Prehistoric Astronomy

Paleolithic Astronomy

From the deepest antiquity, man has gazed at the heavens and marveled at their appearance. We cannot imagine what were the explanations that he constructed in his mind when contemplating the Sun, the Moon and the stars. With a brain in the process of formation, the first hominids must have found themselves at the mercy of the inclemency of the environment. Natural phenomena such as rain, drought, cold or heat had to sow more fear and fear of the unknown in his mind than admiration. It is the late Pleistocene and the Cro-Magnon moves on Earth. Very little we can intuit about the degree of knowledge of astronomy that humanity handled at this stage of its evolution


The Upper Palaeolithic, a period of time that goes from 40,000 to 10,000 years BC, was characterized by very basic astronomical knowledge. Very few clues have been discovered, but having mastered the fire, brought as a consequence the further development of humanity. From the last ice age, humanity emerges with a primary knowledge that will allow it to begin its development. It is attributed to this era, the beginning of the astronomical knowledge of humanity: the finding of carved bones, showing sequences of 28 or 29 points, is a clear allusion to the extent of lunations. In a similar way, they have been found carved in stone, of what is believed to be representations of the Sun, the Moon and the stars.

The Neolithic Revolution

The improvement of his working tools allowed him to increase his nutritional diet and for the first time, the human race, better fed, begins to deepen its existential skills. With the Neolithic, agriculture came along and with it the need to specify the best times to do it. Agricultural settlements have been discovered that already existed in 9,000 BC. And organized towns, such as the one in the vicinity of Chatal Huyuk, in southwestern Turkey, which in 6,500 BC, which had two-story houses that allowed to house some twenty people. The cultivation of the land brought as a consequence two factors: The need to predict the movements of the main stars (the Sun and the Moon) in the sky. Depletion of soil fertility due to the monotony of the crop. Prediction of the movements of the Sun and the Moon. With the passage of time, the human race had to link the climatic changes with the positions of the Sun in the sky. When the seasons of cold or heat, rain or drought were repeated, he had to worry about being able to predict their instants of occurrence: positional astronomy had been born. In order to determine the sunrise and sunset points, he began to make alignments of stone or sticks. Over the years, he refined his observations and improved his prediction methods. Examples of these structures are: The Carnac and Le Menec alignments, in France, of 4 and 1 kilometers, have 2,934 and 1,099 blocks of stones (menhirs) respectively. They are aligned with the sunrise on the dates when sowing should begin (May 6 and August 8). The analyzes show an antiquity of 6,700 years BC. Stonehenge, in England, complex of circles to determine the rising and setting of the Sun and the Moon throughout the year. One of your inner circles; The Sarsen Circle is made up of 30 stone blocks, one of which is half of the others: scholars agree that it is a clear allusion to the 29.5 days that each lunation lasts. It is estimated to be between 3,700 and 2,100 BC. Already in the year 2,500 BC. it was used to calculate lunar eclipses.