The image of the constellation of Orion has been found on an ivory mammoth tusk 32,500 years old. It contains the carving of a male figure with arms and legs outstretched to recreate the arrangement of stars in the constellation we still represent with the figure of a male hunter?over 30,000 years later. The Ancient Egyptians identified this group of stars with their god Osiris. It’s amazing to think that this representation of that group of stars could have lasted all these years through so many different cultures.
The ivory was found in a German cave in 1979 and has been analyzed by Dr. Michael Rappenglueck, who is known for recognizing star charts painted on the walls of prehistoric caves. Its date has been determined by carbon-dating ashes that were found next to it. It?s one of the oldest images of a man that?s ever been found and was created by the Aurignacian people. We don?t know much about them, except that they moved into Europe from the East, taking the place of the Neanderthals.
On one side is a man-like being with his legs apart and arms raised, and with his left leg shorter than his right one. This configuration corresponds to the pattern of stars in the constellation Orion, in which the left ?leg? of the constellation is shorter. The stars were in slightly different positions 32,000 years ago because they only seem to be arranged in a pattern when viewed from the Earth. They actually move across the sky at different speeds and in different directions. Rappenglueck used a computer program to go back in time and found that one star in Orion was in a different place at that time, which corresponds with the ancient carving.
The ivory also has notches carved on it, which may be a chart estimating when a pregnant woman will give birth. There are 86 notches on the tablet, which represent the number of days that you subtract from a year to get the average number of days of a human gestation (12 months less 3 months?86 days?equals 9 months). It?s also the number of days that one of Orion’s two prominent stars, Betelguese, is visible. To ancient man, this might have linked human fertility with this constellation identified with a male god, which may be the reason the image of Orion has come down to us unchanged, after so many years.
One thing we?ve learned from Dreamland interviews is that ancient man knew much more than he?s given credit for.
To see a photo of the ivory carving,click here.
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