"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Lesson in Critical Analysis for Archaeology and Astronomy: The Midheaven Plaquette (Plaquette #2) of Les Varines, Jersey (near St. Helier) ca. 7600 B.C.

Plaquette 2 of Les Varines, Jersey (near St. Helier) is deciphered here in this posting as representing the stars of Midheaven ca. 7600 B.C., marked as points, figures or lines of joined stars, just as modern stellar constellations are drawn.

The Midheaven Plaquette of Les Varines, Jersey
Please click on the image to obtain a larger, resizable image.


The decipherment image above consists of a map of stars -- created by Andis Kaulins, August 28, 2020, using Starry Night Pro astronomy software -- which map is superimposed on a lightened graphic of Plaquette 2 to better show the imposed stars, a graphic based on photos found at PLOS ONE in Artists on the edge of the world: An integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands) and BBC News of 19 August 2020 at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-53835146. See the *** footnote at the end of this posting for full credit to the photographic original image, governed by a Creative Commons Attribution License, .

As per our decipherment, the top left of Plaquette 2, the "Midheaven Plaquette", which shows the midheaven of stars of the starry night, is focused on the star Tau Herculis as the North Celestial Pole (which thus dates Plaquette 2 to the approximate date we use for our star map, ca. 7600 B.C.):
"Tau Herculis is a visible star located within 1° of the precessional path traced across the celestial sphere by the Earth's North pole. It was the northern pole star around the year 7400 BC, a phenomenon which is expected to reoccur in the year 18,400 due to precession....

The current pole star is, of course, Polaris. Among the 14 stars that could be reasonably ... considered eventual northern pole stars, Tau Herculis is the dimmest, but only Polaris itself and Thuban are closer to the precessional path."
Recall that we are comparing a map carved onto stone 10,000 years ago with a modern map of the stars made with high tech today, so that one can not expect exact overlapping when large star sections of a star map are shown. But if one examines smaller sections of the star map, one can see the identity of some sections easily, starting with the brighter stars that formed the outer perimeter shape of the plaquette, and moving inward to stars that marked unique shapes of lines in the stars, even though these can be somewhat shifted in position.

For example, look at the curved line of stars underneath the North Celestial Pole, or view the tail of Draco, clearly outlined in the middle the plaquette, just as it is drawn on a modern star map. Note also the near match of the Celestial Meridian and Ecliptic Meridian and the relative positions of the North Celestial Pole and the North Ecliptic Pole.

We have made a graphic of one smaller section of the star map, somewhat shifted in superimposed place to show the identity of positions of the stars with the lines drawn on Plaquette 2, as follows, for stars just to the right of Pherkad and Kochab in Ursa Minor:

Connecting the Dots


The identity is indisputable and it is impossible that it exists by chance, since the resulting figure is complex and intended as such. It is clear that the ancients were drawing the stars by "connecting the dots", as it were.

A few things must be said about the academic professions involved in this work.

The profession of Archaeology has a lot to do with discovering viz. "digging up" ancient artefacts. Such work can be painstaking and rigorous and we have a great deal of respect for those who do it.

However -- this MUST be said -- the ability to "find things" of prehistoric interest buried in the ground does not necessarily go hand in hand with the subsequently necessary talent to analyze correctly what has been found, a task for which not every "finder" is predestined. Human abilities are specialized. We have no interest to criticize anyone, rather, our goal is to make sure things are "gotten right", which they currently are not, about mankind's ancient history.

The profession of Astronomy has become a high tech industry in our modern day, but astronomers need to develop a better understanding of how ancient stargazing led to modern rational science long before the invention of the telescope or our modern focus on theoretical black holes and dark matter. Ancient prehistoric astronomy had a direct relationship to Earth and mankind. Modern astronomy oft provides no direct connection to humanity and sometimes forgets the importance that the starry night of stars once had to everyday life.

The "Midheaven Plaquette" of Les Varines, Jersey, Channel Islands, UK -- for so we have herewith named it -- is very much a case in point as a kind of avant-garde object lesson.

That plaquette is known in the original research paper as "Plaquette 2" of the 10 plaquettes found at Les Varines, but one can see from the image above that Plaquette 2 is correctly called the "Midheaven Plaquette", because it represents the "mountain" of stars seen at Midheaven by the ancients, as explained by us in our recent previous postings at:
We repeat.

Please understand that we are not criticizing any particular individual in this posting or in our decipherment work. Criticism of people is not our objective and it brings nothing to anyone.

Rather, we aim to help "educate" the various disciplines that deal with prehistoric periods -- occupations and professions that in our view are in great need of up-to-date reform and improvement through the use of probative evidence, as we have previously posted over many years, e.g. recently in The Donald Trump Presidency: Expectations and Results in Our Age of Disruption in a Rapidly Changing World, where we wrote:
"The Trump political situation can be compared with the problems of modernity confronting establishment Archaeology and related disciplines such as Oriental viz. Biblical Studies, which remain stubbornly backward (of course, in part by the retrograde nature of their study), and out-of-date, because they are not sufficiently pushed from outside to get out of their cozy rut.

The "history industry" is dominated by academics who continue doing what they have always done, story-booking how they think the past was, based on often tenuous authority-based rather than evidence-based "opinions", as presented, e.g. in conclusory documentary films, as if no alternative "stories" existed and as if all questions had been resolved, which is by no means the case.

Hence, the history industry has gotten many things wrong historically viz. pre-historically. The entire field of ancient studies, historical and prehistorical, is marked by what we view to be a glaring absence of analytical critical thinking and a lack of sober consideration of alternative explanatory solutions.

What are needed in the historical disciplines are disruptive people and ideas to "shake" the establishment out of its slumber.

Even in modern technology and media, We Live in an Age of Disruption. Just imagine then how rusty things are in the other "older" arts and sciences."
What we thus see here in the case of the "Midheaven Plaquette" of Les Varines is in our view quite typical for Archaeology as also for the History of Astronomy. Our lesson in critical analysis applies to these disciplines broadly and equally. Let's start to get it right with ancient artefacts, many of which are, as Eusebius wrote long before us, devoted to the subject matter of "astronomy".

Let us now turn again to Les Varines and especially "Plaquette 2". As reported by Paul Rincon, BBC Science Editor, just last week (19 August 2020) at the BBC News website in Earliest art in the British Isles discovered on Jersey in the course of a cooperation between the Ice Age Island project and the British Museum, ten archaeologically so-called small flat "engraved" stone "plaquettes", some with drawings and sketches -- but only on one side -- were excavated between 2014 and 2018 at the allegedly Magdalenian site of Les Varines in Jersey (see in 3D) (just North of St. Helier), Channel Islands, United Kingdom. See also Archaeology Magazine.

We say "allegedly Magdalenian" because -- based on the stars in our decipherment -- we must date Plaquette 2 to ca. 7600 B.C., long after the end of the Magdalenians according to current mainstream chronology.

We have held a long-standing megalithic interest in the Channel Islands and especially in the great mound of La Hogue Bie on Jersey (located not far from Les Varines), about which we find written at Wikipedia:
"La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic ritual site which was in use around 3500 BC. In Western Europe, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves... [A]t sunrise on the Spring and Autumn equinox ... the orientation of the passage ... allows the sun's rays to shine through to the chamber entering the back recess of the terminal cell....


Just look at that massive megalithic entrance! The above photos via Megaliths.net show the author of this posting in front of and then entering the "terminal cell" inner sanctum of La Hogue Bie, Saint Saviour, in Jersey, UK (49°12'02.2"N 2°03'49.7"W), September, 2000.

Our astronomical interpretation -- already from the year 2002 -- of the figures found in that inner sanctum of La Hogue Bie, as illuminated by the Sun at the Equinoxes, is shown below. See the inner sanctum video at La Hogue Bie on Facebook.


Contrary to the irritating "newbie" spelling La Hougue Bie and the folks-etymological "big hill" etymology assigned to it, which we view as incorrect, we think that the name has a derivation related to Scottish Hogmanay, start of the New Year. Note that the inner sanctum figures mark Midheaven at the focal point and that in our decipherment of the figures there is a direct representation of the Celestial Meridian marking the Spring Equinox:

It is significant that La Hogue Bie, dated to 3500 B.C., and Les Varines and its plaquettes, in our opinion incorrectly assigned to the Magdalenians and through that erroneously dated ca. 10,000 years older than La Hogue Bie, are only about 3 kilometers viz. 2 miles apart on Jersey. And what happened in the intervening more than 10,000 !! years!?

Our date of 7600 B.C. for the Les Varines plaquettes, on the other hand, meshes well with the beginning of a resettlement era in northern Europe after the last Ice Age known as the Holocene, starting about 10,000 years ago.

Here is a comparison of the location of megalithic La Hogue Bie to the location of the Les Varines plaquettes of an alleged much earlier Magdalenian Era. Please note that our location map below is made up of two composite Google Maps, as we have added the label here for the location of Les Varines.


The original research on the discovery and interpretation of the ten Les Varines (49°10'59.6"N 2°05'01.2"W) plaquettes was published at PLOS ONE in Artists on the edge of the world: An integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands).

Take a close look at the published photographs of the original plaquette ("Plaquette 2") in question and then compare the interpretative drawings reproduced there, supposedly representing the subject matter drawn on the plaquette.

We can state here categorically that those subjectively selective, simplistic drawings and interpretations are clearly erroneous. But, you, the reader must ultimately decide.

Take a look at a zoomed photo of "Plaquette 2" and compare the markings on that plaquette to the recently published interpretative drawings.

Our opinion: those incomplete drawings are purely subjective interpretations, which is no surprise, as mainstream archaeologists and astronomers in fact apparently have no real idea what those markings on "Plaquette 2" represent. Well then, guesswork is no answer. By contrast, we are not "guessing". Rather, we are superimposing a star map on a plaquette and saying, "there you are" -- that is the answer. LOOK and see for yourselves.

We suggest therefore, that the situation can be corrected by following a few simple rules of "simple scientific method", which are as follows:
  1. Until a researcher or research team has examined all alternative possible explanations, one should not draw any subjective conclusions about what has been discovered. For example, in a worst case scenario, a researcher who subjectively hopes to find mammoths or wooly rhinoceroses drawn on an artefact, because that would fit the alleged artefact era, may indeed claim to find such drawings, even though they may not really be there. Wishful thinking is not science, Check and recheck. THAT is science. Consider EVERYTHING as a possibility, not just a pet theory, or the school of thought of prevailing academic opinion.

  2. As regards prehistoric drawings, figures, carvings, paintings, etc., always consider as a possible explanation the alternative solution that the paintings, drawings, carvings or figures that you see, as also those found on the background of such "art" -- such as the carved stone on which the Lascaux paintings were made  (which the mainstream has thus far ignored) -- had an astronomical significance.

    The ancients wanted to know where they were and what they were doing here on our planet Earth. The sky was their heavenly map, applied to the ground, "as above, so below", and surely became the origin of their "heaven-based" religious beliefs.

    We have been interpreting megalithic culture for 40 years and can state without doubt that many archaeological findings worldwide of ancient cultures are in fact astronomy-based, i.e. "ancient stargazing" as it were.

    We use the term "stargazing" because many modern astronomers seem to discount any kind of astronomy, particularly of the ancient kind, that is made without telescopes and without modern paraphernalia. They are "above it". But it may be advisable to understand the importance of astronomy to humanity, by relearning the beginnings of stargazing  to see the starry sky as ancient mankind saw it.
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*** Credits taken directly from the cited PLoS article are as follows:

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