The cave painting in Magura Cave
This paper shows parallels between the paintings in the Magura Cave in Bulgaria and written creation myths. Furthermore, some depictions are examined in archaeoastronomical terms, and it is shown which elements may be connected to an early calendar. It is based on a previous publication in the appropriate German speaking Wikibook, which was widely translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).
Hypotheses[edit | edit source]
The investigations described pursue two main hypotheses:
- The older seven first scenes of the Cave painting in Magura Cave are related to a creation myth.
- The seven sequentially depicted scenes show a coherent creation story (from right to left):
- The Bringer of Light.
- The Celestial Bull in the present-day constellations of Taurus, Aries and Cetus.
- Seven figures corresponding to the seven wandering stars.
- The separation of heaven and earth with the creation of living beings.
- The special place of human beings in creation.
- The creation of water.
- The completion of creation.
Irrespective of these unprovable hypotheses, this paper will show that the above-mentioned scenes may have served thousands of years ago as stations and memory aids for the narration of a creation myth as well as for its illustration. The depictions in the cave paintings of Magura Cave are therefore indications that Neolithic users of the cave knew and passed on a creation myth that shows numerous similarities to other creation myths that have been handed down in writing.
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Creation myths and calendars exist in many ancient cultures. They often answer some questions about the origins of human beings and their environment and can justify religious traditions, such as the celebration of festivals and the associated keeping of calendars. Myths were passed on orally for thousands of years, and before they could be written down, after writing was invented, they may also have been pictorially recorded. This may have served as a pictorial supplement to the spoken or sung narratives (today the term multimedia would be used), but may also have been used as an aid to memory so that important details were not inadvertently omitted or reproduced in the wrong order.
There are many examples of how characters evolved from iconographic images. In the ancient European Vinča culture, in whose area the Magura cave was also located, prehistoric signs were already used in the Neolithic (Danube script).
For the northern hemisphere of the earth, the following can be stated: The direction of writing from right to left corresponds to the long-term course of the sun and the moon along the ecliptic in relation to the fixed star sky. This course can be most easily detected in the case of the Moon, since within a sidereal month (27,322 days) it moves once completely through the fixed star sky. The ancient Indians and the Bedouins long ago divided this self-contained and eternally repeating path into 27 and 28 lunar houses respectively. The direction of writing from left to right corresponds to the daily course of all the celestial bodies in relation to the horizon from rising in the east to culmination on the meridian in the south to setting in the west.
There are numerous indications that our ancestors already referred to the events to be observed in the sky, which they could still perceive completely without light pollution. In this respect, it seems indispensable to consider archaeoastronomical aspects in the interpretation of the ancient representations. There is no evidence that people in ancient times were less intelligent than in modern times, but they had accumulated less knowledge than that which we have at our disposal today. The eternal course of the stars, the planets, the moon and the sun can be described with increasing precision if observed for a sufficiently long time, but cannot be explained without further ado. Consequently, mythical stories were invented for the then inexplicable processes and connections in the sky, especially in the night sky, which were subsequently spun out and spread more and more. Many religions refer to these processes, which were described as divine, among other things to determine calendars and the dates of certain feast days.
In the Magura Cave there are a total of over one thousand pictorial representations from various prehistoric periods. Dating seems to be problematic, the old cave paintings are said to be created at least 2600 BC, but the oldest ones are said to be considerably earlier. This wikibook deals mainly with the seven older depictions, which seem to tell a picture story starting from the entrance of the cave, and also takes up some of the depictions deeper in the cave.
Description[edit | edit source]
The Magura Cave is located about two kilometres northwest of the Bulgarian town of Rabisha in the very northwest of the country. The highest elevation of the mountain is 461 metres above sea level and about 170 metres above the water level of Lake Rabisha, which lies directly to the north. This lake has an extension of just under two and a half kilometres in a west-east direction and a good one and a half kilometres in a north-south direction. To the east, a plain gently slopes down to the Danube for more than 20 kilometres. The Danube forms the national border with Romania here. The Black Sea lies a good 400 kilometres away in this direction. To the south are the western foothills of the Balkan Mountains with their two mountain ranges, "Veneza" and "Vedernik". The border with Serbia runs in a westerly direction 15 kilometres away. From Magura Mountain you can see northwards to the Transylvanian Alps (Southern Carpathians).
The Magura Cave is a karst cave formed about 15 million years ago by the dissolution of limestone, with an air temperature of 12 degrees Celsius. It has a total length of two and a half kilometres, is now equipped with electric lighting and can, however, only be visited in parts and as part of a guided tour all year round.
The cave is located in the eastern tip of the region that was shaped by the Vinča culture around 7000 years ago, where ceramics were worked. Prehistoric signs, the Vinča symbols, which apparently served religious purposes, are also known from this period. The cave paintings seem to date from several periods, going up to the Bronze Age. The artists of the older cave paintings worked with bat guano, made from excrement, about 5500 years ago. There are a total of six halls of different sizes in the main gallery and three more galleries off to the side. At the entrance to the cave, the largest hall of the complex is the Triumph Hall (also known as the Arch Hall), which is over 100 metres long, up to 58 metres wide and up to 28 metres high.
The Magura Cave was already used by people in the Palaeolithic Age. An Indo-European group of peoples called the Thracians inhabited it for several centuries in the Bronze Age. The Triumph Hall was inhabited by numerous people. The cave was also used later, as ceramic artefacts from the Iron Age were found.
In 1984, the cave was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Since 2009, there has been an exhibition of the cave paintings in the entrance area. Similar paintings and others depicting the sun and crescent moons can be found in the Bailovo Cave, near Sofia..
Creation myth[edit | edit source]
The advanced civilisations of the Stone Age lived not only south but also west of the Black Sea. The permafrost boundary was always north of this region during the last cold period, and the land bridge between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea could be walked on. The Black Sea was fed with fresh water via numerous rivers. The entire coastal region was therefore well supplied with drinking water and marine life and thus represented a well-suited habitat for the inhabitants of that time. It cannot be ruled out that the people of all the bordering regions already exchanged trade goods, stories and information as well as knowledge by land at that time, and that this left common traces in the artefacts, traditions and myths of the different peoples. It would therefore not be surprising if the development of societies in all directions from the shores of the Black Sea had revealed numerous similarities and parallelisms. Due to the increasing warming of the earth and the glaciers melting in the process, the water levels of the oceans and inland seas gradually rose by more than one hundred metres, and on the shallow coastal regions of the Black Sea, the water displaced the shore several hundred kilometres inland. The land bridge between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea broke up sometime between 7500 and 9500 years ago, and the Mediterranean and the Black Sea equalised their sea levels. From then on, people had to use boats to travel between the western and southern coastal regions of the Black Sea, which could no longer be reached by land.
The first seven stations of cave paintings in Magura Cave apparently date from an earlier period of paintings in Magura Cave. They reveal many elements of a creation myth, such as a Bringer of Light, the seven, heaven and earth, living beings, man and woman, or water. In further depictions, a calendar and elements of a Flood are evident.
All in all, the paintings in the Magura cave not only reveal astonishing references to Genesis (Bereshit of the Jewish Torah and First Book of Moses of the Christian Old Testament), but also to the Sumerian Atraḫasis Epic and Gilgamesh Epic, which speak of a Celestial Bull and also of a Flood. The Flood narrative is considered a supplement to the creation narrative. The Sumerian primeval ocean or cosmic water was called Abzu ("primeval anian"). The Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish tells on seven clay tablets, for example, of the attributes of the seven winds and of a storm flood as well as of the creation of the constellations by the Sumerian deity Marduk, first mentioned in the third millennium BC. Very similar motifs also appear in ancient Chinese folk tales passed down orally, such as the tales of The Incarnation of the Five Ancients and of the creator goddess of the human race Nü Wa.
In the Magura Cave there are almost a thousand other drawings in addition to the cut-outs presented here. It is therefore conceivable that these narrate a longer "Magura epic" that clearly goes beyond the accounts of the creation of the world and the Flood.
The following seven sections deal with the first seven and apparently oldest stations in the Magura cave. The corresponding cave paintings are interpreted herein as an account of the creation of the world.
Here is a brief simple retelling of the creation myth described in more detail below:
First station[edit | edit source]
Separation of light and darkness
- It rises morning after morning, perceptible to everyone, in the east.
The first sign is reminiscent of a mythical Bringer of Light as seen in the rising sun reflected on a water surface. The glowing effect on the water surface is called a glitter path..
Due to refraction effects in the atmosphere (astronomical refraction), the sun appears somewhat compressed in the vertical direction. Due to Rayleigh scattering, the short-wave blue light of the Sun is deflected sideways, so that mainly the long-wave reddish non-scattered parts reach the observer directly.
At the equinox, sunrise occurs exactly in the east and can then be easily observed from the western tip of Lake Rabisha at the foot of Mount Magura, as this has its greatest extension towards the east and behind it a very wide low plain sloping down towards the Danube and the Black Sea. From the western shore of an ocean or a large body of water whose opposite shore cannot be seen because of the curvature of the earth's surface, as on the Black Sea, the rising sun on the horizon can even merge completely with its reflection.
Here are the first five verses of the creation story from the Old Testament according to the Einheitsübersetzung (German):
1 Im Anfang erschuf Gott Himmel und Erde.
2 Die Erde war wüst und wirr und Finsternis lag über der Urflut und Gottes Geist schwebte über dem Wasser.
3 Gott sprach: Es werde Licht. Und es wurde Licht.
4 Gott sah, dass das Licht gut war. Und Gott schied das Licht von der Finsternis.
5 Und Gott nannte das Licht Tag und die Finsternis nannte er Nacht. Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: erster Tag.
The Sumerian primordial water Abzu also refers to the sunrise.
Among the ancient Egyptian deities, Re was worshipped as the sun deity who made life possible through the working of its power on earth.
The medieval Liber Quare (The Book Why) explains on the question of why prayer is made facing east, so that while God is everywhere and inscrutably great, but according to the first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, he is the one who, as the radiance of the eternal light, has illuminated the darkness:
78 Durch die barmherzige Liebe unseres Gottes wird uns besuchen das aufstrahlende Licht aus der Höhe,
79 um allen zu leuchten, die in Finsternis sitzen und im Schatten des Todes, und unsre Schritte zu lenken auf den Weg des Friedens.
For the North American Indian peoples of the Haida and the Tsimshian in British Columbia, a great dark raven is the Bringer of Light. Before the light was brought into the world, it was nothing but a gigantic primordial flood. The raven was born in the darkness, was the maker and changer of all things as well as a wonderful singing magician and healer. In these creation myths, the raven is considered the bringer of the stars, the moon and the sun, but also of drinking water and fire.
This story can be interpreted astronomically in two ways:
- The raven as a creature rising in the east at the end of the night as the sun over a large expanse of water.
- All seven wandering stars visible to the naked eye move along the ecliptic line from the dark funnel of the Thuraya through the Golden Gate of the ecliptic. If the celestial region at the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic with the two very conspicuous star clusters of the Hyades and the Pleiades is interpreted in this sense, it is not difficult to recognise a raven in this constellation. In the next section, this region is assigned to the Celestial Bull in a further interpretation.
The raven as the Bringer of Light for the indigenous people of the North American West Coast. On the left, the star Tabit from the constellation Orion. In the middle, the V with the open star cluster of the Hyades and the red giant Aldebaran, and on the right, the open star cluster of the Pleiades (seven stars) in the constellation Taurus.
Interpretation of the constellation between the star Tabit (left) and the star cluster of the Pleiades (right) as a raven, with the head of the raven corresponding to the star cluster of the Hyades. The two eyes are the stars Aldebaran (left) and Ain (right) and the beak spout is formed by the star Prima Hyadum (γ Tauri). The ecliptic line is shown dotted in red, and the seven wandering stars move upwards on this line from the large dark funnel below the raven.
Second station[edit | edit source]
Creation of the Celestial Vault
- Attentive and persevering observers see them eternally passing through this gateway into the light.
Bulls seem to have had a special meaning for people since time immemorial and were painted as early as around 40000 years ago in El Castillo Cave in Cantabria, Spain, and in the limestone cave of Lubang Jeriji Saléh on Borneo in Indonesia. There are numerous other examples: The aurochs in the Chauvet Heights on the Ardèche in southern France is said to be about 31000 years old. Members of the Magdalenian culture painted the bull paintings in the cave of Lascaux in the French Dordogne about 16000 years ago, as well as the bison in the cave of Niaux in the French Pyrenees and the steppe bison in the cave of Altamira in northern Spain (Cantabria) about 13000 years ago. In Switzerland, several so-called "moon horns" with rows of holes dating from the late Bronze Age, very reminiscent of the shape of a bull's head, have been found at various archaeological excavation sites. There are also life-size representations of bulls with long horns at least 6000 years old in the dolmens at Locmariaquer in the department of Morbihan as well as on the offshore island of Gavrinis in the Gulf of Morbihan in southern Brittany in France.
The second sign from Magura bears a strong resemblance to the Celestial Bull. Towards the top two long horns could be depicted, the body is open towards the bottom and shows in the middle something like a footprint of something entering this bull. The depiction has the same orientation as the asterism Celestial Bull in the western evening sky, through which all seven wandering stars visible to the naked eye (the Sun, the Moon and the five planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) emerge from a star-poor region at night. Thus they enter from the particularly dark sky segment of the Funnel of Thuraya through the Golden Gate of the Ecliptic into the light of the brighter objects along the ecliptic. In doing so, these seven beings are virtually born out of the Celestial Bull and subsequently make their orbits in the light of the stars along the ecliptic.
This asterism includes parts of today's constellations of Taurus, Aries and Cetus, respectively parts of the corresponding Bedouin constellations Lamb (Arabic: al-hamal, at the star Hamal (α Arietis)) with the "belly" of the lamb (Arabic: al-buṭayn, at the star Nair al Butain or Bharani (41 Arietis)) and the "many little ones" in the "fat tail" of the Lamb (Arabic: al-thurayya, the open star cluster of the Pleiades respectively the Seven Sisters (Messier 45)) as well as the Following (Arabic: al-dabarān, the Red Giant Aldebaran (α Tauri)) and the "amputated hand" (Arabic: al-kaf al-jadhma, the star Kaffaljidhma and Kaffaljidh respectively (γ Ceti)) with the star Menkar (α Ceti) at the Funnel of the Thuraya. The Pleiades are the most conspicuous celestial object in this asterism, they are located on the back of the Celestial Bull and could be regarded as the original source of the seven wandering stars.
Astronomical image showing the full moon in the celestial region of the present-day constellations of Taurus (top left), Cetus (bottom) and Aries (right). The ecliptic runs from the Funnel of Thuraya in the lower right through the Golden Gate of the ecliptic in the centre of the image to the upper left through the centre between the tips of the horns of Taurus.
Due to the precession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox has moved over the last millennia from the constellation Gemini to Taurus and Aries and finally to Pisces, where it is located today. It marks the point on the ecliptic where the sun and the new moon rise at the equinox in spring. At the same time, it marks the point where the full moon sets at the equinox in autumn. 4500 years ago, the vernal equinox was located in the head of the constellation Taurus, directly in the Golden Gate of the ecliptic between the star Ain in the open star cluster of the Hyades and the open star cluster of the Pleiades.
The creation of the celestial vault is described in the Old Testament in verses 14 and 15 at the beginning of the fourth day of creation. There is a clear indication of the calendar function of the lights in the sky:
14 Dann sprach Gott: Lichter sollen am Himmelsgewölbe sein, um Tag und Nacht zu scheiden. Sie sollen als Zeichen für Festzeiten, für Tage und Jahre dienen.
15 Sie sollen Lichter am Himmelsgewölbe sein, um über die Erde hin zu leuchten. Und so geschah es.
The two stars Aldebaran and Ain represent the eyes of the Celestial Bull, and it is interesting to point out that Aldebaran and Ain not only have the astronomical names α Tauri (alpha Tauri) and ε Tauri (epsilon Tauri), but that they are also associated with the first letter Aleph and the letter Ain of the Phoenician alphabet already used in the second millennium BC. In the Hebrew alphabet introduced later, these correspond to the first letter Aleph and the letter Ajin (English: "eye"). These letters also appear in the closely related Paleo-Hebrew alphabet as Aleph and Ayin.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that during a tropical year the sun moves from the beginning at Aldebaran (Latin: "A" / Greek: "Alpha", ecliptical length was 0 degrees) on the ecliptic to the end at Ain (Latin: "O" / Greek: "Omega", ecliptical length was 359 degrees), exactly where the vernal equinox was 4500 years ago. In Christianity, the "A and O" are referred to the Revelation of John:
Ich bin das Alpha und das Omega, der Erste und der Letzte, der Anfang und das Ende.
The Chinese character 牛 for cattle or ox has undergone the following etymological development:
Third station[edit | edit source]
Creation of the celestial bodies
- The seven being in perpetual motion in the heavens.
- We are the we-are-there.
This figure is followed on the third wall of the cave passage by the depiction of a mythical-looking group with a seven figure, which could stand for the seven wandering stars coming out of the Celestial Bull. They can therefore be interpreted as the children of the Celestial Bull born of the Celestial Bull (for the terms "sibunstirri" and "septemtriones" in this context compare: German Wikibook on the Pleiades), namely the "sun", the "moon" and the five planets "Mercury", "Venus", "Mars", "Jupiter" and "Saturn":
|Name||Weekday||Apparent brightness||Sidereal orbital period|
Perhaps also the Pleiades, which is part of the Celestial Bull, is meant by these seven beings. These Pleiades were equated with the nymphs of the same name in ancient Greece.
In the cave paintings, a great many of such air-spirit-like figures with arms raised to the sky appear altogether.
Some figures in the cave paintings clearly resemble today's constellation Orion with its three belt stars. The brightest seven stars of this constellation, which was already named in antiquity, are:
|α Orionis||Beteigeuze||upper left||0,0 bis 1,5m|
|β Orionis||Rigel||lower right||0,0m|
|γ Orionis||Bellatrix||upper right||1,5m|
|ε Orionis||Alnilam||medium belt star||1,5m|
|ζ Orionis||Alnitak||left belt star||1,5m|
|κ Orionis||Saiph||lower left||2,0m|
|δ Orionis||Mintaka||right belt star||2,5m|
After the creation of the firmament, the Old Testament describes in verses 16 to 19 the creation of the Sun (ruler of the day), moon (ruler of the night) and stars are mentioned. The five planets visible to the naked eye and also walking in relation to the fixed star sky, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, were obviously counted among the stars:
16 Gott machte die beiden großen Lichter, das große zur Herrschaft über den Tag, das kleine zur Herrschaft über die Nacht, und die Sterne.
17 Gott setzte sie an das Himmelsgewölbe, damit sie über die Erde leuchten,
18 über Tag und Nacht herrschen und das Licht von der Finsternis scheiden. Gott sah, dass es gut war.
19 Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: vierter Tag.
Fourth station[edit | edit source]
Separation of heaven and earth / Creation of living beings
- Here the eternal heavenly, there the transient earthly.
The fourth station is horizontally divided into two parts and in the upper part (Heaven) it takes up the figurative representations of the seven heavenly figures with raised hands. The lower part shows people as well as land animals and birds (Earth), but no fish. In the first larger composition of drawn figures, therefore, the upper half shows several celestial figures, whereas below is an earthly scene with people and animals (living creatures). The two parts are separated on the rock surface by a long horizontal edge.
With this depiction, the motif "In the beginning God created heaven and earth" is taken up from the very first verse of the creation story in the Old Testament. On the fifth and sixth day, it describes what happened on earth afterwards as follows:
20 Dann sprach Gott: Das Wasser wimmle von Schwärmen lebendiger Wesen und Vögel sollen über der Erde am Himmelsgewölbe fliegen.
21 Und Gott erschuf die großen Wassertiere und alle Lebewesen, die sich fortbewegen nach ihrer Art, von denen das Wasser wimmelt, und alle gefiederten Vögel nach ihrer Art. Gott sah, dass es gut war.
22 Gott segnete sie und sprach: Seid fruchtbar und mehrt euch! Füllt das Wasser im Meer und die Vögel sollen sich auf Erden vermehren.
23 Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: fünfter Tag.
24 Dann sprach Gott: Die Erde bringe Lebewesen aller Art hervor, von Vieh, von Kriechtieren und von Wildtieren der Erde nach ihrer Art. Und so geschah es.
25 Gott machte die Wildtiere der Erde nach ihrer Art, das Vieh nach seiner Art und alle Kriechtiere auf dem Erdboden nach ihrer Art. Gott sah, dass es gut war.
In the Ten Commandments of the Jewish Tanakh the following is commanded:
4 Du sollst dir kein Kultbild machen und keine Gestalt von irgendetwas am Himmel droben, auf der Erde unten oder im Wasser unter der Erde.
In the Psalms there are numerous references to heaven and earth, such as the following:
Psalm 8 "Die Herrlichkeit des Schöpfers – die Würde des Menschen":
2 HERR, unser Herr, / wie gewaltig ist dein Name auf der ganzen Erde, der du deine Hoheit gebreitet hast über den Himmel.
Psalm 50 "Der rechte Gottesdienst":
1 Ein Psalm Asafs. Gott, ja Gott, der HERR, hat gesprochen, / er rief die Erde vom Aufgang der Sonne bis zu ihrem Untergang.
2 Vom Zion her, der Krone der Schönheit, ging Gott auf in strahlendem Glanz.
3 Unser Gott möge kommen und nicht schweigen; Feuer frisst vor ihm her; um ihn stürmt es gewaltig.
4 Dem Himmel droben und der Erde ruft er zu, um sein Volk zu richten:
5 Versammelt mir all meine Frommen, die den Bund mit mir schließen beim Opfer!
6 Da taten die Himmel seine Gerechtigkeit kund; weil Gott selbst der Richter ist.
Psalm 57 "Geborgenheit im Schutze Gottes":
6 Erhebe dich über den Himmel, Gott! Deine Herrlichkeit sei über der ganzen Erde!
12 Erhebe dich über den Himmel, Gott! Deine Herrlichkeit sei über der ganzen Erde!
Psalm 85 "Bitte um Frieden und Gerechtigkeit":
12 Treue sprosst aus der Erde hervor; Gerechtigkeit blickt vom Himmel hernieder.
Psalm 89 "Verheißung an David und Klage über die Verwerfung seines Hauses":
12 Dein ist der Himmel, dein auch die Erde; den Erdkreis und was ihn erfüllt hast du gegründet.
Psalm 103 "Loblied auf den barmherzigen und gerechten Gott":
11 Denn so hoch der Himmel über der Erde ist, so mächtig ist seine Huld über denen, die ihn fürchten.
19 Der HERR hat seinen Thron errichtet im Himmel, seine königliche Macht beherrscht das All.
Psalm 106 "Sündenbekenntnis Israels angesichts seiner Geschichte":
20 Denn herabgeschaut hat der HERR aus heiliger Höhe, vom Himmel hat er auf die Erde geblickt.
Psalm 108 "Gott, Geborgenheit und Schutz seines Volkes":
6 Erhebe dich über den Himmel, Gott! Deine Herrlichkeit sei über der ganzen Erde!
Psalm 113 "Loblied auf Gottes Hoheit und Liebe zu den Geringen":
5 Wer ist wie der HERR, unser Gott, der wohnt in der Höhe,
6 der hinabschaut in die Tiefe, auf Himmel und Erde?
Psalm 121 "Der Hüter Israels":
2 Meine Hilfe kommt vom HERRN, der Himmel und Erde erschaffen hat.
Psalm 124 "Israels Dank für die Befreiung":
8 Unsere Hilfe ist im Namen des HERRN, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.
Psalm 134 "Nächtliches Loblied im Tempel":
3 Es segne dich der HERR vom Zion her, er, der Himmel und Erde erschaffen hat.
Psalm 146 "Preislied auf Gott, den Helfer der Armen":
6 Er ist es, der Himmel und Erde erschafft, / das Meer und alles, was in ihm ist. Er hält die Treue auf ewig.
Psalm 148 "Lobpreis auf den Herrn, den König des Kosmos":
13 Loben sollen sie den Namen des HERRN,/ denn sein Name allein ist erhaben, seine Hoheit strahlt über Erde und Himmel.
In Christianity, the dichotomy between heaven and earth is thematised in the Lord's prayer from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:
9 So sollt ihr beten: Unser Vater im Himmel, geheiligt werde dein Name,
10 dein Reich komme, dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, so auf der Erde.
Fifth station[edit | edit source]
Creation of man
- The perpetual condition for the creation of new human life.
The fifth station shows two figures that look like a woman and a man and at the same time bear resemblance to the heavenly beings from stations three and four.
The depiction is reminiscent of a couple dancing with their arms stretched upwards (in the fifth position). According to the natural philosopher Paracelsus, who was active in the first half of the 15th century, the sylphs or sylphids, which are often depicted in exactly this way, are mythical spirits of the air and are regarded as an example of the spiritualisation of matter.
The creation story in the Old Testament describes the creation of man on the sixth day:
26 Dann sprach Gott: Lasst uns Menschen machen als unser Bild, uns ähnlich! Sie sollen walten über die Fische des Meeres, über die Vögel des Himmels, über das Vieh, über die ganze Erde und über alle Kriechtiere, die auf der Erde kriechen.
27 Gott erschuf den Menschen als sein Bild, als Bild Gottes erschuf er ihn. Männlich und weiblich erschuf er sie.
28 Gott segnete sie und Gott sprach zu ihnen: Seid fruchtbar und mehrt euch, füllt die Erde und unterwerft sie und waltet über die Fische des Meeres, über die Vögel des Himmels und über alle Tiere, die auf der Erde kriechen!
29 Dann sprach Gott: Siehe, ich gebe euch alles Gewächs, das Samen bildet auf der ganzen Erde, und alle Bäume, die Früchte tragen mit Samen darin. Euch sollen sie zur Nahrung dienen.
30 Allen Tieren der Erde, allen Vögeln des Himmels und allem, was auf der Erde kriecht, das Lebensatem in sich hat, gebe ich alles grüne Gewächs zur Nahrung. Und so geschah es.
31 Gott sah alles an, was er gemacht hatte: Und siehe, es war sehr gut. Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: der sechste Tag.
Sixth station[edit | edit source]
Creation of the water
- In the water is heavenly power, through the water is earthly life.
The horizontally aligned zigzag lines in the sixth part are reminiscent of water waves. The primeval flood consisted of water. Water is an essential basis of life for plants, animals and humans. Creation myths often mention that the primordial water is divided into the water in the sky and the water in the rivers, lakes and seas. The zigzag lines of the Magura cave paintings appear in both the upper and lower parts of the depictions.
The creation story in the Old Testament describes the primeval flood and the water even before the creation of man:
6 Dann sprach Gott: Es werde ein Gewölbe mitten im Wasser und scheide Wasser von Wasser.
7 Gott machte das Gewölbe und schied das Wasser unterhalb des Gewölbes vom Wasser oberhalb des Gewölbes. Und so geschah es.
8 Und Gott nannte das Gewölbe Himmel. Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: zweiter Tag.
9 Dann sprach Gott: Es sammle sich das Wasser unterhalb des Himmels an einem Ort und das Trockene werde sichtbar. Und so geschah es.
10 Und Gott nannte das Trockene Land und die Ansammlung des Wassers nannte er Meer. Gott sah, dass es gut war.
11 Dann sprach Gott: Die Erde lasse junges Grün sprießen, Gewächs, das Samen bildet, Fruchtbäume, die nach ihrer Art Früchte tragen mit Samen darin auf der Erde. Und so geschah es.
12 Die Erde brachte junges Grün hervor, Gewächs, das Samen nach seiner Art bildet, und Bäume, die Früchte tragen mit Samen darin nach ihrer Art. Gott sah, dass es gut war.
13 Es wurde Abend und es wurde Morgen: dritter Tag.
In this context, two points stand out that represent a divergence between the sequence of the cave paintings and the biblical creation story:
- This block with the second and third days of creation appears only after the sixth day of creation, otherwise the sequence is identical.
- Of all the verses in the first chapter of the creation story in the Old Testament, only verses 11 to 13, which deal with plants dependent on light and water, are not reflected in the pictorial representations of the first seven stations of the Magura cave.
Great masses of water later put people to the test during the Flood, which is apparently thematised in a later station (see below).
Seventh Station[edit | edit source]
Reflection on the number seven
- The seven stands for a mystical perfection.
The seventh station is somewhat hidden behind a wall and shows seven distinguishable symbols with circles, arcs and crosses.
In this context, it should also be pointed out that these symbols from the Magura Cave have very clear similarities to some of the letters of the oldest known alphabet in the 4000 year old Proto-Sinaitic script, from which the Phoenician alphabet emerged and thus, even later, the Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek alphabets:
|alp||Ox, Bull, first sign of the alphabet|
|haw||Window, Worshipper, Worship|
|taw||Mark, seal, last character of the alphabet|
According to the creation story in the Old Testament, on the seventh day the work of creation was completed. This can be read at the beginning of the second chapter:
1 So wurden Himmel und Erde und ihr ganzes Heer vollendet.
2 Am siebten Tag vollendete Gott das Werk, das er gemacht hatte, und er ruhte am siebten Tag, nachdem er sein ganzes Werk gemacht hatte.
3 Und Gott segnete den siebten Tag und heiligte ihn; denn an ihm ruhte Gott, nachdem er das ganze Werk erschaffen hatte.
The number seven is a special number because it is the only number of the numbers from two to ten that is not divisible with all other numbers. On the seventh day of creation, the world order is established and the mythical creation is completed. The seven days of a week correspond to a quarter of the moon. The story of creation begins in German, Latin (Vulgate) and Hebrew (Bereshit) with these seven words or 28 letters:
The verse reads in Hebrew (from right to left):
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
Written in Latin letters, this reads approximately as follows:
bereschit bara elohim et haschamaijim weet haarez
The Latin Vulgate contains the following seven words here:
In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram.
In the Einheitsübersetzung into German, the first sentence of the Bible also consists of seven words:
Im Anfang erschuf Gott Himmel und Erde.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
There are seven wandering stars visible to the naked eye eternally moving along the ecliptic through the fixed star sky. Other astronomical objects related to the number seven are the seven brightest stars of the asterisms Orion, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Head of the Bull or Pleiades respectively the seven brightest objects of the fixed star sky near the ecliptic that all lie within an arch of 180 degrees behind the dark Funnel of Thuraya:
- Pleiades (Taurus)
- Hyades (Taurus)
- Aldebaran (α Tauri)
- Pollux (α Geminorum)
- Regulus (α Leonis)
- Spica (α Virginis)
- Antares (α Scorpio)
The seven symbols of the cave drawing at the seventh station are reminiscent of the seven celestial figures of the third station as well as partly of astronomical symbols still in use today.
In the celestial segment of these four signs of the zodiac, measured from the star Deneb Algedi (δ Capricorni) in the constellation Capricornus, the "Tail of the Billy Goat", there are no stars close to the ecliptic with a magnitude of 3.5m or brighter. Only in the Golden Gate of the ecliptic in the constellation Taurus do the Pleiades, the Hyades as well as Aldebaran exceed this brightness, and that considerably. This means that all the fixed stars lying near the ecliptic in this quadrant are surpassed in brightness by several hundred other stars of the night sky, as well as very clearly by the seven wandering stars.
After the Moon leaves the constellation of Capricornus, it passes through the three dark and inconspicuous constellations of Aquarius, Pisces and Aries along its path on the ecliptic line for seven days, month after month, before entering the light of the Golden Gate of the ecliptic in the constellation of Taurus.
Flood[edit | edit source]
The zigzag lines visible at the sixth station are taken up several times in the further course of the cave paintings, where they could possibly be related to the depiction of the Flood. Immediately before the calendar-like depictions, which can be seen in connection with a reordering of the world, there is, for example, a strong horizontally aligned zigzag line in the upper part of the drawing, which seems to wash over all the trees, fields and creatures like a torrent. Below this flood wave, there is also a square matrix of forty points - the Flood is said to have lasted forty days according to the written tradition in the Old Testament.
In the sixth chapter of Genesis, a grave measure is announced because of the depraved and violent behaviour of mankind:
11 Die Erde aber war vor Gott verdorben, die Erde war voller Gewalttat.
12 Gott sah sich die Erde an und siehe, sie war verdorben; denn alle Wesen aus Fleisch auf der Erde lebten verdorben.
13 Da sprach Gott zu Noach: Ich sehe, das Ende aller Wesen aus Fleisch ist gekommen; denn durch sie ist die Erde voller Gewalttat. Siehe, ich will sie zugleich mit der Erde verderben.
In the seventh chapter we are then told how the Flood caused for this took place:
4 Denn noch sieben Tage dauert es, dann lasse ich es vierzig Tage und vierzig Nächte lang auf die Erde regnen und tilge vom Erdboden alle Wesen, die ich gemacht habe.
10 Als die sieben Tage vorbei waren, kam das Wasser der Flut über die Erde.
11 Im sechshundertsten Lebensjahr Noachs, am siebzehnten Tag des zweiten Monats, an diesem Tag brachen alle Quellen der gewaltigen Urflut auf und die Schleusen des Himmels öffneten sich.
12 Der Regen ergoss sich vierzig Tage und vierzig Nächte lang auf die Erde.
The open star cluster of the Pleiades had a special significance in many cultures due to its unusual and impressive sight. It was also used as a calendar star, according to whose rising and setting agricultural and seafaring activities were aligned, as is documented, for example, by the Greek poets Hesiod around 700 BC or Aratos of Soloi (* zirka 310 vor Christus; † 245 vor Christus). Hesiod also mentions in his text that the Pleiades are regularly not visible for forty days and nights in spring, as they are then outshone by the light of the passing sun. The star-loving people of Babylon are said to have burnt forty reeds in the morning sky out of joy at the return of the Pleiades. Also the term quarantine (from the French "quarantaine (de jours)" = "forty days") is also connected with the Pleiades or with the duration of the Flood.
At the end of the eighth chapter of Genesis, in the account of the end of the Flood, there are several references to the central and elementary role that a calendar will henceforth have for the surviving people:
Niemals, so lange die Erde besteht, werden Aussaat und Ernte, Kälte und Hitze, Sommer und Winter, Tag und Nacht aufhören.
Calender[edit | edit source]
Sun Calender[edit | edit source]
In the rear part of the cave there is a complex representation of a sun with various attributes, in which numerous references to a solar calendar could be established.
Lunar calendar[edit | edit source]
But there are also several indications of a lunar calendar. In the following, some further findings are presented:
In particular, there is a depiction of the old light at the Moon's morning last with a reclining crescent moon followed by fifteen dash-shaped marks to the left and a sixteenth circular figure with a downward bulge that could symbolise the Full Moon with a glittering path below. From the old light of the moon to the new moon and waxing moon to the full moon, there are sixteen days.
On the Bronze Age Nebra Sky Disk there are three different representations of a basic circular structure, which according to the Austrian prehistorian Paul Gleirscher can be related to the three lunar phases of the old light, the first quarter and the full moon, as they could also be depicted in the sequence of the Magura cave painting:
Also in the ancient Egyptian lunar calendar, which was already in use in the Neolithic period, the month did not begin with the invisible new moon, but already with the just visible old light of the moon's morning last.
In the section of the Magura cave further back with the depiction of the solar calendar, fields with 27 or 28 points can be seen, which indicate that people already counted and knew the length of the sidereal month at that time. After this time, the moon is again in the same lunar house (Arabic: manazil al-qamar), respectively at the same ecliptical longitude or at the same star of the fixed star sky.
Furthermore, fields with 19 and with 25 points appear in the cave paintings. As with the Calendar Stone of Mnajdra, these could indicate the Meton Cycle as well as the number of seven-day weeks within synodic periods or the completed lunar quarters between the equinoxes or solstices.
Closing words[edit | edit source]
If our ancestors can be assumed to have the same creativity as we have today, it is not surprising that lunar and solar calendars as well as creation myths were created on the basis of the knowledge that was initially passed on exclusively orally. The artistically gifted contemporaries were able to create and leave behind corresponding pictorial representations with the tools available at the time. By documenting astronomical observations and events, for example, in the form of tally sheets, tables, lists or even drawings, more and more knowledge could be gathered over the millennia, which could be evaluated with the help of human cognition and used to predict future events.
It is certainly very difficult to interpret these early documents today, and even more difficult to prove proven correlations, but nevertheless it cannot be denied that there are striking and remarkable parallels in various traditions and forms of representation.
It would be desirable if prehistoric and archaeological research could also take into account to a greater extent the undoubtedly existing and non-trivial astronomical knowledge of those who were active at the time. This requires a thorough understanding of the astronomical facts and contexts, which presupposes a corresponding education.
References[edit | edit source]
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Summary of the project[edit | edit source]
- Target audience: Interested and curious people
- Learning objectives: Archaeoastronomical origins with reference to creation myths.
- Book sponsorship/contact person: User:Bautsch
- Are co-authors currently desired? Yes, very much so. Corrections of obvious errors directly in the text; content please via discussion.
- Guidelines for co-authors: Wikimedia-like.