The First Calendar of the Moon

The latest data that evidences human understanding of the heavenly processes dates back to the Aurignacian Culture (Europe) approximately 32,000 BC. Russian scientist made a substantial research between the 60s and 90s of the 20th century. Alexander Marshack found out that people during the Upper Paleolithic culture had certain knowledge of math and astronomy. During his archeological research he found the carvings on the animal bones similar to the carvings on the walls that turned out to be a signs of lunar cycle. The signs were shaped like crescent or strange lines. The makers of the signs controlled the thickness and length of the lines, so they corresponded to the lunar phase. These signs together created a shape that reminds snake (as a symbol of deity) or the flow of the river.

eye, moonPrehistoric people even tried to make these set of signs easy to carry: they carved them on the small bones, stones or horns. These portable, compact and small lunar phase calendars accompanied people during their long hunting or trips, as well as possible moving.

In order to hunt big animals the hunters needed to take long and exhausting trips, searching and following the herds of bison’s, horses, mammoths etc. We know that Paleolithic people hunted bears. aurochs, and lions as well, but it was rather rare, as these animals had a cultic meaning. During the hunt they needed to have a lunar phase calendar, as everything in the nature changes with the phase of the Moon.

The phases of the Moon carved on these objects are far from precise, as it is impossible to have a clear night all the time in order to correctly depict the ‘sky condition.’ It is a fact that they had some primitive arithmetic knowledge, as to create a lunar calendar should be the certain repeated amount of phases, as well as simple understanding of seasons, because they also need to be followed.

All the things done by people are measured by time, and it doesn’t matter whether we can count the time or not. It is a strict law of physics. The thing that was revealed by the Marshack’s research was the ability of Paleolithic people to have intuitive understanding of arithmetic and its application to the sets of signs in the calendar. Until the research was published, the scientists believed these signs on the bones to be simply chaotic drawing.

The bone was chosen to be the best object to place the lunar calendar, as it is lightweight and long enough. The primitive astronomy led the humanity to the manifold world of gods. The objects that were used in different rituals had special meaning, value and treatment.