paleoanthropology or cosmology, speculation is good for scientists at times but it is not sufficient for science itself.

Of course there is more to paleoastronomy than merely identifying constellations, it also includes the Sun and solar cycle, the Moon and lunar cycle, the planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), eclipses, individual stars and star clusters, the Milky Way, background stars, comets, novae, supernovae, and meteors.  It of course does not apply to phenomena that are only visible with optical or spectral aids, which comprises most of modern Earth-based astronomical research.


So what then is the difference between Paleoastronomy and Archaeoastronomy?  There might be no difference in the way they are commonly used, although Archaeoastronmy tends to be the more widely used term.  The important distinction as I see it is that Archaeoastronomy is concerned with how astronomical aspects were measured and played a role in the mythology and beliefs of ancient humans, in other words the way the night sky influenced the construction of buildings, the making of objects, and the conceptions held within the society.  So in this regard sites that record the solstices or are aligned to certain stars, or a myth that contains reference to the phases of the Moon would fit into this.  By comparison Paleoastronomy is the attempt to define the actual astronomical knowledge of the past, and thus is an attempt towards not seeing just how it was physically measured or subsequently used but to define the actual phenomena of the sky, which could be recorded within a written text, orally transmitted, or be pictographically represented.  (It would be the difference between a field that is interested in the design of telescopes and the way the observations influence the society versus the actual observations that are made with the telescope.)

      Here are some examples.  Archaeastronomy would be interested in measuring of a site to determine how its design might have some basis in the motion of the heavens and to define the site in great detail, where Paleoastronomy would be more concerned with what was being observed, such as knowing that the times of the solstices were being measured.  Archaeoastronomy would be concerned with how ancient humans reacted to the arrival of a comet, while Paleoastronomy would be concerned with its observation and any attempt to illustrate it or record its passage.  Archaeastraonomy would be interested in a myth where the phases of the Moon are explained, Paleoastraonomy would be interested in extracting an explanation about the phases of the Moon from the myth.  This also includes myths where an oral tradition no longer retained the knowledge that it did in fact contain astronomical information.  (Thus it is not the existence or cultural meaning of the myth itself but the specific astronomical information that is collected from it that is deemed relevant.)

      For this reason Paleoastronomy can be approached from any effort to observe and record astronomical observations, but from the standpoint of the record being created, not the collection of means by which it is gained or the way it is subsequently transmitted in myth or how it infiltrated (through interpretation and inspiration) into religious rituals and practices.  Although one can clearly see that the two fields are closely related, but it is made more clear to see Archaeoastronomy as the amassing of total record of cultural information relating to the heavens, Paleoastronomy only arrives at a record of the astronomical observations, and thus is merely more refined and specific.  It also includes what might be gleaned from written observations of astronomical phenomena, even within the historical timeframe.  In effect, Paleoastronomy covers the period of time prior to the development of the science of Astronomy, and is concerned with the very same aspects of observation and recording of astronomical phenomena, which as we are dealing with a time before the telescope, are of objects that are observable to the unaided human eye.




One thing that seems to factor into the approach to paleoastronomy is that the night sky plays such an insignificant role in our modern society.  So too most people working in archaeology, anthropology and mythology usually have no knowledge or interest in astronomy.  Perhaps only because I have sustained an abiding interest in each of these fields that circumstances arose that permitted an association among them.

Much of this work has become astonishing to me as it has revealed of how often the night sky caught the interest of ancient people and possessed far greater meaning to them than it holds for most of us today (unless it is our special field).  It became the basis for their gods and the basis for their myths, as is being revealed now, that it was the starting point of the inventiveness that has led to much of our mythological literature.  Such people were not inventing their concepts out of thin air, or by a process of conceiving pure fiction as we do, but through their interest and means to explain the structure and operation of the universe as it was apparent to them.

      However, becoming aware of this then it makes a certain amount of sense that people in the past would have been trying to understand what the night sky was, and being able to recognize patterns, shapes, and forms would have produced an even greater interest in attempting to explain them.  How would an ancient person feel if they “saw” a fish or a bird or a squirrel in the stars, would it not appear to be communicating something to them, and perhaps something they should attempt to divine?  The astounding thing is how far the stars, Sun and Moon were not merely stellar objects as we understand them, but were recognized as the very essential powers of the universe.


In its turn I will address specific approaches to identifying ancient constellations, since some derive from mythology, some from mythology and art, and some from art alone.  Each of these approaches provides challenges, but most of them are not mere theoretical offerings but rather offer definitive and unimpeachable proof that such references or depictions were actually constellations and that this can be proven to be scientific fact rather than remain a matter of controversy.

To start to address the approach of identifying ancient constellations, we must first take a look back at ourselves and to recognize how we think and what assumptions factor into our requirements for proof.  One assumption that could be made is that there must be a straight forward means to evaluate whether or not a picture matches star positions.  The assumption seems also to be that the ancient astronomer must have represented the star patterns so that all that is needed is to do a direct overlay of the pictograph with a star chart, and expect an identical match.  If it does not produce an identical match then they presume the idea can be immediately dismissed.

This is perhaps linked to the notion that is often-enough believed by inexperienced observers, that you could take any picture you wanted and find a star pattern that matches it if you look hard enough; and this stated as through the investigator has some need to prove it is a star pattern and thus will accept anything to secure such a proof.  It is unclear why this is said, but skeptical as it is, it also with a healthy dose of cynicism thrown in.  The truth is that people working in paleoastronomy do not see an ancient cave drawing or carving and with some consuming desire to prove it must be a star pattern keep comparing them to stars, tipping them this way and that, until something can be made to match, then just to connect the dots.

      In truth one cannot merely put several stars together to match what you’re looking for.  The night sky presents its own shapes and patterns, so what you must look for are peculiar shapes made up of prominent stars.  Most of the Greek constellations are easy to identify because anyone looking up at the night sky can see them.  Our mind recognizes the patterns, which is why they made an impact on early humans, but one can neither fit any picture to them any more than one should assume that only one figure could be assigned to any of them.  Think of some of the most prominent constellations: Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and Orion.  They attract immediate attention because of their relationship and apparent pattern they create.  It is not surprising that many ancient constellations derive from exactly the same patterns of stars.

For the sake of proving the difference, just for this article I found an image from Lascaux cave and decided to attempt to do a star fit to it (just to illustrate the very thing paleoastronomers might be accused of doing in every instance).  This image is known as the stag and in looking at it the most prominent shape is the triangular shape produced by the eye and two antlers, which I then figured could be made to fit the shape of the Summer Triangle.  Sizing and orienting the two to fit in overlay then proceeded to create a constellation that fits this image.  This is visible in Figure 1, but have we really identified a constellation?  We should not bank on it, because all that was done is to overlay them and then connect the stars along the lines of the figure.  If you looked out at the stars you would not see such a figure in the night sky at this location.  So does this mean that the depiction is not a constellation?  We certainly have not proven it isn’t a constellation, only that it has not been truly identified here.  As for the figure produced here, if it were associated with other figures and that collectively star patterns could be identified we could secure some sort of proof, but alone by itself it cannot, and none of the other figures beyond those on the Lascaux Cave page are obviously constellations as of now.  Merely because there are a few examples of cave art that derive from star patterns does not mean that every one of them is, or that it is possible to overlay them and draw out a star here or a star there that fits.  But if there are other examples that could be identified with star patterns then they certainly should be eventually, and if we know to look for them.


Figure 1.
Example of an artificial fit, that shows little correspondence to actual star patterns


Figure 1a     Figure 1b

Surely without the evidence of documentation for the Greek constellations several people might well doubt that Scorpius actually looks like a scorpion, or that Cassiopeia resembles a reclining lady, but this does not mean that the ancient Greeks did not think they did.  If we held them to the same standards people do for paleo-constellations then we would just as surely dismiss them because the figures do not exactly match the stars and the myths seem to be inventions of pure imagination and fancy.  But, as before, why is this made the criterion for determining whether it is true or not?  There is no reason to adopt such a criterion, so why do many accept it as requisite in order for anything to be proven beyond doubt?

When artistic representations of star patterns are made by humans as artistic depictions, they are not done by merely “connecting the dots”.  One assumption that is seemingly made is as if the ancient person who was representing the stars was creating an accurate star map.  Rather most of them are doing artistic depictions of figures that arise from a constellation; they are showing the figure they have determined it to be.  There are two possibilities; the first is that those who drew the figure knew the existence of the constellation.  However this need not be the case; those who are drawing the picture might be merely copying a well-known or recognized figure, having lost the knowledge that it derived from a star pattern.  We have no way of knowing which in every case.


There are also other issues that arise that can introduce errors into any assessment.  Stars are not identically placed in times of the past, but even several thousand years ago there is very little noticeable change in relative star positions.  Prehistoric comparisons might be benefitted by using a star chart from say 20,000 years ago, if that is when the pictograph was made, but it is actually not essential to make any proper star identifications; a modern star chart is a sufficient first-order approximation for any time within the entire space of human existence.  However, more accuracy and assurance can be lent through the use of accurate star maps from past ages with access to them.

When comparing two pictographs (say a petroglyph with a modern star chart) we also encounter the problem of spatial representation.  Even if the petro glyph is designed to show the accurate position of star locations (which they often do not precisely) the ancient person must represent the stars that were on an apparent celestial sphere onto a two-dimensional surface.  In addition the production of modern star maps also faces the same problem of representing star placements because they must be reproduced from a three-dimensional surface (a virtual dome) onto a two-dimensional one (a circle).  Thus there are two separate occasions where errors will crop in, even if both are attempting to be entirely precise.

Also the assumption could be made that the ancient person was even able to represent the star pattern accurately.  Consider the difficulties involved in properly recording star distances then being able to reproduce them within a cave and drawing a figure accurately according to them.  What value would this have to them anyway?  We should not guess too much about what their requirements were when we have no reason to consider that it was important to them.  It seems reasonable that ancient people had means to copy a star pattern and take it somewhere to reproduce it where the original star pattern would not be visible, such as within a deep cave.  Thus they might be introducing two sources of copying errors themselves.  In addition, it is possible that in some cases the artist is forced to adjust the shape of the figure here and there because there are space limitations or surface deformations that require them to change its proportions.


So often when people criticize and doubt conclusions they do so because they are approaching it with a set of criterion of proof that arise for no valid purpose.  The requirements are based upon the assumptions they have for what is needed to secure proof.  To be skeptical is necessary, but this is already involved in the identification process.  That is, sufficient lines of evidence need to be in agreement for the proof to arise, but not every piece of evidence needs to match.  If you can show an 80% match, then critics will dismiss conclusions because the other 20% is not well explained.  What is thus forgotten is that most often it becomes difficult to explain all that is seen because we lack knowledge of the time and the people, or there is damage or corruption in the depictions.  But even if this is not the case, one cannot disprove the conclusion because of the 20% inconstancy, unless it is so grossly peculiar that it requires some explanation.

Yet theories often explain a portion of the information and it is often what the theory doesn’t explain well and explained away by some means (ex. textual corruption) that provides the basis for its eventual overthrow.  But with graphical representations we are not attempting to explain a meaning or a mindset or sequence or laws of nature but merely of a spatial correspondence, and in this way, just as with pattern recognition algorithms, if you wish to identify a face you look for the essential pattern, trying to make the identification even when the image is not clear (that is, to still be able to recognize a face even when a hand is covering a portion of it).  The same things must be done in identifying constellations.  The schemes and methods that are often used in other scientific fields (such as a degree of correspondence) tends to be off limits when people put forward the requisite proof required that there be total correspondence, with the downside that a failure to do so will unequivocally nullify the conclusions (that is, the exception disproves the rule).


Assumptions come into play both when people are assuming some theories true and come into play when people are showing why a theory is inconclusive, the method to divine whether the proper analysis is being taken is actually a philosophical one, in order to uncover how the conclusion relies upon certain unstated assumptions.  So dismissing all of these bad initial assumptions, what in fact would provide proof that some form of ancient depiction arises from a pattern of stars?  Firstly, we cannot expect to find a number of points and in overlaying a star map (from whatever time we presume the depiction was made) will match identically.  This would be the easiest and clearest proof, perhaps, but it is not the only one.  It means, not that it is impossible to prove, but that you must offer additional evidence to secure this proof, and if proven it then becomes established fact and there is no longer much room for competing theories.

It would be a waste to science if there was no capacity for science to progress, which means that it incorporates means not only to introduce new theories but to put others to rest.  If science operated as many people prefer things to be, any theory that people wanted to keep believing in would still have a place in serious scientific discussions, then science would be a mess of competing truths (rather like our politics).  Every time anything was discussed they would have to listen to all of these other theories come up again and again, by those who lacked the capacity to properly judge and evaluate them merely because they are subjectively inclined to believe in them.

This is what creates a great amount of frustration among many scientists when considering the work of non-scientists or amateurs: that these ideas are supported amongst people when there is still no valid evidence in support of them.  There can also be problems that go the other way, that scientists do not regard the contributions of those outside of their fields, and even make it difficult for them to participate, because they assess that such a very small percentage of it might be of any real value.  Scientists only have limited time and money to address issues and cannot be expected to play the role of public communicators.  It might help if more did, but it appears to hold no sway over what many people actually believe in the end, so might seem like a waste of time.  (But it is true that not all scientists are good scientists, and individual scientists themselves have their own blind spots, cultural assumptions, personal convictions, and lack of access, yet science thankfully does not require that any single scientist is in any way ideal or superhuman.)

Sometimes in presenting the evidence there is often a requirement that arises because people will not perform their own investigation because they would rather have everything spelled out for them, so that they place a great deal more reliance upon the specific analysis put before them than they do to use it as a means to direct them to an answer of their own questions.  Science is an ongoing search and any person at any stage is welcome to take the matter further or to offer corrections and bring more clarity to its conclusions.


So with this let us consider four different instances in order to see how something could be proven conclusively, and in this case it is just good to be cautious, that “proven true” does not mean “entirely understood”.  Merely because an artistic depiction can be proven to be a constellation does not mean that we at all comprehend its meaning or the purpose of representing it on a cave wall or frieze.  Also, it does not mean there is no further room to expand upon or refine it, but it does help to direct the effort in the right direction and hopefully to reduce the amount of wasted effort that would occur as people bring up the same dismissed theories again and again without them offering any new evidence for consideration.

      The four different constellations will be the four deer figures from Norse mythology, the Great Thunderbird constellation from American Indian myth, the Sorcerer figure from a Stone Age cave painting, and the Scorpion and Vulture stone from Gobekli Tepe.  It must be remembered in approaching this that we cannot make too many assumptions about what these people would regard or accept, as though we could speak for them today.  We cannot take on the role of being a judge according to any artificial standards like those outlined above.  The other aspect of it is to need to show that there is no reason to attempt to explain them using star patterns except that this is actually from where they arose.  That is, such proofs are important because they tell us something about our past, not that they serve some purpose for anyone living today.

Nordic Deer


We are going to start our investigation with the Nordic deer constellations.  These are actually rather peculiar compared to other constellations because they are identified only from mythological text and not from some form of pictograph.  In addition, although the deer arise from Norse myth it is not even clear the Norse recognized them as constellations and thus it is more valid to consider them to be Nordic if not more broadly Northern European.

      So how can it be verified that the reference to four deer nibbling on the leaves of the World Tree actually refers to constellations?  The first concept that was useful was the description of the Norse world tree Yggdrasill, and indeed the stars overhead resemble the vast canopy of a tree with the stars looking like fruit hanging on its branches.  However, despite other accommodating evidence, the matching of descriptions alone is not enough to secure proof that the night sky was in fact viewed to be the World Tree in ancient times, although it is at this stage a valid theory based upon corroborating evidence.

      Interestingly it was when making observations of the Perseid meteor shower that I noticed a collection of stars in the northern sky that immediately struck me as looking like a deer, but it was not until the next day that I even considered that there were deer known to be related to the World Tree.  It was not persuasive at first consideration, even though I was quite certain by this time that the night sky was the World Tree, it seemed odd to think that the deer referred to would be high up rather than around the horizon (that is, standing on the ground), yet in checking the reference within the Norse source, the Edda, that the description specifically mentioned that the deer were standing “in the branches” of the World Tree.

      Having identified a first deer I then questioned whether it would even be possible to find three more deer constellations.  Initially it was necessary to do this using star charts, since for the two weeks after the night of August 12 the skies were constantly overcast, so the identifications were made from these until I could check them directly in the sky.  Considering a few different potential candidates for deer, eventually I settled on four and no more than four that resembled deer to be sufficiently and quickly recognizable.  It is of course true that we can never be certain that the four deer thus identified are exactly the same ones that were recognized in ancient times.  Yet the Nordic people also recognized shapes in the Moon that we still recognize today, so the most obvious shapes should most clearly be the appropriate ones.

      Having put this forward, with one of the deer being the very apparent Ursa Major, consideration next fell upon thinking that if the Norse were identifying constellations then they must have come up with one for the “W” shape known to the ancient Greeks and us today as Cassiopeia.  For me this has always been the second-most recognizable pattern of stars next to the Big Dipper.  Immediately it occurred to me that it looked like a squirrel; the Norse squirrel Ratatosk was said to run up and down the roots of the World Tree, and in fact the Cassiopeia constellation lies right upon the Milky Way.  At the base of the tree’s root was to be a serpent Nidhogg, and indeed at this location at the bottom of the Milky Way is the constellation of Scorpius, that can be viewed to have the form of a snake.  One other prominent shape is that of Cygnus the swan.  Going out during the summer and looking straight up will reveal this easily recognizable form.  This was said to be an eagle sitting on its topmost branches, which is where it sits.  It does not take a trained eye to identify these star patterns, and the same stars have been given different names by different cultures through the ages.

      What has happened thus far is that as the investigation proceeded, at every step a new object was required to be there and subsequently found, so all the evidence that was found always pointed towards the same accumulating self-supporting conclusion: that these descriptions within Norse mythology were references to constellations at some time in the past.  What causes difficulty in this particular case is that I have not thus far been able to associate these descriptions of the World Tree and its animal denizens with any Norse gods, which means it cannot be associated with any of the many traditions represented within the mythology, and thus with a specific population from which it may have arisen.  For this reason it is not even sure if they were developed in Nordic areas or elsewhere in Europe or Asia and then imported in at some time.  The choice of animals might be telling and clearly they are constellations visible from northern latitudes (although Scorpius might lie quite low).  It is still possible that more evidence will be forthcoming, either in the form of a means to associate them with a specific Norse god or in discovering some graphical portrayal of them.

It is also not certain which deer name goes with which deer constellation.  There is a possible suggested basis, which has to do with the order in which the names are written: Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, Durathror.  Within Norse myth the name Dain is used in association with elves, Dvalin with dwarfs, and thus it appears that these might be references to deer of smaller size, thus they could be listed from small to large.  It is upon this that the name assignments have been made, but it is still an open issue.

     It is clear that in having identified that the creatures that inhabit the World Tree can be identified as constellations that this also provides corroborating proof that the night sky was the canopy of the World Tree.  (A full discussion of all the evidence is made in the paper Northern Skies on the Mythology page.)  In arriving through the accumulated evidence toward this conclusion there is no question that the descriptions now can be said to be constellations, yet it cannot be known if the stars selected were the exact same ones that were known in the past, in fact there is nothing to say that there was ever only one possible configuration of stars that was accepted.  Ancient societies had no books to guide them and although someone might have at some point represented them in artistic form, there was no such thing as an official set of constellations, like we are encouraged to accept today for the sake of consistency.  There is also nothing to say that within the combined traditions of Norse myth that the same stars might not have been viewed as something entirely different by some other group, and thus we cannot consider these to be the only possible Nordic constellations, but they are the only ones that arise out of the mythology which remains the only source for identifying a set of ancient constellations from northern Europe.

Great Thunderbird


While there is no definitive depiction available, the American Indian thunderbird is a figure which comes out of myth, and is recognizable from its common appearance on modern beadwork.  In fact I have had such thunderbird necklaces since childhood from my early interest in American Indians: the overall shape is fairly well represented as a large bird with two crooked wings that sweep down on either side, a head that is preferentially facing off to its own right, and presenting a large flamboyant tail.

So prevailing upon a July evening for a short stroll on a clear night happened to glance up and above the trees the shape looming in the southern sky caught my attention because it had the same overall shape and characteristics of a thunderbird.  Just a coincidence I thought.  It wasn’t until two weeks later that I even attempted to identify which stars I had seen, but although it clearly resembled the shape and form of the conventional thunderbird that I recognized, I knew nothing substantial about the thunderbirds of myth, nor if there was anything within their descriptions that would suggest that they could clearly be related to star patterns.

      Making a search I came across a common enough myth of the Passamaquoddy Indians that explained the origin of the thunderbird.  What came out of this was a very telling reference to a mountain that opened and closed.  My previous knowledge of mythology suggested that it was descriptive of the Moon’s changing phases.  But then if this was suggested what would be needed was something to verify that this is what was actually meant.  The suggestion came from a detail that of the two warriors who made the passage through the clashing mountain that only one had made it while the other had been crushed within.  This would provide the evidence to look for: a figure on the Moon that looked like a crushed body, and in fact such a figure was located.

      At this point the evidence: the form of the star pattern compared to traditional designs and the verification within the myth were all pointing in the same direction, but through some of my searching I had also identified a very interesting artistic depiction of a thunderbird that was especially so because it came with its own artistic representation of a star.  This pictograph is located in Saskatchewan, far from Maine where the Passamaquoddy Indians live, but apart from the mysterious star, the shape of the bird also follows the same form of the traditional thunderbird of art.  Looking at this figure in red paint we can clearly see that it is shown with two wings and two feet, but it is difficult to assess whether the beak or the crest is pointed to the left or to the right, it could be either.

      Putting the intriguing star aside for the moment, a comparison of the Great Thunderbird star pattern with this particular depiction offers some striking correspondences, beyond the overall shape (assuming the photograph has not been reversed): on the pictograph the bird’s left wing is shown as being lower and its right wing as higher, its right leg is pointed nearly straight down while its left leg is swept off to the side, nearly horizontally.  Thus it is “opened up” on the right side and “closed up” on the left side.  Looking at the Great Thunderbird star pattern the shape holds exactly the same formation, only that it is reversed left for right, the right side is closed up and the left side is opened up.  If the photograph of the Saskatchewan thunderbird has not been reversed then why might the Indians have chosen to show the image this way?  It is not unknown for pictographs to be shown reversed on purpose because they are to be viewed reflecting in a pool of water beneath.  There is reason to believe that such a thing has occurred in this case too.  Yet there is one more important feature yet to consider.

      If what has been presented thus far is not proof enough, with all lines of evidence pointing towards a single conclusion, identifying the star at the tip of the bird’s right wing should secure final proof that the pictograph is representing the star pattern identified as the Great Thunderbird.  The most obvious first suggestion is that this would be a supernova, which have been noticed and recorded in pictures and reports by people around the globe through time.  The American Indians themselves represented other stellar phenomena on rock art, but which supernovae would be located at the correct relative position?  After a great deal of searching and consideration I finally concluded that SN 1006 was the one, so-called because it is known to have exploded in the year 1006 AD, which would make this artistic depiction about 1,000 years old.  Of course the actual position of SN 1006 was under the thunderbird constellation’s left wing, which corresponds to the notion that the artistic representation has been reversed.

There is also something to be added form another thunderbird image from Missouri (which appears to be of the same identical star form), which shows a heart form within the bird’s chest, and this corresponds to stars located within the bird’s chest.  Thus all the lines of evidence lend support and lead to an undeniable conclusion: that a great component of thunderbird mythology and art arose from this particular star pattern.

Scorpion and Vulture Stone


Now let us take the “Scorpion and Vulture” stone from Gobekli Tepe, since this is the stone among those at the site that provides the best example of an arrangement of constellations that is not open to question as are some of the others such as the Great Fox and the Lesser Fox (which are far harder to substantiate due to their being solitary figures, and thus provide little to corroborate the identifications).  Revealing the evidence from the Scorpion and Vulture stone does provide proof that this carving, at least, depicts a number of star patterns, and if this stone then potentially other of the stones do.  All of the evidence is included on the Gobekli Tepe page, yet it is perhaps important to trace the verification more carefully to show that there can be no shadow of doubt about this conclusion.

      The Gobekli Tepe stone is still intact and portrays clear stone reliefs that have been well-photographed enough to ascertain the exact depiction of the original artists.  What then was the reason for associating this with star patterns?  In this case at first I was more than prepared to accept the explanations of the team working at the site, but one thing intrigued me from among all of the stones: the Scorpion with the Vulture.  The reason that this attracted my attention was because of my prior work in identifying the Great Thunderbird constellation, which was a previously unidentified constellation of the American Indian’s mythical bird.  The interesting thing is that the thunderbird constellation sits right above that of Scorpius, and thus recognizing the same placement of a large bird above a scorpion led me to believe that another culture had perhaps identified the same two figures, one above the other.  Now eager to check the star chart, what figures also made an impression on me were the three birds, since the configuration of the odd angle of the bird’s legs matched that of the angle presented by Cygnus and that the three birds appeared to be the three birds of the Summer Triangle.  It then became obvious thus that the upswept wings of the vulture rather appeared to match that of the Pegasus while the scorpion appeared to arise from an entirely new collection of stars.

      So consider the Vulture first, it is not merely the upswept wings that match with the shape of Pegasus, but also the legs off to the right, that terminate midway between the scorpion’s two pincers, each represented by two closely paired stars on either side.  This matches the stone’s relative positions precisely.  The most striking correspondence however comes from the Vulture’s head, the shape of which is actually formed out in the stars that occupy that space, in nearly exactly the same form they are shown on the stone, including the spacing and position of its two eyes.

      Now returning to the Summer Triangle, the two most striking features are the angle of the legs of one bird that matches Cygnus, as previously mentioned, but also the stars of Aquila that form nearly the exact same shape as those shown on the stone, even the bulge in the gullet is represented by a prominently bright star, while the angle of its wings placed before itself and that of Cygnus reveal very odd postures for birds, if not explained by their imitation of the pattern taken from the stars.  (In fact odd postures are as much a clue to finding candidate constellation depictions as are odd assemblages of figures, as are seen on the Gobekli Tepe stones.)

      Then consider this corroboration: the bird neck and head below the scorpion should correspond to exactly the same hook-shape in the stars, this is immediately apparent.  Nearby what appears to be a club tail is clearly representative of a very obvious star circle of the Pisces constellation.

      At this point sufficient evidence has already been provided to prove that this Gobekli Tepe stone is showing star forms that are not just chosen among a number of faint or insignificant stars, but many the very same ones the Greeks used to create their own constellations.  That we can also identify Perseus, Cassiopeia and Hercules set along the great backbone provide added evidence, even if they have been artistically positioned out of place.  We cannot presume to know why the artists chose this depiction or to suggest that if they did not put them in their proper place that they could not to us represent the constellations.  We can only ask ourselves at this point why they might have chosen to present them in this manner.  They have all too obviously been relocated as if to suggest that they are symbolically held upon the “backbone of night”.  To find them out of place does not prove that they are not constellations, nor that they are not the constellations that they must surely be.

      It is thus unreasonable for anyone to take the circular object at the left wing of the central vulture, not yet being identified, as proof that all the other identifications are therefore invalid.  It only shows that this object has yet to be explained, if it ever will be.  Any single discrepancy does not nullify any of the other identifications.  It is also true that the object itself, a mere circle or sphere, defies identification, but clearly it is not meant to represent an animal.  If we could locate the remains of a supernova at that location, one that exploded thousands of years ago, it would not be required to provide final proof, but it would certainly explain the source of this particular object, and what it therefore represents.  It could also perhaps explain the very cause for creating the depiction and the entire theater at Gobekli Tepe.

      There can thus be no question about the identification of constellations on this particular stone.  It would be, against this proof, mistaken to hold any other theory as valid, especially when no other theory put forward so far has anything behind it but speculation based upon very generalized guesswork.  Here to go against hard evidence is hardly good scientific methodology.  Enough here has been shown to secure the proof that this stone at Gobekli Tepe represents star patterns, thus there is no reason to think that the other stones do not, in some regard, also represent star patterns, even if they do not reveal themselves with such clarity as the Scorpion and Vulture stone.  The discussions of these other stones are available on the Gobekli Tepe page.

The Sorcerer


Now at last let us consider the Trois-Freres “Sorcerer” cave painting.  Some paleoanthropologists have attempted to draw conclusions about what it can tell us about the beliefs and rituals of the Stone Age society that created it.  This has been the prevalent approach and still all of the explanations tend to revolve around the notions that this is a shaman or some form of hybrid creature, although these speculative theories have not been able to gather any firm support, not even to draw forth a most likely conclusion.

How can we thus conclude so surely that it is in fact a constellation?  First, there must be a recognition that merely because other theories have been around longer or have become widely accepted makes them no more valid than ones that have been recently introduced.  Mass belief in an idea has never given it any strict validity to claim supremacy over any following ideas.  They are relying upon this to give it weight rather than any evidence they have to support it themselves, thus they favor an established theory based upon weak or non-existent evidence merely because it is widely held rather than one that presents valid and verifiable evidence but is new and perhaps shocking in its implications.  In fact it becomes even more difficult when the scant evidence that does exist has gone into shaping our idea of what the people were like, and perhaps too much reliance is sometimes put upon these ideas before they have been sufficiently verified.

So although the evidence for the Sorcerer is presented on the Lascaux Cave page (while it is actually to be found in the Trois-Frere cave), let us show now why the evidence is verifiable.  But first we need to present one very difficult element involved in the identification of this particular piece of cave art: that there are essentially two sources for what the sorcerer figure looks like.  One is the actual painting as it looks today and the other is a famous drawing of it made by Henri Breuil.  The difficulty is that the figure as it is seen today does not so much resemble the drawing that was made of it in the early 20th century, especially the absence of the antlers, and some have questioned whether Breuil might have added these to fit his own ideas.  Thus there is dispute today as to exactly what the figure actually looked like.

How then do we get from this figure to a star pattern, what are the hints that lead us to this suggestion?  Identifying this figure for the first time as being a constellation began from the analysis work of Gobekli Tepe; the Great Lion stars reminded me of something but I couldn’t remember what, and it was not until the following morning that the bowed posture I recalled was that of the famous Sorcerer drawing.  This led to a comparison of an image I could get my hands on with the same star pattern on a modern star chart.  The overlay of this is shown on the Lascaux page, but consider the correspondences and curious implications.  First, the stars Castor and Pollux which make up the “owl-like” eyes, the curve of stars that match the back, Orion’s bow form that matches the tail, the Orion belt matching the knees, with Rigel as the heel star.  That is the figure matches each of these exactly when overlaid.  There is one other interesting thing, the sudden realization that the enigmatic antlers are represented in the stars, thus verifying Breuil’s depiction of it, indicating that the painting has degraded from his time to ours (which has happened to much of the cave art just in the past 100 years after remaining largely intact for thousands of years).

It is true that the front limbs do not match the drawing so well.  However this could arise from any of the transcription problems: the original artist or Breuil’s copying under low light, as others have suggested is the case.  In fact the photograph appears to put them closer to their proper place.  What is surprising is that, given the difficulties with selecting an accurate 2D representation of the art, that it still matches so precisely.  Therefore there is nothing that could be used to criticize the identification.  In addition to the figure itself, there are the points that appear to be chiseled just above the figure (it is perhaps possible that such marks locate star points too beneath the Sorcerer paint).  These correspond to the stars of Auriga.  This only adds additional but unnecessary evidence in support of the identification.

There is only one conclusion thus to draw: that the Sorcerer image derives from the star pattern around Orion, which means that any other theory that has been put forward to explain the figure must now be abandoned.  But one thing that it tells us about the people who made it is that they placed enough importance in this star pattern to identify it in the way that they did.  For the star pattern was only a collection of dots in the night sky, the humans translated this into a chimeral figure out of their own imagination.  It is possible then to speculate that this might have actually inspired imitation and thus shamanistic practices might have arisen because they were done in imitation of figures in the sky which they identified as having significance.

It is not known how the image was “transcribed” from stars to the cave; whether it was copied onto a piece of hide before being painted on the cave wall, whether it was done from memory, or whether a far more elaborate means was used to capture the star positions accurately and project them onto the cave wall, chiseling them in to get the proportions correct before the painter put charcoal to rock.

While there is nothing that glaringly identifies any of them as stars, such a thing is not a requirement to secure proof.  There might be other objections that could be put forward, but at this point it seems none of them would serve any purpose than to permit them to hold onto not only the speculations they held before but all of the conclusions they drew from them about what the image meant.  None appear to have offered anything in the way of evidence to support them in any case.



In considering that these have now been identified as constellations, every other theory that has been put forward can only be regarded as having been superseded.  However, a large number of such speculative theories, often lacking evidence of any kind, are still the established explanations that are most often accepted.

Surely it seems that many would be disappointed to know that the Bull Leaper fresco from Knossos is not telling us anything about the social circumstances of the people there.  In fact the widely held view is still that it is representing an acrobatic performance (and in fact it could, since there is no reason to believe that the recognition of the constellation would not encourage attempted imitations of them on earth), or the Sorcerer figure is not evidence of shamanism (although recognizing the figure might have been a source of inspiration for the development of shamanistic practices), or those who believe the Thunderbird was a surviving species of teratorn impressive for its size (which has never been verified in any case).  These other explanations have been around longer it is true, but it is good for those who tend to promote them to evaluate whether they are willing to criticize the theories they accept as far as they will those they do not.  If they did they might recognize that they support theories that have no evidence whatsoever in favor of them.  But scientists cannot hold onto ideas that have no supporting evidence, no matter how much they might be fond of them.  It does not mean they cannot go on looking for more evidence if they believe it is worth the expenditure of time and effort.

      There is such a thing as being skeptical, that most scientists introduce into their own work, and then there are those who are so skeptical they will not accept anything unless it is stated in no uncertain terms, without requiring them to follow the lines of evidence themselves.  But it is not the way of science to dictate the truth to people, it is only the way of science to present the best that can be provided at any moment, figuring that some of it will surely stand, some of it will be modified, and some of it will be dismissed.  But on the whole the accumulated knowledge becomes better and better over time.

      It is just as important to question facts as theories, only because what people often propose to be facts might derive from a number of assumptions they introduce into their interpretations and conclusions without realizing it, and theories are always a best attempt at any time in any case.  But this does not mean that one theory is just as good as any other theory until one can be proven factual with metaphysical certitude, rather some theories are better than others and deserve to hold an exclusive place when the evidence is strongly in its favor.  Any remaining doubt is no cause to open up the doors to give equal validity to anything that is also put forward to explain it, each itself held to with unsubstantiated evidence, discredited evidence, or no evidence at all.