THE ARCHEOLOGICAL-ASTRONOMICAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPEL OF THE LIONS AND THE RHINOS OF CHAUVET IN RELATION TO THE ONES OF THE CIRCLE OF NABTA PLAYA AND OF THE CHAMBER OF THE QUEEN
To Laura, who has been light
during the dark years
Quelquefois je vois au ciel des plages sans fin
couvertes de blanches nations en joie.
Un grand vaisseau d’or, au-dessus de moi,
agite ses pavillons multicolores sous les brises du matin.
1. Maybe, the most useful example to start our research are some recent sacred structures still relatively close to our way of perceiving the world, such as the vault of the cathedrals or of the byzantine baptisteries, or the one of the baroque cathedrals. Nowadays, one enters this type of structures through a small door obtained in a wide monumental entrance that now is nearly always closed. Then, after a quite long straight path, we get to a vault that stands above the altar, in which the sky is represented. The image of the sky that we can contemplate there, doesn’t of course correspond at all to the modern astronomical representations that describe it as an immense space without a center and in rapid expansion, in which the chance has spread masses of gas that burn at very high temperatures that maybe only as a tradition we still call “stars”. On the contrary, at the time in which these vaults were built, outer space still had a center and a structure made of skies (or to be more precise “spheres”) that rotated round it. The highest sky, the one usually represented in the vaults, was usually conceived as a sort of static motor, who caused the rotation of the below ones. At one time, people believed that this supreme Sky, was inhabited by divine or divined entities (the three people of the Trinity, the Evangelists, Saints, blessed, angels and archangels), that in the Baroque and Byzantine vaults offer themselves to the contemplation full of hope of them who, still living, try to enter in spiritual contact with that eternity in which he sees his future blessing after the short and stormy passage of this earthly life. In this kind of sacred structures, the splendor of the divine and of the eternal life is very often emphasized by the abundance of gold and plating of all sorts, to an extent in which gold resembles a divine substance through which the subjects emerge as if for magic, still remaining deeply soaked and confused in it (in the antique Egyptian statuesque, we notice a similar aesthetic interest, even if the material is different from gold: in fact, it happens very often that the figures engraved in stone remain in part confused in it; this fact seems to suggest that that divine substance represented by gold in the baroque and byzantine times, in the antique Egyptian sacred architecture was represented by stone). In the Byzantine and Baroque Cathedrals the prevalence of gold was an aesthetic effect that was very often reinforced with a kind of glass-wall which allows a white-yellowish or/and brown light to filter through, leading the eye to knead in a gestaltic way the forms and the colors with the gold and the plating. Even nowadays, when the sacred building are preserved in a good condition, and the lighting employed remains the original one, this effect can still be contemplated in all its aesthetic, religious and meta-physic intensity.
2. It’s almost obvious that the sky represented in the Byzantine or Baroque vaults, even if not in relation with the “realistic” Weltanschauung of any modern western person (for example an astronomer or a person of basic culture) it does not have, at least it seems so, not even any relation with the way in which it was viewed by the antique or ancestral cultures such as the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians or the Mayas. All people that like the Christians in the Byzantine or Baroque time, considered the sky the abode of the divine. A first and obvious difference is the fact that this people thought that the divine world was composed by a multiplicity of Gods and not by an absolute God: but this difference seems really irrelevant compared to another, which appears much more radical and fundamental. In fact, these ancient cultures conceived the celestial entities that we can observe in the nocturnal and diurnal sky (such as sun, moon, stars and planets), as real Gods in the strictly literal and realistic meaning. As much as for the Mayas as for the Ancient Egyptians, the Sun, for example, was not to be considered as a God broadly speaking or in a metaphorical way, but in an immediate and direct way: to see the Sun was literally to see the God. The same concept applied to whatsoever celestial deified body, may it be a star, a constellation, the moon or a planet. To cite an example that closely concerns the aim of this article, we can say that the ancient Egyptians literally believed the constellation of Orion to be the God Osiris, the God of death and resurrection. Whomever astronomer-priest of that time would never dare to think what today all astronomers and men of average western culture believe, that is to say that this constellation, like all the others, is nothing more than a group of stars more or less arbitrarily and conventionally separated from the others, to give a whatsoever order to the chaos of the starry sky, in which from a first sight it appears at all impossible to orientate oneself and in which it is difficult to distinguish one entity from the other. This immediate deification of the celestial bodies, from a point of view of a Christian person in the Byzantine time, probably looked like a blasphemy (mistake the creature with its creator). While, during the Baroque age, this kind of belief, instead of a threat to the truth of faith and reason, would have seemed much more like a folly worthy of a barbaric mind, the result of a chronic underdevelopment or of a genuine racial inferiority (the Indios worshipers of the Sun were judged soulless and reduced to slavery with the same naturalness and good faith as the Classical Greeks did with the prisoners of war. In all probability, their religious beliefs, their rituals and their idols were seen as a sign of their closeness to the animal and demoniac world of instincts rather than to the human one). Maybe, none of today’s scientists would dream to think and less probably to write that the people that we call “primitives” are soul less. However there’s no doubt that almost every scientist and people of average culture who were put under pressure, would feel forced to label whichever kind of belief regarding stars and planets as a superstition, if that belief would describe them as something different from what they really are: a chaotic mass of chemical substances. Among the astronomers there are with no doubt ardent Christians, but even them have surely radically changed their opinion regarding the nature of the sky and of the universe, compared to what people of their same faith believed some century ago. In fact, if we take Dante’s Divine Comedy as an example of the ancient Christian cosmology, we notice that in relation to that time things are very much changed. Nowadays, Theology doesn’t locate any more God and the divine world in a place in space beyond the fixed stars and, in general, the unseen is considered a purely spiritual field, totally and absolutely unknowable. Even if we are still dealing with a divine space, it still has to do with a radically “different” space, this is to say a space out of space. Undoubtedly it has nothing to do with a continuation of the one in which we move every day, that has totally and radically been secularized by modern science. In this space, where everything is measurable and calculable, there cannot be any privileged place where we can legitimately put the three people of the Trinity, the Angels and the Archangels, the Saints and the Blessed. This scientific cosmology was recently fully acknowledged by the Catholic Church, that with Giovanni Paolo II judged the Big Bang theory suitable to the story of the Genesis: and this cosmology excludes the idea that the Earth or any other place in space could be considered the center of the Universe. But if we exclude the center, inevitably, we have to exclude also all the other celestial spheres that at one time we thought to rotated round it, including the one of the fixed stars, where above it they used to locate God and all the creatures near him.
3. If we want to see things through an evolutionist point of view, it becomes obvious to assign to the “wild”(this is to say a man who has just come out from his “state of wilderness”) the naïve belief that the Earth is the center of the Universe, and that the Sky is the abode of the divinities, represented as animals or as half human half animal creatures. This figures were projected on the sun, moon and planets or maybe “inspired” by groups of stars that suggested in more or less direct way their form, real or fantastic. But even if starting from a so “primitive” knowledge of the cosmos, slowly but relentlessly, man “evolves”. Even if still considering the Earth as the center of the Universe, with the Classical Greek paganism we nearly completely cease to consider the entities that we see in the sky as divinities. So, for example, those same Gods that at one time were immediately identified with the planets, had become in Aristotle’s time, very similar to the human beings, even if immortal and much more powerful (In this regard Aristotle writes that “at one time we believed that Gods were planets”). The abode where these God reunited was in turn close and reachable, the peak of a sacred mount, no longer the inaccessible sky. Moreover they were no longer identified as celestial bodies but as terrestrial, natural or artificial entities (a spring or a tree were considered divinities, but also a door or a fireplace could be considered so: in practice, every terrestrial entity was considered in some way a god). The celestial entities had in this way already lost a great part of that enormous importance that they had assumed in the deep history of mankind. Actually, talking in evolutionist terms, we can consider the Classical Greek paganism as the first step accomplished by mankind towards a radical desertion of the religion founded on the adoration of celestial bodies and cycles that in the past had to be absolutely universal. With the Christian religion, this radically “humanistic” and therefore pantheistic concept of divinities introduced by the Classical Greek paganism is abandoned, and the sky resumes the important role of abode of the divine. In fact, a Paradise situated beyond the sky of the fixed stars, still gives a good idea of the transcendence without losing that realism necessary to a man that we suppose still not enough “evolved” to conceive the divine in a totally spiritual way. But this renewed interest of Christianity for the sky does not cause the sun, the stars, the moon and the planets to regain any true theological importance. God both as a single entity and as trinity is a spiritual and transcendent entity, that comes before the world and doesn’t born together with it as happens in the ancient religions, that look rather radically pantheistic. For example, in the ancient Egyptian vision before Atum – the supreme divinity – there was the nothingness, and the myth doesn’t permit us to comprehend if Atum was created from the same Nothingness, intending “Nothingness” in the sense of a primordial goddess (like is mentioned in the Tao, where we find that the Nothingness generated the One), or if he magically appears in it by self-generation. The other Gods of the Ennead come from Atum who as first thing generates a couple of Gods who then will procreate others from whom in the end will born the man. But we must say that the man didn’t have any central place in the creation, since the ancient Egyptians thought that there were animals much more close to the divine than any human being, with the exception of the Pharaoh: similar to what happens today in India with cows, or in other parts of Asia with monkeys or even with rats. On the contrary, the God of Christianity exists before and independently from the Cosmos. If it’s true that he created the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets, neither him nor anyone of his angels can be identified with them, or with whatever creature perceptible with senses, except obviously for Christ, who inhabited the world in a human shape, but for only 33 years, and unlike Dionysus he is not meant to be repeat this experience. Moreover, in the Christian religion, man has an absolute central importance in the creation, and the celestial bodies have to the eyes of God much minor importance than man. In the Gospel in fact, even the most humble of human beings appears to be created with a soul destined to last for eternity, while sun, moon, stars and planets are meant to dissolve at the end of times. Of course, in hindsight, in the Byzantine and Baroque chapels we can still find vague traces of the ancient importance of the celestial bodies and of the calendars connected to them. The twelve apostles seem to symbolize the twelve months of the year and therefore the twelve signs of the zodiac; the Holy Trinity reminds the three polar stars. Moreover in many ways we find the number seven, clear allusion of the lunar week (in the Cathedral of S. Vitale in Ravenna, Christ is represented with seven subjects on the right and seven on the left: probably is a numerological allusion to the cycle of the lunar phases). Also notable is the fact that the Byzantine Holy Trinity representations remind almost automatically to the three polar star. The three sticks that the figures hold in hand in the picture below seem nothing more than the polar axes corresponding to each one of the three stars that, in the course of the about 26.000 years of a precessional cycle, appear as the center of rotation of the starry sky. Allusions to the precessional cycle also seem to appear in the icon representing St. Michael, whose spear seems to indicate the tilt of the Earth’s axis in relation to the ecliptic pole. Neither it seems that we can explain the outstretched arms of the Archangel, except as a symbol of the circular path of the Earth’s axis around the one of the ecliptic pole .
But, as we have already seen, with an additional evolution of the scientific thought, all these allusions to the ancient astronomy and astrology completely vanish away. Moreover, in the modern Christianity, the Sky described by physics is destined to lose even the let’s say “geographical” role of Paradise. This, in a certain sense, appears obvious: in a Cosmos that has lost its center, where in a Cartesian subdivision every point is equivalent to another, no one can seriously theorize that a place can be the privileged abode of the divine. In fact, relatively speaking (obviously here we are referring to Einstein’s relativity and not to the cultural relativism) every observation point is equivalent to another, therefore every star or galaxy is equivalent to another. It’s clear that at this point, we cannot spatially collocate God anymore in the “Height of the Skies”, if space doesn’t know neither the height nor the below, nor whichever other objective point of orientation. Today, with all our knowledge in the field of physics and astronomy, it seems to us absolutely incredible that for an indeterminate number of millenniums, human beings had considered absolutely obvious the fact that the Earth was the center of the Universe and that the Sky and the celestial entities where seen even as Gods. The issue that we are dealing with in this article is exactly this: for how many millenniums this belief had carried on? This is to say: for how many millenniums it has existed? For how long and for how much astronomy and theology have been complementary knowledge, or nearly synonyms?
4. The reader by now will have surely guessed from the title that the answer that we give in this article to these fundamental questions is radical. With this work, we want to demonstrate that the mathematized astronomy, conceived as a contemplation of the divine, has been carried on for at least many ten-thousand years, and that for the moment we are not able to suppose the initial point of this tradition. Entering in further details, our idea is that already in the time of Chauvet, that is round 30-3200 AC., the nocturnal horizon as well as the diurnal one were carefully investigated and accurately described (here “accurately” obviously means: geometrically) and that this had already been happening by many thousands of years. This means that even tens of thousands of years ago men were perfectly conscious of the cyclic changes of the nocturnal sky, connected with the precession of the equinoxes. The aim of this article is, in a more specific way, to demonstrate that the so called “Chapel of the Lions and of the Rhinos” has a thelogical-astronomical meaning – so to speak – equal and opposite to the one of the Chamber of the Queen, which is situated inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. The first convenient step to take, to proceed in the analysis, is to observe in which point of the caves this so ancient site, maybe one of the most paramount pictorial expressions that the Paleolithic culture left us in inheritance, is collocated, and the way it is oriented.
As we can see, the Chapel of the Lions and of the Rhinos, that in this map is called “End Chamber”, is situated to the northern extremity of the complex of caves which is named after is discoverer – Jean-Marie Chauvet. The first thing that should be noticed is a quite obvious fact, so obvious that is usually omitted by those whom deal with sites like this, that’s to say that to venture into the bowels of the earth for nearly five-hundred meters turns out to be a challenge of a certain importance, even for a fully equipped speleologist of our time. Today, the very small number of admitted visitors can access the cavern through artificial paths and with the aid of electric light, with the absolute certainty of not losing the sense of orientation and making bad encounters. Yet, even in this way, venturing into these rocky bowels of the earth is described as an experience that can reveal itself as very unsettling, if not really terrifying. So, it’s easy to imagine that to venture oneself without the comfortable supports offered by the modern technology, must have been a very remarkable endeavor, in addition to the magnificence of the paintings that were later on executed. In fact we have to consider that at that time the caves, in addition of representing a danger on itself, where certainly populated by bears and presumably lions of the caverns, dreadful enemies everywhere, but particularly menacing in an environment of this kind. In fact, during a possible combat, these and other similar predators, on this slippery and sometimes steep and uneven soil of the caves, had the fundamental advantage of having twice the number of supporting points of a man. Even in difficult conditions as these, for a four-footed is nearly impossible to lose balance, something that instead can easily happen to a biped. Moreover, given that bears and lions didn’t have to handle weapons, they didn’t have them as an hindrance, or didn’t have the fear of losing them. The conditions of absolute darkness gave ulterior advantage to these animals, that used to orientate themselves with hearing and sense of smell, while man who avails himself of sight as his fundamental sense, at that time didn’t have other means of lighting, except for the uncertain one of torches. Because of this, no person with a little bit of common sense, and in particular an historian, an anthropologist or a paleontologist, can even conjecture that cultural evolved human beings could be thrown in a so terrifying adventure without having a very serious aim. The aesthetic level of the paintings that have been found in these caves is so high that no one could think that the ones who had traced them were “stupid savages”, thoughtless ones that venturing in those abysses didn’t have a clue of the risks that they might encounter. If these risks were in every case dealt with, we must inevitably imagine that a very important or to better say, sacred aim was at stake for them. This is a really arduous thought for a modern intellectual, because nowadays we are at all incapable of believing that a human being would risk his bodily life for aims that regard the life of the soul (a word that, in the prevailing consumerist clamor, has probably lost every real meaning, at least at a common level). Still, it would be sufficient to think about the not so far away in time event of the Crusades to realize that in the past, what now will look like a folly, or anyway like a quite extraordinary exception, was on the contrary the most obvious of rules. Those thousands of nobles of northern Europe that traveled thousands of kilometers to go and fight, dressed with tens kilos of iron, made red-hot by the sun that got frequently round fifty grades, did not do it for aims that now we would judge “rational”, this is to say to catch some “benefit” (also because, whatever benefit would become useless when we are dead). They did it simply because they firmly believed that the lands that they went to conquer were sacred, and that their sacredness had to be defended with weapons. Even the most splendid monuments that we find in the Christian tradition weren’t raised for reasons that had to do with some “practical usefulness”. For example, Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, a real miracle of proportions and decorative-architectonic elaboration, wasn’t requested by the potent of the place to confirm in this way their power (this is the “rational aim” that we often confer to monuments like Pyramids): it was requested by the folk, to thank the Virgin Mary for the victory upon the Saracens. In general, none of what is beautiful, big and important that we can find in the present moment or in the past has anything to do with any kind of “usefulness”, or “practical uses”. The glory has never nothing to do with the useful, but, on the contrary, with the divine, this is with religious beliefs. For example, the most widespread religion of our time is the “faith in progress”. And it’s precisely this faith that “explains” the production of electronic gadgets or cars with monstrously exorbitant performances compared to the real needs of the ones who buy them, not their presumed “utility” (especially if we think that using a modern car at the 50% of its capacities in a daily circumstance represents a very serious crime, that in some cases will lead one straight to jail).
5. So, the Paleolithic men didn’t venture in the caverns of Chauvet and in the others that were later on painted by chance. In contrary, these caves were consciously and intentionally explored. In the depth of them they searched for something: but what? Instead of proceeding by hypothesis founded on the attitude of modern man, let’s go and look at what these people have found (or they think that they have found) in what has been called the Chapel of the Lions and the Rhinos. Entering, approximately in the center of the hall, there is a rocky prong in the form of a stalactite. In the below map it is indicated with the name of “The Sorcerer” because of the figure that has been traced in it and that we are going to analyze in detail. This rocky prong is situated in front of a crypt surrounded by rather enigmatic paintings, that which in the below image is called “Panel of Lions and Rhinos”.
The figure that is painted on the rocky prong, that in the image below is called “The Sorcerer”, is very often defined as a Minotaur, given that, as we can see below, if its genital organs seem unquestionably the ones of a woman, it seems as well certain that they were placed between the legs of what can seem a bull (or maybe a bison).
If we look attentively at it, we see that the strange form that this figure assumes, is due to the fact that this Minotaur is not represented in front or by profile, but while he’s about to twist himself with his torso around the stone on which he is painted (actually, looking more attentively, we can have the sensation that the Minotaur is twisting on himself, or, more precisely, that he is rotating with his torso, around his hind legs and his genitals). In fact, as we can well see from the series of the three photos, the left hind leg that we can certainly ascribe to the Minotaur, is identical to the other, in which in the intersection with the other leg is been collocated the female sex that realistically should be found between the hind legs. So in this painting, we seem to encounter also this peculiarity, or this other paradox: that the sex of the creature is represented between a hind leg that has remained still and a front one that together with the torso, has twisted around the stone. It looks like that we can be certain that both the legs belong to the Minotaur, because we cannot recognize other animal or human figures in the painting to whom ascribe them. In fact, the lion that we see in the right photograph, that also seems to have something to do with the Minotaur, has the legs correctly positioned under the neck (even if they are vaguely outlined). Therefore, the only possible way to interpret this figure is this: that the Minotaur is represented as an entity that twists on itself or around the stone on which it is painted, rotating in anti clockwise sense ( taking as a point of reference the peak of stone viewed from below). At this point, any archeologist-astronomer will have heard a familiar tune, given that this is precisely the sense of rotation of the precession of equinoxes. We are encouraged in this interpretation also by the form of the stone, that particularly in its last part, has a definite conical form, so that it can be easily compared to a spindle, an object that more than once has served as a mythical metaphor of the rotation of the polar axis (so also of the polar stars) around a center that remains unchanged, to which no star corresponds. Putting the images next to each other, the comparison that on an intellectual abstract level can seem absurd, from the visual point of view it appears finally even obvious.
The hypothesis that this rock together with the Minotaur that is painted on it, represents the “spindle” of the precession, becomes essentially obvious in the moment in which we try to give a sense to the lions and the rhinos that we see painted on the left part of the crypt that is situated exactly west of the Minotaur. In fact, the figures that we see in the panoramic photograph below, in hindsight, do not seem to portrait a variety of similar animals, but instead only one lion and one rhino represented while moving, through a sequence of what today we would certainly call “frames”
6. Let’s try to analyze the lion and the rhino at the left of the crypt. Their trajectory, – by the “naturalistic” point of view – appears very strange, if not even completely absurd. Instead from the astronomical point of view it appears very familiar. Looking at the below image, we could have a clearer idea of what we are talking about
The lion on the left of the crypt, maybe with a little bit of fantasy, could be interpreted in a naturalistic way, as a lion while is lifting almost timidly his head again. Instead, the movement described by the rhino, seems completely unnatural, like his posture that in many “frames” appears unnatural too. This rhino, like nearly all the other figures that we can find in Chauvet, seems to float weightless and with no foothold, like a balloon of a fair, in a setting that surely doesn’t seem the ordinary one. Besides, the sequence of his positions causes him to appear like he is about to “dive” towards the bottom, rotating on its hind part. For a rhino, this is certainly a very strange fact, that appears even more strange, when we notice that once arrived to the lowest point of his “dive”, the animal seems to start “reemerging”; not with the aid of his legs, but as if he was dragged by the force of the pressure of a liquid in which he has dived in, and not by the force of its legs (here comes in mind the biblical God while separating the water above Earth from those underneath: maybe these waters are nothing more than a metaphor of the cosmic space, and so the rhino could be thought as an heavenly entity floating in the sky, in the same sense of the Ancient Egyptian Sun God Ra, who crossed the sky by means of a divine boat, that’s to say floating). The strangeness of this representation is enhanced in the second “frame”, in which he is represented in this movement of “reemergence”: the animal turns on himself on the opposite side, as if wanting to underline the reversal of direction of his movement. The impression of enigmatic or even of absurdity that this painting emanates, starts to attenuate only if we go and look at the arch drawn as much as by the lions as by the rhinos. This arch is extraordinarily near to those approximately 45°-47° of apparent oscillation that the stars perform in the horizon in the half of a precessional cycle, this is circa 1300 years.
Hans Georg Bandi, emeritus Professor of the Berna University, in his article titled “An extraordinary look to the Chauvet Cave”notice that the felines represented in the famous French caves (that are all cave lions, except one) are exactly 72. This is the duration in solar years of which is traditionally called a Precessional Day, equal to 26000 : 360 = 72,222 solar years. Maybe at this point there will be someone willing to accept that this is something more than a mere chance. Maybe, it is not even a case that the mammoths are 66, just like the parts in which the Old Testament is divided, and neither is that the horses are 40, that once again it is one of the more significative number of the Old Testament. Inside the crypt around which these figures of lions and rhinos move in a so unnatural way, we can see a horse, whose gallop goes in an opposite direction to the one of the Minotaur; the Minotaur that in our interpretation represents the “spindle” drawn in the sky by the movement of the polar axis around the one of the ecliptic. It can be seen in the panoramic photograph of the fresco that we have seen here above, but we can see it even better in this below one.
A possible archeological-astronomical hypothesis is that this horse represents the sun that every year travels the zodiac in the opposite direction of the one of the precession. This hypothesis is furthermore consolidated by the fact that in this same chapel we find a painting that seems to represent a horse with four different types of coats. And it has been noticed by more than one person that every part of the coat could represent a symbol of a different season of the year. We can observe this painting in the below image.te
The fact that the horse could be a solar symbol, and so of the Cosmos that dies and reborn following the rhythm of the sun, is confirmed also by one of the texts of most ancient wisdom of which the oral tradition has passed the text. Very unlikely, someone would be able to investigate the depths of its origins. In the first verses of the Upanisad we find written:
The head of the sacrificial horse is, verily, the dawn, his eye is the sun, his breath is the wind, his jaws are the fire Vaiśvānara, the body of the sacrificial horse is the year, his spine is the sky, his stomach is the atmosphere, his abdomen is the earth, his two hips are the cardinal directions, his ribs are the intermediate directions, his bowels are the seasons, his junctures are the months and the fortnights, his legs are the day and the night, his bones are the fixed stars and his flesh is the clouds. The semi-digested food is the sand, his veins are the rivers, his liver and the lungs are the mountains, his hairs are the herbs and the trees. His front half is the rising sun, his hind part is the setting sun; when he opens his mouth the flashes dart; when he shakes his head, the thunder resonates; when he urinates it rains. His same nitrite is verily the Voice.
These words are usually dated back not more than one or two thousand years BC, but we cannot say that this hypothesis corresponds to an historic truth. We are accustomed to live in a world which is projected towards the future, where the preservation of the past is a sort of collecting passion concerning objects or thoughts that have no vitality at all (the word “museum” comes from the Greek “place sacred to the Muses”: but in reality the museums are exactly the opposite of this, that is a sort of cemetery of the Muses). But own to the western mania for the historical collecting, we have ubiquitous testimonials of ancient civilizations where the past was seen as the abode of a lost Golden Era, where every change was seen as a sign of decay, and where the preservation of the tradition coincided with the same life. Therefore civilities completely unaware of the idea of a progress in which the past is continually overcome, continuously projecting itself towards a future that in its thoughts has already overcome the present in which we still live. Under these circumstances, it is not impossible that this verses of the Upanisad would come from such temporal depths much more ancient than the ones testified by the painting of Chauvet.
7. Following this line of interpretation, we could suppose that the crypt with the horse that runs in an anticlockwise way, that is located at the west, represents this cardinal point not in an “objective” way (“objective” in the sense of a conventional abstract geographic entity), but in a mythological way, this is as a “door” through which the sun (and the whole cosmos, following the upanisadic interpretation of the horse as symbol of a universe in a perennial, cyclic mutation), while it enters in the underworld. Particularly, the sunset at the autumn equinox could be lived as a sort of annual death of a deified sun, given that from then on the hours in which it appears at the horizon starts to be lesser than the hours in which it remains below the horizon (that is, talking in mythological terms, in the underworld). This change in the equinox between the diurnal time and the nocturnal one could have been interpreted in a religious way, let’s say as a victory of the power of the obscurity upon the one of light. This cosmic defeat of the sun could have been seen as the death of the God incarnated in it, or as a start of that anguish that leads to the winter solstice. This is another topic moment of the solar cycle in which we can symbolically see both the definite death of the sun as much as the start of its resurrection (or the death of the old year that dies and of a new one is born). Actually, near the moment of the winter solstice, the rising point of the sun, observed with the naked eye, seems to remain motionless for some days, while until that moment it moved towards the South. And is known that this moment of illusory stasis has been interpreted by many religions as a temporary death of the sun, when its rebirth is associated with the moment in which the reverse of direction of its rising point starts to become perceptible. As a matter of fact, after the winter solstice, this point starts to move towards the North. The maximum height reached during its trajectory rises, while the days start to become increasingly longer. The reversal of the cycle – which has been interpreted by a huge number of cultures as a path of resurrection – continues till the moment in which the spring equinox re-balances the hours of light and dark. From then on, as maybe the man of Chauvet would say, the time in which the sun “rides” on the horizon starts to become longer than the one in which it “rides” in the underworld, and the light prepares its cyclic triumph that takes place in the day of the summer solstice. Then the sun rises in the point situated most at the North, and the length of the day, like the height that it reaches in the sky, are at the maximum point. Following this line of interpretation, the sunset at the autumn equinox – besides representing in a mythical way the moment in which the sun starts its agony – it is also the point of reference that these men have taken to measure the variations of positions of at least a pair of constellations during the precessional cycle, that for the moment we don’t know how to identify. The rhino that “dives” itself and that then starts to “reemerge” should therefore represent the variation of position in which certain stars became visible in the moment in which the sun sets. Since there is a complete semicircle of slope and a partial one of ascent, the rhino of Chauvet should represent a period of time of circa 15000 years. Following this line of interpretation, the fresco of Chauvet would appear as a series of “frames of the sky”, seen and felt as a sacred space in which Gods with an animal resemblance, during the solar year as in the millenniums, oscillate and move in a reverse circle: during the precessional cycle, the stars on the background swing high and below and move in an anticlockwise way. In this way during the sunset and as well during the sunrise of autumn fall (and also during the spring one), the constellation that appears on the luminous crest of the sun that vanishes at the horizon changes every two-thousand-hundred years circa. Instead, during the year, the sun moves through the zodiac in an anticlockwise way and the sign in which it rises changes once a month. On the Eastern wall of the Chapel of the Lions and the Rhinos, from circa two meters of height from the ground and in a point situated rather North, there is a sort of terrace that in the map that we have shown below, is called Belvedere. This sort of terrace is very difficult to reach; yet there is evidence that the ancient explorers have reached it more than once passing through a path that requires an extraordinary speleological ability. Since the terrace is situated at circa two meters of height, from there we can contemplate this cosmic scene from an elevated perspective, that could represent the point of view of a God of a certain sort. It is at all plausible that the human being that has ventured this far, probably was a priest that wanted to identify himself with this God that is not clear which one is. All we can say is that the angle that the Belvedere forms with the prong of rock on which the Minotaur is painted on, at a rough guess, seems very near to that that the Earth cover from solstice to solstice each year or in one half of a precessional cycle, when the same point of the orbit around the sun change from a summer solstice in a winter solstice. As we are acquainted with the custom of ancient people to divinize the heavenly entities, it is possible that the pole of the ecliptic was considered as a god. Maybe the most important of all, as it never change for all eternity. So, it could be not a case that we find again this typical inclination in many famous works and monuments of the Stone Age .
in The Snefru Code part 5 too we have seen that allusions to the ecliptic axis could be find in the whole Neolithic Era. We can find another very important one, even if in a little cryptic form, where we would not expect it, that’s to say in the inclination of the Queen Chamber Roof, that corresponds to the golden ratio of the angle traced from the terrestrial pole from solstice to solstice (23,5 + 23,5 = 47 : ɸ ≈ 29°,047). We will see later how much this architectonic particular of the Big Pyramid will result precious to understand in a complete way the meaning of the Chapel of Lions and Rhinos of Chauvet
We find again this same typical angle in two very famous paintings and in a no less famous alignment that were realized in a relatively recent age in the Western culture. Maybe we find here a clue that the hermetic legacy of the Ancient Egypt is something more serious that a literary myth among many others.
Talking of hermetic heritages, we note by passing that the square which has ħ as its side (ħ is the Dirac constant, obtained dividing the Plank constant by 2π) has a surface equal to 1,0545716882 = 1,112121. If we divide this number by 2 we get to 0,55606. And, if we interpret this figure as a tangent we discover that it is which of the angle equal to 29°,076, very near to the golden ratio of the one of 47° and so to the inclination of the Queen Chamber. A much more strange fact seems that we can obtain the Newton gravitational constant from ħ with the formula G = 6ħ2 = 6,672. This means that the constant G corresponds to the surface of a cube with a side exactly equal to ħ. Who knows, maybe this could be one of the possible meanings of the cube intended as one of the five elements – Earth – that we have seen in the second part of The Snefru Code 3, and the clue that in something that we have always judged geometric superstitions could be hidden a very deep wisdom. If we take one of the five triangles that form a pentagon with side equal to ħ, we see that its surface is equal to (ħ2 x 0,6882) : 2 = 0,382680. The square root of this number is equal to √0,382680 = 0,61860. This means that we can obtain a good approximation to ħ making √[(1/ɸ2 : 0,6882) x 2] = 1,053586, which furthermore corresponds in an almost perfect way to the ratio between the number of days of the solar year and which of the so called “year of eclipses”, as 365,25 : 346,6 = 1,053808. And, most important of all, we have to notice that √0,382680 = 0,61860 corresponds in an almost perfect way to the approximation to ɸ that we find in the Big Pyramid takeaway 1, as 1,61859 – 1 = 0,61859)). As is well known, the pentagon was considered sacred by the Pythagoreans and, analyzing a little its characteristics (we postpone a more detailed one to a later work) we get aware that this geometric figure is capable to create a network of relations that seems really impressive. For instance, if we take a pentagon with side equal to c = 2,9979246, the constant that we need to calculate the speed of light, we see that the double of the surface of one of its five triangles is equal to c2 x 0,6882 = 6,1852 ≈ (ɸCheops – 1) x 10 = 0,61859 x 10 = 6,1859 ≈ 1/ɸ x 10 = 6,18033988. Instead, if we take a pentagon with side equal to the Euler number “e”, the double of the surface of one of its five triangles is e2 x 0,6882 = 5,085148 ≈ πCheops x ɸCheops = 5,086996 ≈ πɸ = 5,0832. So it seems very probable that the measures of the Big Pyramid – that, as we will see in The Snefru Code part 7 – contain ɸ, π and “e” – were established on the basis of a pentagon with side equal to “e”. Also the hexagon was rather important for Plato and the Pythagoreans, and also in this geometric figure we find astounding relations between physical constants. If we take a regular hexagon with a surface equal to G = 6,6727 each one of its equilateral triangles has a surface equal to 1,1121214, very near to ħ2. Its side is equal to √6,6727.. : 2,5981 = 1,602595, that is the constant of the electric charge of proton and electron. At the end, we must note that the proton rest mass constant is equal to ħ + 1/ɸ = 1,6726: and the deep relation between the pentagon and the golden number is very well known. Mathematical knowledges of this kind are escaped until today as to our physics as to our geometry. Here we find the clue that maybe we have much to learn by people whose mathematics we have judged less “evolved” than ours. And why this could not be true also in relation with the men of Chauvet? Is it not possible that in an era in which we see only monkeys just come out from the animal state there were instead spread very deep astronomical knowledges, that were passed on from generation to generation until the construction of the Pyramids, that to these knowledges gave a marvelous architectonical body?
8. Actually, we may suspect a thing like that because of the fact that the method that the people of Chauvet used to draw the sky was equal and opposite to the one that we find in Egypt many millenniums later on, given that, since in the most ancient times, the Ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests seemed to observe and establish the changes of position of the stars using as a landmark the diametrical opposite moment of the calendar that was choose at Chauvet, this is the dawn of the spring equinox. From what we can understand from the myth and the astronomical orientation of the Megalith Circle of Nabta Playa, this point of the solar cycle was experienced in a religious way, as the moment in which Osiris (identified with the constellation of Orion), and his son Horus (probably identified with the Sun), rose again or, to be more precise, started a cycle of resurrection in a parallel moment. From a point of observation like the one of Nabta Playa, at the time in which the Circle was constructed (probably in a date that is approximately 6000-7000 AC), Osiris-Orion – after a period of invisibility of about 70 days – reappeared at the East in a reclining position, typical of the dead (the date that refers to the heliacal rising of Orion at the spring equinox is 5820 AC according to Brophy).
The approximately two months, in which Osiris-Orion vanished from the horizon at the heliacal rising, were interpreted as the time in which the sister Isis-Dog star searched for him, and the one in which she reappeared as the moment in which his body was found again. At that moment, with the cures of his sister, the God started to come back to life, a life that, with each passing day, becomes increasingly intense and powerful. We affirm this because the annual trajectory of Osiris-Orion took place in a way that around the spring equinox the position of the constellation looked more or less to be in correspondence to the East in a completely reclined position. On the contrary, in correspondence with the heliacal-rising during the summer solstice, it showed to the South with a completely different approach. This is a fact that we can deduce from many sacred images in which the Pharaoh, that personified Osiris, was represented in a standing position and with the bat rising while he kills an enemy. This enemy maybe can be seen as that Seth-Bull that had killed him, given that Seth represented that forces of the Chaos and Death against which every year the Gods, men and the whole Universe, fight to rise again and come back to life after the symbolic death represented by the winter. In the below image, let’s take for example the stele of Snefru of the Sinai: but we could of course take many other examples. The aesthetics connection, not to say the clear resemblance of the Pharaoh gesture with which of the Christ of the Sistine Chapel gives us a new suggestion about the possible derivation of a good part of our sacred art from the Ancient Egyptian one, at least on a formal level. Hands up anyone who does not recognize in the representation of the Isis maternity an archetype of thousands and thousands representations of the maternity of Mary.
The date in which Osiris-Orion, in the summer solstice, presents itself in this position, this is at the maximum height in the sky from an observation point like Nabta Playa, is established by Brophy around 4900 BC. It is noteworthy that circa 13000 years before the God-constellation, in this same moment of the solar cycle, appeared in a different position, that is rotated of more or less 45°-47°: the same rotation that we have seen above, that both the rhino and the lion of Chauvet perform. Another noteworthy fact is that the disposition of the stones that within the Circle represent the Orion Belt when it is at the maximum, and the ones that represent the Shoulders when it is at the minimum, makes it possible that the representation scale grows and diminishes with the growing and diminishing of its height at the horizon. We can clearly see this situation in the below image, where the same constellation is represented in these opposite moments like a giant at his maximum or nearly as a dwarf at his minimum.
Everyone will have noticed that also the Rhino of Chauvet, as he decreases in height, in a certain way, diminishes, even if not globally: what diminishes is the dimension of his horn, that reaching the minimum point of the rotation, even disappears together with the head. It is more or less the same thing that happens to the lion. In the “frames” more below, we can see that only the contour of his back is outlined, and then when the head appears, we see that his expression is timid and with lowered ears. The higher up contour represents it instead with the ears in a natural position, and the expression seems to become more aggressive, nearly fierce. It is no longer afraid and submissive as in the “frames” in which this still unknown constellation is represented in a lower point of the sky.
9) Now, if from Chauvet we move to Giza, it seems at all clear that the mythological-astronomical structure represented by the Chamber of the Queen has a close connection with the Chapel of the Lions and the Rhinos and with the one represented at Nabta Playa too. On the Eastern wall there is in fact a mysterious crypt that therefore should have an opposite meaning to the one of Chauvet, that is situated at the West. We can see it in the below image.
While at Chauvet the horse represented inside the crypt should be the sun that after the sunset of the autumn equinox starts to ride in the underworld, on the contrary, the crypt of the Chamber of the Queen should represent the door through which Osiris-Orion (and so also his Son, the Sun-Horus) “reemerges at the horizon” more or less at the same moment of the heliacal rising at the spring equinox. Or, for the reason that Seth had thrown the corpse of his brother closed in a sarcophagus in the Nile, a more appropriate interpretation could be that the crypt in the Chamber of the Queen represents the point of the rising of the sun at the spring equinox (this is the East) as the sarcophagus in which Isis finds again the corpse of the brother-groom (in fact, the crypt of the Chamber of the Queen has a shape that could remind us the one of a sarcophagus). This interpretation is reinforced in a philological way by the origin of the name of the Greek God of death and resurrection, Dionysus. Herodotus tells us that the phallic worship of this God has reached the Greeks from Egypt. Giovanni Semerano reconstructs this way the origin of the Greek name
“ The first Mycenaean diwo-, Διο- etc. component is based on Accadic di’u in the sense of sanctuary, sancta sanctorum, crypt, cell, that of course assumes the meaning of the God, of the deity that inhabits it; (..) For the second component -νιδοδ we have to remember that with intuition, Nisa where the newborn God had been entrusted to the nymphs by Ermes, has always been conceived as a place of fabulous fertility, rich of woods, springs, fresh streams. All of this is suggested by the name Nymph that corresponds to Accadic nusha, nushu (fertility, abundance).” Giovanni Semerano, The origins of the European culture, vol. I, pp. 202-203.
A possible translation of the name “Dionysus” could therefore be “crypt of the fertility”. So, the one that has been collocated in the East wall of the Chamber of the Queen, the direction of the helix-rising during the spring equinox, (this is the East) could have been the “crypt of fertility”, or of rebirth, given that the rebirth of Osiris-Orion at the horizon was interpreted as a resurrection of the constellation god and of the life in general. We must bear in mind that the name of the well known Greek god starts with a Δ, that is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding to our “D”. Also, there is evidence that the Greek alphabet was derived from which of the Phoenician, a people that, for clear geographical reasons, had cultural contacts with the Israelites. In the ancient Phoenician alphabet, as we can see in the below scheme, the fourth letter has the meaning of “door”, just like it happens in the ancient Hebrew one
But, as we know, in the ancient Hebrew language the letter corresponding to our “D” – Daleth – has also a numeric meaning, that is 4. Now, that the number 4 is associated to the meaning of “door” makes possible to imagine that this letter – the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek Δ – relates to the four cardinal points, interpreted exactly as doors. For instance, the East could have been intended as “door of fertility”, this is the door from which life rise again triumphant with the Sun, the North as the “door of eternity” because there are the never setting stars, the West as the “underworld door”, because, on the contrary, the heavenly entities always set there. So, while the Ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests were interested in as much as Giza as at Nabta Playa in fixing the moment of the rebirth of the Sun-Horus and of Osiris-Orion, in the End Chamber of Chauvet their ancestors took care in fixing what was happening in the opposite moment of the solar cycle, at the sunset of the autumn equinox. But there is another radical difference in the astronomical-religious thought that seems to manifest itself among the men that painted the Chapel of the Lions and of the Rhinos at Chauvet, and the ones that constructed the Great Pyramid of Giza and inside it the Chamber of the Queen. In fact the men of Chauvet did not construct an architectonic space (therefore an artificial space) to represent thanks to it the sky and paint on it the imagine of their starry Gods. On the contrary, they ventured in the extremely risky exploration of caves like the one of Chauvet to find themselves in a setting in which the structure, with no need of the human intervention, naturally and spontaneously presented itself as a symbol of the structure of the celestial world. If the motto of the Ancient Egyptians was “as in heaven as on earth”, the one of the men of Chauvet had to be : “as in the celestial world, as in the underworld”. In fact, a chapel like the one of Chauvet, shows us that the aim of the exploration of the caves seems really the one of searching in the underworld an image of the celestial world that they could contemplate standing on Earth. In this sense, the human and religious history of Chauvet seems extraordinarily similar to the one of Altamira, and it’s probably common to the whole Paleolithic. In fact at Altamira, just like at Chauvet, the famous image of a bison that seems to curl upon itself (in a different way but very similar to the Minotaur in the End Chamber) was not drawn anywhere, but on the contrary, on a protrusion of rock that suggested that shape that as a matter of fact was then painted, as we can clearly see in the below images. Again, we find that this shape seems an image of the movement of the precession.
The bison that curls on itself, just as the Minotaur of Chauvet, seems to be an image of the Northern Sky that rotates around a point that is situated inside the circle traced by the precession, on which the three polar stars are located. This hypothesis, that seems apparently very risky, is explained by the fact that as we can see from the drawing on the top at the left, if we place the profile of this strange bison on the Northern sky, we notice that it coincides with more than twenty stars. So it appears as a map of the sky in a certain moment of the processional cycle traced in a way that myth and astronomy coincide in a perfect way.
10. Incidentally, the fact that the constellation of the Dragon has been imagined by the men of Altamira as a bison, that is as an animal with horns, could very important, because it seems to create a bond between what we could call their gestalt-imagination with the one of men of many others following millenniums: even with the men of the present, given that today the Dragon is still represented with horns. This reminds us that also the head of the Minotaur that screws itself on the stalactite of Chauvet is an horned being. Therefore, it is plausible that even it represents the constellation of the Dragon, that in the course of the millenniums endlessly screws upon itself. If something of this kind from the point of view of modern man could seem incredible or even absurd (because to a mind which believe firmly in evolution and progress thousands of years without significant changes are something very difficult as to accept as to explain), maybe to the Paleolithic man that wouldn’t cause much surprise, even if between Chauvet and Altamira there are 15000 years of distance. The fact is that here we are talking of cultures in which the tradition and the past were very highly valued: therefore they valued time in a diametrical opposite way in comparison to us. To make an example that is still very close to us, it is sufficient to think of how the Dogon had been capable to preserve for thousands of years, strong characteristics of the Ancient Egyptian writing and starry religion. Both the sky and its cycles were so important for them that – following de Santillana and von Dechend – they went to inhabit an area of the dry Africa, where life is particularly difficult, for the only reason that from there certain astronomical views are easier (from what we know of the prehistoric era, it is not be excluded the fact that the migration of Abram towards Cananea has been motivated by the following of a let’s say certain figure in the sky, that will then be named “the celestial Jerusalem”; a figure that maybe in Babylon was impossible to observe, or that had been lost with the changing of the sky during the millenniums). In a culture like this, both the present and the future, are radically depreciated in comparison to the past, that is preserved during life with the same passion in which we bury it in the museums (or we use it in a commercial way, giving it an artificial life placing it in the whirling merry-go round of money and gross domestic product, that seems to be the only symbols capable of deeply involving the modern West). It is at all clear that for a culture like the Ancient Egyptian one (and presumably also for the ones of Chauvet, Altamira, just like for all the rest of Paleolithic) the preservation of the tradition was the very purpose of life, like the continuous mutation is for us: for this people ten thousand years of cultural stillness were ten thousand years of life, like for us ten minutes without the T.V. News that announces some devastating news are ten minutes of death. As food for thought, we can add that it is difficult to not notice that the “head” of the constellation of the Dragon is rather similar to the one of the constellation that in a second moment was identified with the Bull. This is a fact, that seems to allude to a common inclination of the gestalt-imagination of human being, and so it could be the sign that same characteristics of different constellations were interpreted in the same way (in this case the sameness of the two “heads” has given life to the imagination of two horned beings).
The similarity between the two “heads” could have led the human being to associate in an intimate way two constellation that have a very different position in the sky, and therefore protagonists of very different precessional events. In fact, the Dragon is a constellation that for the fact that is situated at the Northern extremity of the sky, rotates on itself and in comparison to the other constellations does never change very much its position and height. Its stars are therefore “imperishable”, which is the way in which the Ancient Egyptians, defined the stars that never set. Instead, for example from a point of observation like Nabta Playa, the Bull is destined to stay above or under Orion, and so to symbolically triumph or die in the struggle with the processional rival constellation. For this reason it is not impossible that the long iconographic and religious tradition, that had seen the Dragon as a Bison (this is a figure similar to the one of the Bull) has had an echo in the theological-astronomical thought of the Ancient Egypt. Moreover that could have driven the Ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests to see in what for us is the Big Dipper, a constellation that is situated rather near to the Dragon, a figure that they called the Leg of the Bull, that should have had a great importance at a religious level. It was in fact a custom of the Ancient Egyptians to sacrifice the sacred bulls after having deprived them of the left foreleg, and it seems clear that this way of proceeding seems to allude to a castration of the Bull as deified constellation (so the leg of the Bull could be a starry symbol of the testicles that Seth looses in his battle with Horus). So, in the moment in which in the Duat Sky Orion killed the Bull (this is, he dominated it at the horizon) we could hypothesize that also the God-constellation of the North (the Leg of the Bull) that maybe was interpreted as an immortal alter ago of it (and therefore like an alter ego of Seth) was struck too. This is what we can understand from the zodiac of Semnut, where a divinity with an hawk head (probably associated to Orion-Horus, and maybe with the Cygnus constellation too, as it was in the Celtic mythology Lohengrin, the Perceval son, that travel on a boat dragged by a swan) seems to strike with its spear the Leg of the Bull. Notice in the below image like the inclination of the spear compared to the vertical axis of the drawing is more or less the one of polar axis of earth compared to the ecliptic one .
So, this ancient zodiac gives us the possibility to understand the deep, astronomical meaning of the Celtic myth we have just mentioned, a myth that has become very important to the modern West. We are obviously talking about the myth of the Fisher King. As well known, when Perceval arrive to the Castle on the Lake (and here with the word “lake” we must not understand a terrestrial lake, situated here or there, but the ecliptic plane, beyond the 12 Zodiac constellations) he finds out that the Fisher King, the master of the Castle, suffer because of wound to the thigh, that it is impossible to heal: and this wound was inflicted by a spear. What can be the Celtic myth if not a version of the stellar Ancient Egyptian myth? What doubts can we have about the fact that the King Fisher Castle is something different from the cosmic space that we find within the 12 constellations of the zodiac, this is the Earth and the Solar System? All around the world are scattered myth that tell about divinities – often in form of snake – that sink into a lake. The most famous version of this myth in the West is surely the one of the Loch Ness monster. Here it seems rather clear that these divinities are nothing more that heavenly entities that sink into the surface of a “lake” which is the mythologizing (in the sense of a figured representation) of the ecliptic plane
11. This whole set of considerations leads us to think that the astronomy as an essential part of theology is a very, very ancient form of thought, started from an unspecified number of ten-thousand years and that has been carried on more or less continuously until the rise of the pagan culture, that has radically humanized the starry Gods. The classical Greek culture seems in fact a moment in which this religious tradition is abandoned and rapidly forgotten. The need to nearby Gods, to make them terrestrial and human is so strong, that we come to the point that in Periclean age the astronomer-observers are even prohibited. The here-and-now, the eternal present and the space “near” of the vision of pagan world cannot tolerate that continues, even if for merely scientific aims, a tradition of contemplation of the sky, that with all the evidence, in the beginning was essentially related to religious needs. At the end of this investigation, we find out that following the thread of the archeology-astronomy, one of the most unsettling enigmas that weighs on the iconographic bequests that comes from the Paleolithic nearly undoes by itself. The men of Chauvet and of Altamira – that show a pictorial art in certain cases so admirable to make absolutely necessary the hypothesis that in those cultures painting was an institution equipped with schools, teachers, students and whatever pertains to a tradition of sacred art as serious as the Christian or Buddhist one – didn’t venture in the depths of earth to trace more or less randomly forms of animals more or less insignificant. In contrary these people were part of a caste of astronomer-priests that went underground to search for caves where they could recognize a gestalt-image of the sky. The task that they underwent was to continue the divine work, tracing first those signs with which this gestalt-image was made completely intelligible and then changing it following the changing of the sky in the millenniums. If we go to Les Trois Freres, we find a fresco that until today has appeared completely enigmatic, given that it is composed by figures that overlap each other in an apparently chaotic way.
But if we astronomically interpret this image, here we can see in it the registration of the changes of an area of the sky, in which in the millenniums different constellations – this is different starry-Gods – occupy the place that in a first place had been assigned to another one. The theological aim of this exploration of the depths of the earth seems the one of a research that we call “life after death” and that maybe this people called “life after the sunset”, or “the world beyond the West”, that may be was imagined as a place where the secret of eternity was guarded (we have to remember that “eternity” for these men meant an endless comeback of the same cycle of life, not “an eternal instant” neither an endless going on along a straight line directed to an unknown future). If the underground world, where every day the sun goes to vanish, contains an image that appear nearly a mold (or a “project” ) of the celestial one, for these people that meant that the underworld is the place in which, during every solar and precessional cycle, the dawn of regeneration of the universe and of man that inhabits it prepare itself. So, we must not value it as the place in which things annihilate, but the one in which they regenerate and so get ready to their eternal return. Our research about Chauvet gives us also the possibility to understand the meaning of the reliefs that we can find in a site like Gobekli Tepe. At Gobekli Tepe there are many “T” shaped panels set up in series, with representations of animals that show characteristics very similar to those of Chauvet and of all the other Paleolithic Caves: particularly, the animals seems to be floating on some sort of liquid, not standing on the ground (as strange as it could seem, we can have a similar sensation contemplating the figures of the Last Judgement on the Sistina Chapel: the figures that go upward and those that go in the underworld could be a far legacy of the heavenly entities interpreted as gods that oscillates in the sky, or that emerge from or drown under the horizon interpreted as the surface of a lake). It seems clear that these panels are representations of celestial scenes in a crucial moment of the year (moments as the heliacal rising at the equinoxes or at the solstices), as they change during the precessional cycle. We can see them in the below photos.
At Chauvet we find that a similar succession of images was constructed using the natural configuration of the cave. Confronting the two structures we can easily notice the differences and the resemblances
It is possible that our ancestors had chosen the “T” shape because the pillar that work as a support represents the ecliptic axis, that in the mythical visions has been many times imagined as the pillar that support the sky. Maybe it’s useful to recall too that the ecliptic axis was very often imagined – in many ancient mythologies and particularly in the Snorry Sturluson Edda – also as a tree. And the Cross of Christ, once arrived in the northern regions of Europe, was immediately compared to a tree. This fact seems to demonstrate that the legacy of the ancient astronomical religion was not completely destroyed by the advent of Christendom, as we can see in the series of “T” shaped panels of Gobekly Tepe a series of “T” shaped crosses, still today very common and usually worn by the admirers of the St Francesco interpretation of the Christian faith. If we take in consideration these reflections, we can hypothesize that the two sacred Trees that we find in the Eden described by the Genesis – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge – could be the terrestrial and the ecliptic axis seen as sort of goddesses or anyway as sacred objects. The Tree of Life should be the ecliptic axis, because with its perennial immobility seems very appropriate to symbolize the eternal life. Instead, the terrestrial polar axis could represent the Tree of Knowledge, because, as far as we know, astronomy was the origin of all scientific knowledge (as it is well known, the Newton gravitational theory was at the base of all the developments of Western dynamic), but also in the deep past of humanity, if we follow what Plato writes in the Timeo.