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Bootes Seasons Marker

rock art bootes season marker

Bootes Seasons Marker

Life in the past looks primitive to us, the 21st-century world citizens. Our tendency to belittle the early man stems from the massive knowledge and the technology we possess today. Interestingly to survive in ancient time man had to be more resourceful and knowledgeable about nature and world behavior as many Rock Art show us. Today to tell the date and time we just have to glance at our watch, it wasn’t so simple in the past. Time was extracted from the cyclical arrival of stars, including the cycles of the Moon and Sun. One had to know the sky well and memorize the appearance of its 3000 visible stars throughout the year. The rock art presented here is an example of using the stars to determine a season.

Bootes Constellation 

The name Bootes, Greek origin, translates to plowman or herdsman since he follows the bears Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations circling endlessly the pole star. In pictures, he appears with two hunting dogs on a leash and a club in his other hand. Arcturus, the main star in Bootes constellation and the fourth brightest star in the northern hemisphere, shines with golden yellow hues seen in the night sky in spring and summer. Ancient navigators and farmers knew Arcturus; his rising marks the Spring Equinox and his setting mark the Fall Equinox. In his poem, Works and Days, Hesiod (around 700 BC) reminds the farmers to count sixty days from the summer solstice to watch the rise of Arcturus 

‘Now, when Zeus has brought to completion sixty more winter days after the sun has turned in his course, the star Arcturus, leaving behind the sacred stream of the ocean, first begins to rise and shine at the edges of the evening. After him, the treble-crying swallow, Pandion’s daughter, comes into the sight of men when spring is just at the beginning. Be there before her. Prune your vines’.

Bootes as Seasons Marker rock art

This Negev rock art presents us with an example, of star knowledge, that marks the season’s appearance in a single glance. In this rock art, we see three figures in a circle like an arrangement. This repeated figure, constellation Bootes,  engraved in different positions as seen in the sky according to seasons. It is recognizable by its kite-like body shape and the dagger. This sky intricate knowledge dates this rock art to the Greek era appearance in Israel about 2000BP.

Bootes seasons rock art Negev Desert

Fig1 Left: Boote’s constellation pose in different seasons taken from the constellation chart. Arcturus position in constellation Bootes marked by the yellow dot. Right: Bootes Seasons rock art marker, Negev Desert Rockart

The different figure positions show the constellation Bootes rising pose for each season. In the Spring times, the constellation Bootes rises leaning as if it comes back to life after its departure in Fall, in the Summer it stands erect and in Fall it vanishes from the sky as illustrated by the constellation falling positions, in Fig,1, signifying death or disappearance from the night sky. The ibex (a Fertility God  Ibex and Rockart) takes Boote’s spot, which is absent from the sky during the wintertime. This marks the wintertime a  blessed rainy season until Bootes appears in the sky again and the hot and dry season begins.

So who is cleverer we or the old man?

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

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