Venus Calendar Rock Art

Venus 8 year cycle Rockart

Venus calendar in rock art, Negev Desert Israel

Closely behind the sun and the moon celestial glory in Mesopotamia stands the bright planet Venus symbolizing the image of the Great Goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Her appearances as the Morning Star and the Evening Star correspond to her dual character as the goddess of love and war. Each Venus appearance Morning/Evening last about 9 months which awarded her the title of goddess of love in Greece, known as the goddess Aphrodite.

The Mesopotamians celebrated Venus cycle every eight years when she rose as a morning star near the Spring Equinox. The Venus omen collection from Assyria named “Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa” dated to the reign of the 1650BC ruler Ammisaduga, teaches us about the meticulous Venus observations. Venus sunrise and sunset time and her sky travel were documented by the priests with much attention enumerating the consequences of her celestial journey. The astrologers regarded the bright Venus as blessed and the rayless Venus as unlucky. Venus’s disappearances were a great concern for the priests. Whether this heralds peace or war? Whether it was a sign of drought and famine?

“… Venus disappeared again in the West – the heart of the country is happy. In Nissan, on the twenty-seventh, Venus disappeared in the west … The country has riots, the harvest was very successful”.

Venus’s importance was more than just reciting astrological omens; its predictable cycles elevated her to the sun and the moon ranks creating a harmonizing heavenly clock that verified the sun and moon cycle.

Venus Cycles

Long before the Mesopotamians adapted the Venus cycle from their neighbors the Elamites, located between Iraq and Persia, decoded Venus’s synodic period of 584 days already at 4000 BC. This important calendar knowledge spread out West and East reaching far into Greece (Iurii Mosenkis), Central and Southern America quickly adapted by the Mayan and Aztec Indians. Venus’ two celestial cycles can be used to create a long and accurate calendar. The first Venus cycle creates an octagon and the second cycle creates a pentagon (Fig.1). Both have become the symbols of Venus in the ancient world. (see Asia Haleem 2013)

Venus 1 Octagonal and pentagonal cycle

Fig.1 Octagonal and pentagonal Venus cycles.

The octagonal cycle occurs every 8 solar years when Venus completes her long travel around the sun and returns to the same point in the sky where the cycle began. In the pentagon cycle: the Earth, Venus and the Sun are in line five times during the eight years cycle. The distance between the pentacle vertices is 584 days. It is a constant cycle that can be used to determine the passage of time as it used by the Elamites and the American Indians. Both cycles have become Venus symbols in rock art in the shape of a star either pentagonal or octagonal representing Venus cycle characteristics.

Venus Synodic cycle

Venus’s synodic cycle is the elapsed time between venus, earth, and sun alignment.  The Elamite divided Venus synodic cycle of 584 days into 72 lots of 8 day week each with the addition of up to 8 intercalary days to complete the cycle. Venus travels the sky making 5 retrogressive loops that form a pentagon or five points star. It finally returns to its starting point every 5X583.9= 2919.5 days compare to solar days of 8X365.25 = 2922 repeating its predictable stations of (Superior/Inferior) Conjunctions and the Greatest (East/West) Elongations points. Each synodic Venus cycle last 19 months, it contains a fluctuating number of days between 577 and 592.  (Tsikritis M. 2015). 

Fig,2 Venus synodic cycle (Tsikritis 2015)

Fig.2 shows Venus’s sky travel during its 584-day synodic period. Once every 584 days,  Venus appears behind the Sun a phenomenon called the superior conjunction and is visible before sunrise thus named the Morning Star. Approximately 292 days (about nine months) later, Venus appears at sunset in front of the Sun a phenomenon called the inferior conjunction and Venus turns to the Evening Star.  

Venus 8 Year Calendar, Negev Desert Rock Art

This rock art, from the Negev Desert, creates an ingenious Venus 8-year calendar counter, Fig.3. The wheel with 12 cavities used as a month counter. The 8 branches plant counts the years. The counter is used as follows: A stone added to one cavity for every lunar month that passed. When the wheel filled with twelve stones, it marks the completion of one lunar year. The wheel is then cleared and stone is added to one of the 8 plant branches. A new count of twelve months begins again until all the plant branches are filled; this marks the Venus 8-year cycle completion. In this scene on the right, Venus riding an imaginitive hybrid animal with features of camel and horse re-enters the heavenly gate to begin a new 8-year cycle journey.

Venus calendar 8 year cycle rock art israel

Fig.3 Venus calendar in rock art Negev Desert Israel, a counter of Venus  8-year cycle

Other engraved Venus counters,  of the type described in Fig.3,  prove its utilization in the Negev Desert. Their simpler engraving contains only the years and months counters without fancy decoration. Fig.4  displays an 8 years cycle counter from two different rock art. The left side, in each counter,  counts the  8 years and the right side counts the 12 months.

Venus calendar counters rock art Negev Desert Israel,

Fig.4 Venus calendar counters rock art Negev Desert Israel, (photo Razy Yahel)

Venus Synodic Counter, Negev Desert Rock Art

Venus Synodic cycle is a successive alignment of Earth, Sun, and Venus.  It is a predictable and repeating cycle, easily visible sky event that can be utilized as a calendar.  Already in 4000BC, the  Elamite calendar utilized Venus synodic cycle, which counts an average of 584 days that varies between 577 and 592 days. It divided the Venus synodic cycle into 72 lots of 8 days week.  At the count end,  one week with up to 8 days were added for a complete cycle count.  

The rock art, in Fig.5, from the Negev Desert Israel is a simple and effective counter of Venus’s Synodic cycle. The three suns like symbol having 8, 9, and 8 rays each (from left to right) are used to count the synodic calendar days.

venus rock art negev desert

Fig.5 Venus calendar counter, Synodic cycle

The count begins from the left sun where each day a stone is placed until it is full. Then a stone is placed on the middle sun and the left sun is cleared. The process continues until all the rays in the middle sun are filled which completes the count of 72. Then one stone is placed on the rightmost sun and the process continues until all the rays on the right sun are filled with stone. This final stone placement results in simple math of (8X9X8=576) exactly as the Elamite scheme mentioned above.


The yearly mismatch between lunar and solar calendars amounted to 11 days. Such a great difference caused havoc for the Mesopotamian administration. All social and regulatory activities were dis-synchronized and a method to verify their accuracy was needed. The solution was to use the Venus cycle to certify the lunar calendar. When Venus aligned with the Sun, and Earth once every eight years the calendars match was verified. 

Venus pentegram in negev desert rock art

Fig.6 Venus pentagram from rock art Negev Desert

Venus influence appears in many rock art in the Negev Desert especially as a symbol of 5 point star, Fig.6. The upper right highlighted pentacle in these stars indicates that the Venus celebration occurred in springtime (see Fig.2).  The Venus rock art, presented here,  shows that people living in the Negev Desert adjusted their calendar by Venus cycles. How this complicated astronomical idea arrived in this remote isolated place is unknown. What it shows that there was a connection between people living in the Negev and Mesopotamia and that ideas crossed a thousand miles into the desolate Negev Desert region all the way from the edge of the Fertile Crescent.



Asia Haleem. (2013) The Venus Cycle and Venus worship in the Ancient Near East
Tsikritis M. (2015)   Astronomical and mathematical knowledge and calendars during the early Helladic Era in Aegean “frying pan” vessels
Nicola Scafetta (2014) The complex planetary synchronization structure of the solar system
Iurii Mosenkis                 Minoan  exact  science: SACRAL ASTRONOMY
Yehuda Rotblum  (2018) Rock Art in Israel


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

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