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Measuring time in "moons"
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The awaited return of the most obvious seasonal signal
The "brilliant" sectors of the sky
An assembly of sacred images

Figures portrayed
by stars in the night,
by nature "dramatic" figures

Why make reference to
seasonal stars.
Measuring time in "moons"

When lunar imagery is combined
with stellar imagery to compose a "mythical cinema"

The human condition
and its development
in the collective memory


French version


The "Metonic Cycle" of 19 years

How did this calendar harmonize lunar and solar cycles? Diodorus does not tell. However, in his famous description of a lost Atlantis, Plato seems to answer the question: he says that every 5 and 6 years there were great ceremonial gatherings. These solemn proceedings were governed by the "the two twin children of Poseidon", named Atlas and Eumelos. A bull was sacrificed. He was captured without using metal, which means we are in the Stone Age.
The final image – strange if it happened on Earth – is that the Bull is "led" to the top of "column" (stule).

It could be that in developing an educational fable for Athenians, Plato used historico-mythical elements handed down (as he claims) by Egyptians who scrupulously preserved the most ancient traditions. Against a background of these fairly precise elements, the regions near the Atlantic, which provide the richest cave sanctuaries, exhibit a ceremony of cyclic renovation carried out when the alignment consists of the celestial alignment (the stule: column and reference) crowned by the bull’s head and with a Giant’s Three-Starred Trident in the middle: this ceremony magnifies the adjunction of a Thirteenth Moon, twin of the preceding "Moon" (Eu-melos: "good agreement). As for Plato’s cycle of five or six years, we have seen that it offers a fairly satisfying approximation (the Athenians used it still in the classical period, always under the sign of Poseidon and his Trident).

However the engraved bone plaque from the Abri Blanchard gives the impression that this usual cycle was apparently considered not useful enough by some religious astronomers who were trying to find better solutions ever since the Upper Paleolithic.

The prestigious gatherings arising in connection with the "Metonic Cycle" or 19-year cycle indicate that this cycle was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable recurrent events in the religious life of the Late Stone Age.

A major advance was made through the ingenious work recently carried out in England by teams of archeologists, paleo-astronomers, historians and technicians of all sorts. They were assembled to determine the original appearance of the stones at Stonehenge and to try to understand why this extraordinarily complex monument was built. They showed that towards -10,000, well before the pyramids were built, religious authorities in Atlantic regions had remarkably precise astronomical knowledge and were able to galvanize masses of people from distant places to come and work at a long-enduring task of exceptional scale.

This recent research showed that the monument was part of a processional path along a waterway that linked a Woodhenge built with wood to Stonehenge built with stone. Observation showed that the tourist-pleasing "capture" of the rising and setting of the sun during solstices was not, as previously thought, the only function of the monument. The observation of the Moon and its position every 19 years also played a role. The 56 pillars apparently evoke the embolistic doubling of the lunar months (twice 28 days). Leading one to think that we are in the presence of one of the major holy sites where the "19-year cycle" was celebrated. What remains to be studied (what this scientific study apparently did not do) was to use the Stonehenge "sighting system" to check the constellation that appeared in its helical rising. This structure was probably built in the same spirit as the Abu Simbel Temple in Egypt: before it was moved, the long, narrow observatory corridor of this building was oriented so that when Orion’s Belt appeared at the end of the night, the following rays of the rising sun suddenly lit up the dark temple, stunningly illuminating the three sacred figures of Osirus.

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