Footprint in Rock Art

footprint heavenly gates negev desert rock art

Footprint – Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art, Israel

Deciphering rock art from Israel,

Numerous “footprints” engravings have been found in Negev Desert rock art. They are generally engraved in pairs, with one larger than the other, and sometimes they have “ears”. Our proof shows that they are figurative representations of heavenly gates marking the entrance from earth to the other worlds, the sky, and the underworld. There are two types of gates, the Paradise gate which serves as an entrance to Paradise, and the Star gates, including the moon and the sun. They are in the shape of footprints and serve as an entrance from earth to the celestial sphere or the underworld.  Fig.1 illustrates the heavenly gates’ abstraction and their location in the world sphere.

Rock Art footprint heavenly gate art Negev Desert
Fig.1 Heavenly gate  rock art from Negev Desert and their placement on the world map

1. The Heavenly Gate  Astronomical Origins

John C Didier (2009) hypothesize that the imaginary heavenly gate is constructed from the stars around the North Pole. It includes the constellations around the North Star, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Draco, as shown in Fig2. The two Ursa Minor stars define the top and the two Ursa Major stars define the gate bottom. The imaginary lines connecting the four stars create a rectangle gate enclosing Thuban, a star in the Draco constellation tail. Thuban represents the previous North Pole star and earth pivot about 4000 years ago.  The gate is carried by the heavenly bull that resembles the outline of the Ursa Major constellation, considered by the ancients as the entrance to Paradise.

Rock Art News. Sumerian heavenly gate abstraction
Fig 2 Heavenly Gate illustration     Fig3  The Heavenly Bull and the Winged Gate.  On right, the Goddess Inanna climbs out the gate.

2. The Gates in Sumerian Cylinder Seals

Acadian cylinder seal Fig.3, dated  3000BC, depicts a gate called in the literature “The Bull and the Winged Gate”. The winged gate supported by the heavenly bull, an Ursa Major constellation depiction floats in the sky. Two gods power the gate by passing a rope depicting the winding Draco constellation. The gate has wings of slightly different sizes symbolizing the rise and set direction. The larger wing, on right in Fig.3, symbolizes the rise direction and the smaller one, on left, symbolizes the set direction.  

The Epic of Gilgamesh 1500 BC contains the gate textual and pictorial testimony as described in the myth of Innana and the Celestial bull. Fig.3 illustrates Innana exiting naked from the heavenly gate carried by the heavenly bull. She steps straight into the boat that sails the celestial ocean that separates heaven from earth. This cylinder seal also conforms to the scheme of gate and wing sizes.

3. The Footprint, Stars gate in Negev Desert Rock Art

Fig.5 presents Rock Art examples of footprint engravings, the stars gate,  from the Negev Desert. They always appear as a pair, sometimes together and also separated,  which comprised of rising and setting gates with wings. They have “ears” reminiscent of birds’ wings, awarding the gate the ability to float in the air. The artist emphasized the differences in rising and setting direction by, the gates sizes, the wings sizes, and the gate outlines thickness. The gates are in the shape of a footprint, which points to the body parts that walk on the earth specifying the gate location. The gate schematic confirms the ideas outlined in the Sumerian cylinder seals adhering to the scheme of gates and wings sizes.

rock art archeology research news. footprint, heavenly gates examples from negev desert rock art
Fig5  Heavenly Gates  Negev Desert Rock art                         Fig 6 The Sun and Moon Gates

Fig.6 illustrates a Rock Art example of four gates, the rightmost engraving. The upper pair shows the sun sunrise and sunset gates; the sun appears between them seen as a full circle. The lower pair shows the moon rising and setting gates that appear between them. The suns’ gate size ratio, of rising/setting, is maintained, however, the moon gates are of equal size since its brightness doesn’t change.

Fig.7 shows examples of engraved rock art gates from the Negev Desert with their heavenly association. From left to right: 1. Venus entering the heavenly gate (see Venus Calendar) 2. Venus Star hovering above its gates. 3. The moon exits its rise gate (the right footprint), 4. An ibex enters the gate, half of it inside and half outside.

Rock Art archeology research news. footprint and the heavenly gate rock art
Fig.7 Examples of heavenly gates and their association  with celestial objects

4. The Heavenly Gate celestial abstraction 

Fig.8 shows two galloping horses carrying in tandem a rectangular structure. This beautiful and unusual scene depicts the constellations around the north star, see Fig.7, the most important sky region, and the gate to Paradise. The horses are a depiction of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. Don’t look for a pictorial resemblance of the horses and constellations. It is the artist’s abstraction of the constellations around the north star into familiar earthly symbols.

The lower horse’s kneeling posture reminds the rectangular shape of the Ursa Major constellation. The upper horse represents Ursa Minor constellation with its long tail depicting the Draco constellation that winds between these two constellations. The area where the Draco tail is crossing, the rectangular structure, marks the old North Star Thuban location, from 4th to 2nd-millennium BCE, see Fig.1.

Rock Art research news. Heavenly gate as a North star
Fig 8 The Heavenly Gate is situated around the North Pole the world pivot. The gate is carried by two horses representing the constellations Ursa Major/Minor and Draco. Negev Desert Rock Art (photo Razy Yahel)


The Sumerian cylinder seals and Negev Desert Rock Art similarity are compelling evidence for the Heavenly Gates abstraction. This includes details such as gates sizes, wings sizes, and even a reminiscence of the Draco constellation seen as the wavy line within the gate.

More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, is available online.

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Didier, John C               The Ancient Eurasian World and the Celestial Pivot.

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