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jmccr8

Ancient calendar

21 posts in this topic

I have doubts regarding the conclusion this is a calendar.

Typically, it was the move from hunter/gatherer to agrarian society that propelled the need to start measuring seasons. I would have to see a compelling reason for a hunter/gatherer society to need to measure seasonality before acknowledging this might be a calendar of sorts.

From the article:

Project leader Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, comments: 'The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

It's not enough for the Professor to simply claim there was a need, he has to demonstrate what this need was.

I would not completely exclude the possibility this is some sort of calendar based on this, but I would suggest that conclusion is doubtful.

Project leader Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, comments: 'The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-world-oldest-calendar.html#jCp

Project leader Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, comments: 'The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-world-oldest-calendar.html#jCp

Project leader Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, comments: 'The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-world-oldest-calendar.html#jCp

Project leader Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, comments: 'The evidence suggests that hunter gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-07-world-oldest-calendar.html#jCp

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Posted (edited)

people has been observing the skies for a long long time ... they might not understand it like we do but that does not means they don't understand the intricacies of the connections of signs in the sky with the changing of the seasons ...

they might use terminology different from us today but in the end it mostly means the same things ... if you expect a fish to climb trees to be a better fish then one is a lesser man of poor intelligence ...

an 'eclipse' to us might be a referred to as a 'moon eaten by Jojo the evil wolf' its just a different way to describe the same phenomenon

~edit - typonese attack

Edited by third_eye

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Posted (edited)

I have doubts regarding the conclusion this is a calendar.

Typically, it was the move from hunter/gatherer to agrarian society that propelled the need to start measuring seasons. I would have to see a compelling reason for a hunter/gatherer society to need to measure seasonality before acknowledging this might be a calendar of sorts.

This made me think .... how about a need to know when various foods are ready to gather ? It's a long walk to the blueberry patch... but, they're Always 'out' by the 'time' the sun rises (here). And the fish are always in the stream by the time it rises (here) . etc. etc.

Some animal movements too can be predicted by knowing what time of year it is .. allowing hunters to be in the right place at the right 'time'.

I can see how measuring "seasonality" would be a valuable survival skill for hunter/gatherers.

One other reason might be simple curiosity? Grampa noticed that the sun rises between those two hills twice a year... every year. Grampa was always curious ,, and really smart!

Edited by lightly
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This made me think .... how about a need to know when various foods are ready to gather ?

That is indeed the reason the article gives as to why the conclusion is this was a calendar, but I don't find that reason compelling or even likely. The earliest example we have of a lunar calendar discovered prior to this, as the article states, dates a full 5,000 years after the alleged date of this monument.

There is nothing inbetween - at least that we have discovered.

So, if it was so important for hunter/gatherer societies to build calendars, where are the rest of them?

We shouldn't expect to find all of them, but they should be fairly common - as there were a lot of hunter/gatherer communities - so we should find a few.

I suspect this is a case of the disoverers wanting to find "the earliest" of something, and have arrived at the conclusion of a calendar without considering it's isolation.

I'm not saying this might not be a site connecting with the moon in some respect, but the reason they have given for basing their conclusion of a calendar upon it is very weak, imo.

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Posted (edited)

Good points Leonardo. I'm thinking the sky itself (sun/moon/stars) was the real calendar.. the annual appearance of a certain star on the horizon, for instance, might have signaled the 'time' that herds of whatever arrived in certain locations .. and so on) no real need to make a representational copy of it with rocks or whatever?

There may have been more of them of varying complexity ... hard to determine if these 6 rocks in an arc were a calendar?

Maybe Grampa just wanted to build a calendar... because in addition to being curious and smart, he was sort of a show off and wanted to impress the tribe... election time is coming up after all lol.

Edited by lightly

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Good points Leonardo. I'm thinking the sky itself (sun/moon/stars) was the real calendar.. the annual appearance of a certain star on the horizon, for instance, might have signaled the 'time' that herds of whatever arrived in certain locations .. and so on) no real need to make a representational copy of it with rocks or whatever?

There may have been more of them of varying complexity ... hard to determine if these 6 rocks in an arc were a calendar?

Maybe Grampa just wanted to build a calendar... because in addition to being curious and smart, he was sort of a show off and wanted to impress the tribe... election time is coming up after all lol.

Or maybe the people living there practiced some form of lunar worship and the site is of religious significance. That it might be interpreted as a calendar would then be purely coincidental.

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A reasonable idea. One consideration, sort of left out of my scenario, might be that if they were mobile groups , following animal movements and food harvest times, would they be in one spot for an entire year to mark out any sort of calendar? Maybe not , but if it were a 'camp' that they returned to annually or cyclicly , a calendar in that location would make sense?

'calendars' in multiple camp sites would also make sense? ... dunno... I just don't see why they wouldn't have marked the movements of the heavenly bodies.. for whatever reasons.

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Remember ... the human race was nomadic for a greater part of that millennium ~

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A reasonable idea. One consideration, sort of left out of my scenario, might be that if they were mobile groups , following animal movements and food harvest times, would they be in one spot for an entire year to mark out any sort of calendar? Maybe not , but if it were a 'camp' that they returned to annually or cyclicly , a calendar in that location would make sense?

'calendars' in multiple camp sites would also make sense? ... dunno... I just don't see why they wouldn't have marked the movements of the heavenly bodies.. for whatever reasons.

That's kind of why I made the point I did. That hunter/gatherers tend to "follow the season", as it were, renders the creation of a calendar to mark seasons a wee bit obsolete.

Of course, no group would have unlimited range, so "following the season" might be fairly limited - especially for a group up in Scotland. Groups would have fairly regular travels, with presumably regular stops. So maybe this site demarks one of the particularly important stops in the regular travels of a group of hunter/gatherers. Not a calendar, but denoting a significant place/time - maybe with religious, or quasi-religious, overtones.

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Hi Leonardo,

I am not proposing that it was a calendar,I saw the article and thought that it might be of some interest.We really don't know what life was like in this region at that time in history,apparently there was and abundance of fauna in that region at that time things probably changed when the land bridge was submerged restricting the movements of both fauna and ancient man creating different tool sets for survival.

Replica of 10,000 year old mesolithic dwelling built by UCD experimental archaeologists on campus

When groups are isolated they are forced to adapt or die,it may have been a calendar or a religious site,I don't know.There may have been other sites like this that have been cleared for cultivating crops in more recent times,or possibly others may exist in areas like Doggerland as I have seen articles that have said that there are Mega-liths underwater there.

jmccr8

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Hi Leonardo,

I am not proposing that it was a calendar...

I'm not suggesting you were, jmc, and thanks for posting the article. :tu:

Even if I think the conclusions of the academics involved were based on what I see as unsubstantiated assumption, it's still an interesting piece.

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Hi Leonardo,

Thanks,and yes I agree that unless they find a similar formation that their proposal is speculation.I don't know if you read the link that I gave in post#11,at the end of the article there is another link that is quite interesting about Stone age hunters used the environment to improve standard of living.I guess I could have added the link myself,but I generally assume that if readers are interested in the subject that they will read other links that are attached to the article. ;)

jmccr8

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Hi j, Yup, Interesting article and links. I think there are other examples of environmental manipulation being found too.. from earlier dates than previously known of.

That link talks about how some of those same people adapted to and remained in that area through big environmental changes. Which means that, yes, people were "nomadic" .. but, as this group demonstrates, probably usually didn't move around any farther than they needed to . ?

... those marking stones might not be considered a "calendar" but seem to mark positions of the sun and moon?

... sounds sorta like a calendar . I dunno.. my imagination far outpaces my education . Interesting stuff though.

Edited by lightly

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Hi Lightly,

Yes it would seem reasonable that the formation would have some significance to an orientation to the sun or moon as this type of symbolism is repeated throughout time by many ancient peoples and later cultures.Even Neandertals would travel to specific routes taken by migratory herds of deer to take advantage of the ease of hunting during these seasonal migrations,so it may be possible that this was some form of recording optimum times for hunting and gathering.Of course I myself am not that informed about ancient traditions so all I can do is speculate based on what practices were employed by some ancient hominid groups that have been studied and published.

If the population base was small enough there would not be much competition for resources and group movement over greater distances would not be required if there was an abundance of local fauna. Given that they were taking advantage of plant resources as well especially if they were modifying their environment to allow for better development of said plant production would seem to me to indicate that they could/would try to develop more permanent lodging and lifestyle,allowing them more time to develop social/religious aspects of life.

jmccr8

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The basic premise in the OP's link is dubious at best, but that a hunter-gatherer society kept track of time is by no means out of the question. Even before the advent of agriculture ancient peoples probably devised a means of tracking basic seasonal periods for the purposes of ritual gatherings and religious ceremonies. Such a phenomenon probably existed at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, even if it's not evident to us—and Göbekli Tepe was a ritual site.

The problem lies in presenting such concrete conclusions from such an abstract site. I'm not saying it can't be right, but I think the researchers might be stretching too far.

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Aurignacian Lunar Calendar

The Oldest Lunar Calendars and Earliest Constellations have been identified in cave art found in France and Germany. The astronomer-priests of these late Upper Paleolithic Cultures understood mathematical sets, and the interplay between the moon annual cycle, ecliptic, solstice and seasonal changes on earth.

The First (Lunar) Calendar –

The archaeological record's earliest data that speaks to human awareness of the stars and ‘heavens’ dates to the Aurignacian Culture of Europe, c.32,000 B.C. Between 1964 and the early 1990s, Alexander Marshack published breakthrough research that documented the mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the Late Upper Paleolithic Cultures of Europe. Marshack deciphered sets of marks carved into animal bones, and occasionally on the walls of caves, as records of the lunar cycle. These marks are sets of crescents or lines. Artisans carefully controlled line thickness so that a correlation with lunar phases would be as easy as possible to perceive. Sets of marks were often laid out in a serpentine pattern that suggests a snake deity or streams and rivers.

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/featured/oldest-lunar-calendar/15204

(But don't forget to read the commentary... )

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Aurignacian Lunar Calendar

The Oldest Lunar Calendars and Earliest Constellations have been identified in cave art found in France and Germany. The astronomer-priests of these late Upper Paleolithic Cultures understood mathematical sets, and the interplay between the moon annual cycle, ecliptic, solstice and seasonal changes on earth.

The First (Lunar) Calendar –

The archaeological record's earliest data that speaks to human awareness of the stars and ‘heavens’ dates to the Aurignacian Culture of Europe, c.32,000 B.C. Between 1964 and the early 1990s, Alexander Marshack published breakthrough research that documented the mathematical and astronomical knowledge in the Late Upper Paleolithic Cultures of Europe. Marshack deciphered sets of marks carved into animal bones, and occasionally on the walls of caves, as records of the lunar cycle. These marks are sets of crescents or lines. Artisans carefully controlled line thickness so that a correlation with lunar phases would be as easy as possible to perceive. Sets of marks were often laid out in a serpentine pattern that suggests a snake deity or streams and rivers.

http://www.environme...-calendar/15204

(But don't forget to read the commentary... )

Nice find, Abe.

I still have a problem with the declaration of this as a calendar, however. I do not dispute it represents phases of the moon, and so shows a lunar cycle, but why does it do so?

If it was to measure time, then it would meet the criteria for a calendar, but if it was to represent phases of the moon for ritualistic reasons (i.e. a religion) then that does not make this necessarily a calendar.

As for the authors later comments - this leapt out...

As to the need for a precise calender, there was a need in the Upper Paleolithic, albeit not a life and death matter in many years. The more precise the calendric notation and prediction for migration of megafauna, the more successful the next hunt is likely to be.

...which carries with it quite a few assumptions regarding the lifestyle of these people. First, it implies they were essentially sedentary and did not "follow the herd" - but we have no evidence of this. What evidence we can take from observations of modern-era hunter/gatherer societies is that they were/are far more nomadic than the author's statement implies - they did/do "follow the herd".

This reduces the necessity to predict seasonal migrations and so takes away much of the reason for assuming the recording of lunar phases represents a calendar.

Edited by Leonardo

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Hi Kmt_sesh,

Your post is along the lines that I was thinking of when I made my previous post,thanks for the input.

jmccr8

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Maybe there was another reason for creating these socalled lunar calendars:

The Lebombo Bone is an ancient mathematical artifact discovered in the Lebombo mountains located between South Africa and Swaziland in the 1970s. It is a Baboon fibula that was used as a Tally stick. It is roughly 35,000 years old, older than the Ishango bone. It is conjectured to have been used for tracking lunar and/or menstrual cycles, due to the 29 marks on it.

The Universal Book of Mathematics provides the following information about the Lebombo Bone:

One of the oldest mathematical artifacts known, a small piece of the fibula of a baboon, found near Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains between South Africa and Swaziland. Discovered in the 1970s during excavations of Border Cave and dated about 35,000 B.C., the Lebombo bone is marked with 29 clearly defined notches. This suggests it may have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians, because keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar. Certainly, the Lebombo bone resembles calendar sticks still used by Bushmen in Namibia.

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Lebombo_bone

And I can even think of rituals performed at certain phases of the moon.

.

Edited by Abramelin
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Hi Abe,

Great link and thanks for adding it,I have a link that I am adding about Neandertal hunting,it would stand to reason that if they knew when these herds of reindeer were migrating through a specific area that they would need to record in some way the time of year that these migrations occurred.

Clues to Neanderthal hunting tactics hidden in reindeer teeth

jmccr8

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