The Lascaux Paintings: A Window into Ancient Astronomy

According to mainstream science, the Babylonians were the first to develop a system of astronomy, beginning around 3,000 BC. However, the Lascaux cave art, dated to around 14,500 BC, paints a different picture.

The scene depicts a man standing next to a bison, and a peculiar bird on a pole behind him. Scholars interpret this painting as a scene of a hunt, or as a form of primitive hunting magic. However, this could also be one of the earliest representations of the constellations we still use today.

A few more similarities

Orion, just like the Lascaux hunter was often depicted with an erect phallus, or sometimes a sword or a dagger. Also, there are seven dots in the Lascaux painting, right above the bison, and where the Pleiades shold be.


Moreover, Lascaux hunter is not the only representation of Orion that is this ancient. A similar depiction can be found at the lower end of pillar 43 in Gobekli Tepe. This representation shows an ithyphallic man with one arm raised, but the head is omitted. Scholars have suggested that this omission may symbolize his death. However, another interpretation is that this depiction accurately mirrors the shape outlined by the Orion constellation, where the figure has a neck but no head.

The presence of other constellations in the same scene, namely Scorpio and Aquila (the eagle), further confirms that we are indeed dealing with astronomical imagery that is approximately 12,000 years old.

Enter Dendera Zodiac

The Egyptian Zodiac of Dendera is about 2,000 years old. Yet, we see a very similar “hunting” scene, together with a bird on a pole.

The constellations of the Dendera zodiac have been identified. The man is none other than the god Osiris, and he represents the constellation Orion, the hunter. The bison is the Taurus constellation. Further back, we see the goddess Isis, represented as a cow with a star (Sirius) above her head. The bird on a pole in is a benu bird.

The benu bird is a mythical bird in Egyptian mythology that is often associated with the sun god Ra. The benu bird was said to be reborn from its own ashes, and it was a symbol of resurrection and renewal.

In the Dendera Zodiac, the benu bird is depicted on a pole that is topped with a lotus flower. The lotus flower is a symbol of the sun rising in the east, and it is also a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

Sirius rising

It is hard to say what was the astronomical event that the hunter-gatherers of Lascaux wanted to portray, but in case of ancient Egypt, the symbolism is pretty clear.

The rising of Sirius, also known as the heliacal rising, is the first time that the star Sirius becomes visible above the eastern horizon just before sunrise.

In Egypt, Sirius’s heliacal rising was a very important event. The ancient Egyptians believed that the appearance of Sirius in the sky signaled the start of the Nile River’s annual flood, which was essential for agriculture. The Egyptians also believed that Sirius was associated with the goddess Isis, who was the goddess of fertility and childbirth.

The date of Sirius’s heliacal rising in Egypt is approximately July 19th. This is because the Earth’s orbit around the Sun causes the stars to appear to move in a circle around the sky. As the Earth orbits the Sun, Sirius appears to move higher and higher in the sky. On July 19th, Sirius appears to rise just before the sun, marking the beginning of the Egyptian New Year.


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