"Archaeological studies have identified possible astronomical markings painted on the walls in the cave system at Lascaux in southern France. Our
ancestors may have recorded their view of the night sky on the walls of their cave some 17 300 years ago. It is thought that the Pleiades star
cluster is represented alongside the nearby cluster of the Hyades. Was the first ever depiction of a star pattern made over seventeen millennia ago?"
A rock carving in Burzahom in India's Kashmir Valley, dated 4500 BC shows a hunting scene involving
humans and animals and two celestial objects.
Joglekar, Vahia and Sule concluded, that the two celestial objects are the moon and Supernova HB9,
which would make this the earliest record of a supernova in human history.
Based on the location of the supernova, they also suggest that the hunting scene is a star map with the stag representing the constellation
Taurus and the hunters and the dog representing
Betelgeuse (α Orionis), Rigel (β Orionis),
Mirach (β Andromedae) and Alpherg
(η Piscium), which would make it one of the oldes star charts in the world.
Around 3200 BC, three early zodiac constellations, lion, bull and scorpion had been defined. At that time, these constellations marked three
of the four cardinal points (both solstices and the spring equinox).
Ian Ridpath tells us that Taurus, the Bull was "...was said to represent
Zeus in the disguise he adopted for another of his extramarital affairs, this time as the bull that carried away
Europa, daughter of King Agenor of Phoenicia.
Europa liked to play on the beach with the other girls of Tyre. Zeus instructed his son Hermes to drive the king’s cattle from their pastures on the
mountain slopes towards the shore where the girls were playing. Adopting the shape of a bull, Zeus surreptitiously mingled with the lowing herd,
awaiting his chance to abduct Europa. There was no mistaking who was the most handsome bull. His hide was white as fresh snow and his horns shone
like polished metal.
Europa was entranced by this beautiful yet placid creature. She adorned his horns with flowers and stroked his flanks, admiring the muscles on his
neck and the folds of skin on his flanks. The bull kissed her hands, while inwardly Zeus could hardly contain himself in anticipation of the final
conquest. The bull lay on the golden sands and Europa ventured to sit on his back. At first, she feared nothing when the bull rose and began to
paddle in the surf. But she became alarmed when it began to swim strongly out to sea. Europa looked around in dismay at the receding shoreline
and clung tightly to the bull’s horns as waves washed over the bull’s back. Craftily, Zeus the bull dipped more deeply into the water to make
her hold him more tightly still.
By now, Europa had realized that this was no ordinary bull. Eventually, the bull waded ashore at Crete, where Zeus revealed his true identity and
seduced Europa. He gave her presents that included a dog that later became the constellation Canis Major. The offspring of Zeus and Europa included
Minos, king of Crete, who established the famous palace at Knossos where bull games were held.
Wikipedia tells us, that "...In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion
of this constellation is depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.
A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer.
The face of Taurus is marked by the V-shaped group of stars called the Hyades. The Hyades
are a star cluster consisting of a roughly spherical group of hundreds of stars in a radius of ten light years.
Quoting Wikipedia: To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the
spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This "sacrifice" led to the
renewal of the land.
The Persians believed that the sky was divided into four districts with each district being guarded by one of the four Royal Stars. The stars were
believed to hold both good and evil power and the Persians looked upon them for guidance in scientific calculations of the sky, such as the calendar
and lunar/solar cycles, and for predictions about the future.
The four royal stars were:
Aldebaran (Tascheter) – vernal equinox (Watcher of the East) Regulus (Venant) – summer solstice (Watcher of the North) Antares (Satevis) – autumnal equinox (Watcher of the West) Fomalhaut (Haftorang/Hastorang) – winter solstice (Watcher of the South)
Several of the stars in Taurus carry traditional Arabic names.
Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi based his description in the
Book of Fixed Stars on
Ptolemy and depicted the constellation accordingly. But some of the Arabic names might go back much furthern than Ptolemy.
Aldebaran (α Tau) comes from the Arabic al Dabarān, which means "the follower,"
referring to the star following the Pleiades.
The Pleiades form the third Arabic Lunar Mansion, called al-Thurayyā. The
Arabic name of α Tauri was taken from the name of the fourth Lunar Mansion, al Dabarān.
In Hindu mythology, Rohini was one of
the 27 daughters of Daksha given to the god Chandra
as wives. Chandra, the Moon god, fell in love with Rohini and spent all his time with her, neglecting his other wives. This angered Daksha, who
cursed the god to suffer from tuberculosis. Other gods intervened and the curse was changed so that Chandra suffers tuberculosis for 15 days
and gets well for the other 15 days, which explains the lunar phases.
In Buddhist tradition, Gautama Buddha was born
when the full Moon was in Taurus. In Buddhism, Antares is called Buddha's Star.
The largest number of stars, including the Hyades and
Aldebaran are in an asterism called Bì, representing a net with a long handle (which is
λ Tau) for catching animals such as rabbits. The asterism gave its name also to the
19th Lunar Mansion The Net.
The 19th Mansion extends all the way to the tips of the Bull's horns. Elnath (β Tau) is part of
the Chinese asterism Wuchē, the five chariots of the celestial emperor. (The other four are located in
Tianguan (ζ Tauri) the other "horn" is a gate in the ecliptic. It lays directly opposite in the sky
to Tianyue in Sagittarius and
Ophiuchus, which represented a lock or keyhole on the ecliptic.
Between Tianguan and the Hyades, also in the 19th Lunar Mansion, lies Tiāngāo, a group of stars including
ι Tauri. Wikipedia
translates Tiāngāo as "Celestial High Terrace", while Ian Ridpath calls it a
The Pleiades are located in an asterism called Mǎo, the "Hairy Head", which is also the name of Mǎo,
the 18th Lunar Mansion.
Also part of the 18th Lunar Mansion is Yue, (37 Tauri), the "Moon Star."
Yue lies on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun star, Ri, in Libra,
reflecting the fact that when the Moon is full it lies opposite the Sun in the sky. Yue and Ri divide the year into two equal parts and
in ancient times, the full Moon in the 19th Mansion signaled the start of the rainy season in China.
The Nama in southern Africa called Aldebaran (α Tau) Aob. He was the husband of the
Khunuseti (the Pleiades). One day, the Khunuseti asked their husband to hunt three
zebras, which were represented by Orion's Belt.
Aob fired his arrow (Orion's Sword) but fell short of his target. He did not dare to retrieve his arrow because of the fierce lion (Betelgeuse) which sat watching
the zebras and he dared not return home because he had killed no game. Thus, there he sits forever, shivering in the cold night and suffering thirst and hunger.
Hawaiian lore attributes the discovery of Hawai‘i to a fisherman named Hawai‘iloa. He is said to have discovered the islands during a long
fishing trip from a homeland in the west. The Big Island was named after him, while Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui were named after his children.
Hawai‘iloa’s navigator, Makali‘i, steered in the direction of Iao, the Eastern Star, and Hoku‘ula, the red star. According to
Pukui & ElbertIao is the Hawaiian name for Jupiter, when it rises in the east.
Hoku‘ula has been generally identified as Adebaran.
The people along the Clarence River in New South Wales call Aldebaran (α Tauri)
Karambal, a man who fell in love with another man’s wife. He was pursued by the husband and took refuge in a tree. The pursuer set the
tree on fire, the flames of which carried Karambal into the sky, where he still retains the color of the fire.
The constellation Sò‘ Ahóts’i’, Pinching or Doubtful Stars is located in the Hyades star cluster.
It is associated with Dilyéhé and Átsé Ets’ózí. The name Sò‘ Ahóts’i’ refers to doubtful or pinching stars. Pinching may allude to the
closeness of the twin stars, while doubtful may refer to their parentage.
Another story relating to the pinching concept refers to two women fighting, with their hands pulling each other’s hands, arms, and hair. The
bright star Aldebaran is the fire of the Twin Stars.
There is an interesting story about Sò‘ Ahóts’i’ which is part of a larger, more comprehensive story: According to the storytellers,
Átsé Ets’ózí and Dilyéhé were arguing over which of them were the rightful parents of two beautiful twin girls. In Navajo the names
of the girls are Sà’àh Naagháí and Bik’eh Hózhóón, loosely translated as Long Life and Happiness. These two terms embody the whole
of life, in terms of complementarity.
When the girls attained maturity the Sun visited them and in time they gave birth to children. Sà’àh Naagháí, gave birth to a son,
Yé’iitsoh, who became one of the monsters who terrorized people on earth. Bik’eh Hózhóón gave birth to twin sons, who became
the Hero Twins in Navajo oral histories: Naayéé Neizgháni and Tóbájishchíní (Monster Slayer and Born For Water).
These twin boys eventually visited their father the Sun, and received weapons with which they slayed most of the monsters on earth. The Hero
Twins have their own stars, close to Sò‘ Ahóts’i’í.
The Hyades star cluster also includes two stars that depict the Hero Twins, who slay the
monsters and make earth safe for humans. There are many stories of their exploits, which are well known to most Navajos.
Major Enemyway ceremonies that take place in the summer months feature the healing energies of Naayéé’ Neizghání and
Tóbájíshchíní - Monster Slayer and Born For Water.
In many versions of the stories Monster Slayer is the warrior who kills enemies, and
Born For Water is the gentler side of man, who provides assistance and healing.
The specific stars for both groups of twins are kept secret by Navajo elders.
Serpent Mount in what is now Ohio
is a large Effigy mound. Those mounds are remnants of early Native American cultures, raised
piles of earth built in the shape of a stylized animal, symbol, human, or other figure and generally containing one or more human burials. Carbon dating
suggests, that Serpent Mound was erected by the Fort Ancient people around 1070 AD.