PALEOLITHIC ART MAGAZINE


LIGURIA



THE MOST ANCIENT KNOWN REPRESENTATION OF THE MOON (UPPER PALEOLITHIC , VARA, SAVONA, LIGURIA, ITALY)



Licia Filingeri

The intimacy between man and nature has from always impregnated of himself the spiritual and aestethic life of the man. So, nothing of amazing that its first artistic expressions are a glare of it.The rhythmes of nature, then, constituting its aspects more immediately obvious, have always hit the imagination of the man, since the origins. Every living is subject to the rhythms of the nature, birth, development, death. As soon as the man raise the eyes to the sky, in the dark nights, the moon, cyclically changing, but always reappearing, is there, and also on the earth, reflected from the limpid waters that she illuminates. When our ancestors conquered the erected station, and more easily could turn the look to the sky, which astonishment mixed to fear in seeing to float, in the liquid purest blue cobalt of the untouched atmosphere, the silver disc of the moon, between winking myriads of small sparkling and winking lights. Sure this unexpected vision (not why the animals that had preceded them had never seen it, but why their eyes of human beings watched it with new sensibility, affectivity and knowledge, and with new capability to think the thoughts), this purest light of the star had empty them of restlessness, fear and perhaps of a new anguish, finding himself without warning in presence of absolutely unexpected, inexplicable, uncontrollable something, too much grat for being human, therefore sure full of enormous power, very greatest to that one of whichever individual on the earth.
And, at the same time, that silver disc was calming to hide unexpected and horrific snares, therefore was something of sweet, like the caress of a woman, mother, sister, partner, but, at the same time, was cold, not warm as that one of the disc red-orange that was without warning disappeared, not warm like the warm caress of a woman, but cold like the look of a woman who refuses to us, than goes away, than retract from ours contact.Ecco, the first association woman-moon could be risen in the mind of the man in that moment.
Then we can understand like, in the time, the moon has become in the human imaginary a symbol of the parents, receptacle of the sperm and of the spirits of the died ones (in its aspect of creature who periodically disappear), therefore symbol of life and dead , like the snake that often represent them (the minoic Goddess of the Snakes or, according to sure interpretations, the same goddess of the Nile): symbol therefore of the biological rhythms, in which the dead is in reality the beginning of new rebirth . Therefore the moon is the time that goes (as showed by the engravings in the moon-horn of the Venus of Laussel), the periodic variations, already obvious and observed from the dawn of the times. Since the origins the man has noticed above all her changing shape, going through various phases, just like the woman-mother, beginning from the rhythm of the menstrual cycles, they also connected to the lunar phases: symbol of transformation and increase, over all receptacle of seeds of the cyclical fecundity. The festivities of the moon are not casually festivities of the cultivations, being the moon fecundity prototype: she presides the periodic renewal in the animal , vegetable and human world , fecundity fused in the cult of the Great Mother. It is understood therefore as this cyclical movement also can have been put in relation with the lunar symbolism of Janus, two-faced God for excellence: the moon is door of the sky and door of Infera The moon is also symbol of the dream and unconscious , that make part of the nocturne life.
There is a paleolithic sculpture found in Liguria, Italy, representing a head of Homo Sapiens Sapiens, so described from Pietro Gaietto (you can see for greater details the Museum of the Origins of Man,): an anthropomorphic sculpture (height cm. 46, Vara, S.Pietro d' Olba, Liguria, Savona Italy) represents a head of Homo sapiens sapiens. It has a stylistic deformation that emphasizes the re-entering face; and a similar representation is in an anthropomorhic menhir of Carnac (present in the same website). Being without beard, it could also be a feminine head . For the elevation of the head, it seems wearing a hat.


Paleolithic sculpture S.Pietro d'Olba, Savona, Liguria, Italy

The head, in my opinion, remembers very close following representations, come until ours days , of a middle anthropomorhic moon, which already in the past centuries could be seen in the banners of some stores . Still today, there are many shops and lodges entitled to the moon, that introduce this emblema as symbol. The presculpture of Savona has a light shape somewhat arched, following the line of the profile of an anthropomorhic figure ; he is obvious: and can be observed clearly the engraving of the eye , that confers to the sculpture a penetrating look, and the shape lightly pointed of the nose, the re-enter of lips and the ponted chin that constitutes the other horn of the half moon.
Hat and hair-styling also are uniforms from a carving, but other lines are appreciable on what has been interpreted from Gaietto like a pointed hood, for which could also be assumed a calendar to cuts. The face could belong to a woman, in compliance with the association moon - woman who gets lost in the night of the times.It could therefore be the most ancient known representation of the moon, under shape of humanized moon scythe. Continuing in the history of the representation, always in paleolithic age, dated to 12,000 years B.C., we find the famous Venus of Laussel, engraving on stone found to the entrance of a cave.


The Venus of Laussel, bas-relief on cliff near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac (France)


The feminine figure holds in the right hand a horn of bison, but it could also be a half increasing moon, carved with signs referring to the lunar month. With the left hand the Venus indicates her womb, but her look is turned back to the increasing moon, perhaps wanting to indicate the possibility to be pregnant, given the correspondence between the lunar phases and the menstruations of the woman; more, the red ocher of which was covered the Venus probably alludes to the menstrual blood. In any case, the same horn is a sign of fullness, of life wealth, from which the probably symbol of the cornucopia (From the Latin cornu copiae, that is horn of the opulence, horn of the Amantea Goat, mythical nutrix of Juppiter, overflowing of fruits and adorned of grass and flowers, gift that Juppiter offered to his nutrix after having accidentally broken a horn of him during the play.).
The horns of the Taurus are associated to the moon, since the horns of the cattles are correlated to the Magna Mater, like supreme divinity of the fertility.They also refers to the cows, from always correlated to the the woman, like life source through the milk. It does not have to astonish the possibility of a similar metaforic connection, since the same engraving introduces a sure degree of abstraction, in how much the prehistoric artist has represented with great realistic precision the body of the woman, while the face is represented with an abstract style. Horns and moon are from immemorable times associated also for the scythe shape. In historical age, near Sumerians and Babylon People, moon and cow came associated in the fecundity rituals . Therefore the horn indicates both the increasing moon (would be the way to say " the horns of the moon ", than sure sends back to the association moon-horn, and that finds reply in the fact that in many cultures the horn is considered symbol of the new moon),and the vulva, source of every life.
The horn of the Venus of Laussel, as already remembered, is recorded with 30 cuts, corresponding to the 13 lunar months of the year: in fact lune full and lune black are 13 in a year.
Alexander Marschack give us the documentation of the most ancient calendars of the world, dated 40.000 years ago, with the indication of the lunar phases.
The Goddess of the Nile river (4000 B.C.), goddess of regeneration, has a head shape of snake or bird and holds the arms raised to arc around to the head, forming a middle moon which could also represent a pair of horns. the gesture of the goddess could also allude to the mystery of the feminine rituals of " pulling down the moon".
This goddess appears between the egiptians divinities under several names and appears over all tied to the lunar rituals attributed to the goddess Hathor (or Nathor) .

We have seen how much is ancient the association of the moon scythe with the menstrual cycles; we can see it also from the denomination " horns of the uterus", symbolized from the sacred cows. We know from anthropological studies that the gesture to raise the arms to arc over head is found still in some Africans countries near the shepherds who guard the cattles, as it was a sort of identification with the animals. However, near many mythologies of the north Europe appears powerful feminine divinitiy with the cow aspect.
Near the most ancient civilizations the moon, as middle moon or full moon or snake or wave, symbolizes the lunar cycle that is repeated. Nearly always the image of the moon is approached to that one of the woman, as fertility symbol, but also, like has been said, as symbol of changing behavior, like changing is the aspect of the moon, sometimes calming, sometimes alarming (black moon). Near the more important historical civilizations, of the Greeks and the Roman, the moon was venerated under multiple aspects and nouns: Cibele, Selene, Artemis, Ecate (the alarming goddess of Infera) in Greece; Lucina, Trivia and Diana near the Romans.
The God Men of the Frigia received the honors which had to the moon: from its name derives mensis Latin, and the English word moon (in ancient English, Mona), beyond to the teutoniico Mena and the Persian Metra :all evidently derived from one same root.
Finally, the Minoic Goddess of the snakes (1600 B.C.), found in the royal palace of Cnosso, goddess mother of the fertility, central .figure in the minoic religion, has in hand two snakes, symbol of died and rebirth; butthey also represent, in their waving rhymicity, the regularity of the moon, so also this figure confirms the identification moon-woman in its transmutative and generating aspects.


The Goddess of snakes of Cnosso

Then is meaningful the centrality of the myth of the minotaurus at Creta: once again, a emblema of the moon, under shape of horns.

Recently, Dr. Michael A. Rappenglueck, researcher of the University of Munich of Bayern, has supposed that the men of the Paleolithic of 16,500 years ago, the authors of more knew paintings in cave, as that one of Lascaux, have processed complex celestial maps for the observation of the stars. He have described in particular a famous representation of Lascaux, in which in which we can look the charge of a bison against against a man with head of bird, presumibly a shaman: an other head of bird is looked at then; finally, joining the eyes of the three personages, it is had what it has been identified like " the triangle of summer " , made from very precise constellations, around to the polar star. Still, in an other point of the painted walls of Lascaux, a map of the Pleiads and of other stars that are in the same region of the sky would be represented through dots .According to the German scholar, these are some representations of the paleolithic sky, full of animals and spirits guide, moreover representing several lunar phases, much important for the man of Cro-Magnon, directly depending from the rhythms of the nature. The archaeologist is also author of the find of an other celestial map in a Spanish cave of 14000 years ago, the Cueva of El Castillo, always as punctiform representations. Recently, archaeologists of the University of Glasgow, Great Britain,have discovered that is a point at the top of the prehistorical grave tomba of Orkney, Scotland, aligned with the light of the sun and of the moon.
Other megalithic complexes, in Ireland, would be aligned with the moonlight.

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