Venus Calendar Rock Art

Venus calendar rock art negev desert israel

Venus calendar in rock art, Negev Desert Israel

Rock Art and its meaning

Venus’s admiration throughout the years has not been due to her beauty, but rather to the accuracy and simplicity of her astronomical cycles. The Mesopotamians celebrated Venus’s appearance every eight years, which formed an accurate and reliable cycle when she rose as a morning star near the Spring Equinox. Venus symbolized the image of the Great Goddess Ishtar/Inanna and stands equal to the sun’s and the moon’s celestial glory. The Late Babylonian version of The Exaltation of Inanna, describes Inanna’s adoration: 

‘Oh divine mistress, may you be the one that shines over them, that they call you ‘divine source of all life’, at their sides (the Sun and the Moon), in your dominant position, may you gloriously accomplish your (celestial) crossing, even during the time that Sin and Utu are awake…’. (the moon and the sun).

Venus Cycles

Venus’s predictable cycles elevated her to the sun and the moon ranks creating a harmonizing heavenly calendar that verified the match of sun and moon cycles. The knowledge about this calendar spread from the East to the West and far into the Americas.

Venus Octagonal and pentagonal cycles
Fig.1 Octagonal and pentagonal Venus cycles.

Venus’s two celestial cycles form a long and accurate calendar. The first Venus cycle creates an octagon and the second cycle creates a pentagon (Fig.1).  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. A pentagonal cycle occurs when the Earth, Venus, and the Sun are aligned five times in an eight-year cycle. The distance between the vertices of the pentacle is 584 days. Both cycles became Venus symbols in rock art in the form of an octagonal or pentagonal star. 

Venus 8 Year Calendar, Negev Desert Rock Art

Fig.3 shows an ingenious Venus eight-year calendar rock art from the Negev Desert. All the elements necessary for counting the months and years can be found in this image. The wheel contains 12 cavities that count the months. On the left, an 8-branched plant counts the years. The counter works as follows: For every lunar month that passes, a stone is added to one wheel cavity. When the wheel fills with twelve stones, it marks the completion of one lunar year. The wheel is then cleared and a stone is placed on one of the eight plant branches. A new count of twelve months begins until all the plant branches are filled with stones; this marks Venus’s 8-year cycle completion. In this scene on the right side, Venus riding an imaginative hybrid animal, with features of camel and horse, re-enters the heavenly gate to begin a new 8-year cycle journey.

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

Other forms of eight years Venus cycle counters, such as those depicted in Fig.3, demonstrate their utilization in Negev Desert rock art. Their simpler engraving contains only the years and months counters without fancy decoration. In Fig.4, you can see two different rock art pieces that depict an 8-year cycle counter. The left side, on each counter, counts the 8 years and the right side counts the 12 months.

 Venus calendar 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

The five-pointed star is a common symbol that appears in many rock art associated with Venus. Venus’ pentagonal cycle creates a five points star that became her symbol. An alignment between the earth, the sun, and Venus forms the star pentacle vertex every 584 days, which is called a synodic cycle. Five of these alignments occur every eight years, creating a five-pointed star as shown in Fig.5.  

Negev desert rock art. Venus Star,
Fig.5 Venus five-pointed star, Negev Desert rock art

Already in 4000BC, the  Elamite calendar utilized the Venus synodic cycle, which lasts an average of 577 to 592 days. They divided the Venus synodic cycle into 72 lots of 8 days each. At the count end,  one week with up to 8 days was added for a complete cycle count.

Fig.6, rock art from the Negev Desert, shows a simple and effective counter of Venus’ Synodic cycle.  It consists of three sun symbols with 8, 9, and 8 rays each (from left to right) that count the synodic calendar days.

venus synodic cycle calendar rock art negev desert
Fig.6 Venus calendar in rock art, Synodic cycle counter

Each day is counted by placing a stone on one of the rays of the sun, starting with the left sun. When the left sun fills, counting continues to the middle sun after clearing the left sun. In a similar way, the counting continues until all rays in the middle sun are filled with stones, which concludes the count of (8X9)=72. Counting continues by clearing the left and middle suns and adding a stone to the rightmost sun. Counting continues on the left and middle suns until all rays of the rightmost sun are covered. Upon filling all the rays with stones, the count amounts to (8X9X8=576). The counting cycle is completed when the Earth, Sun, and Venus are aligned. 


The yearly mismatch between the lunar and solar calendars amounts to 11 days a year. The yearly difference caused chaos for Mesopotamia’s administration, desynchronizing social and regulatory activities. The solution was to use the Venus cycle to certify the lunar calendar.  The lunar calendar is aligned with the solar calendar once every eight years when Venus aligns with the Sun and Earth.

Observations of Venus rock art show that people living in the Negev Desert adjusted their calendars based on the cycle of Venus. The Venus knowledge crossed a thousand miles from the edge of the Fertile Crescent into the desolate Negev Desert region, confirming the existence of a cultural link between the people of the Negev Desert and Mesopotamia.


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, is available online.

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