Venus Calendar Rock Art

calendar rock art venus cycle negev desert israel

Venus calendar in rock art, Negev Desert Israel

Rock Art and its meaning

Ancient rock art suggests that the admiration for Venus is not solely based on its imagined beauty, but rather on its reliable astronomical cycles.  Every 8 years, the Mesopotamians celebrated Venus’ arrival as a morning star near the Spring Equinox, forming an accurate and dependable cycle. In Sumerian mythology, Venus was revered as the embodiment of the Great Goddess Ishtar/Inanna and held in the same high regard as the sun and moon. The Late Babylonian version of “The Exaltation of Inanna” praises the goddess, saying:

‘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 the planet to the ranks of the sun and the moon by creating a harmonious heavenly calendar that verified the match of sun and moon cycles. The knowledge of this calendar spread from the East to the West and far into the Americas.

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

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. 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.

Rock Art in Israel. Venus calendar rock art,
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.

Calendar rock art. 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.

Calendar un Rock Art from Israel. Venus synodic cycle .
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 which takes approximately 584 Earth days to complete.


Venus calendar was a significant aspect of ancient astronomical knowledge and was widely recognized and utilized by various cultures. The rock art in the Negev Desert, Israel, is an example of the importance of the Venus calendar, as it features various symbols and counters depicting the octagonal and pentagonal cycles of Venus. The rock art depicts the Venus calendar as a tool for counting lunar months and years, as well as the synodic cycle of Venus. These intricate and ingeniously designed rock art pieces demonstrate the high level of astronomical understanding of the ancient peoples and their reliance on the Venus calendar in their daily lives. The yearly mismatch between the lunar and solar calendars amounts to 11 days a year. It 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 synchronized with the solar calendar once every eight years when Venus aligns with the Sun and Earth.

The Venus-related rock art in the Negev Desert suggests that its inhabitants used the planet’s cycles to adjust their calendars. The Venus cycle knowledge spread over a thousand miles from the Fertile Crescent to the Negev Desert, proving a cultural connection between the desert-dwellers and those in 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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