Computer analysis confirms antiquity of the Cosmic Hunt motif

'Ursa Major' by Sidney Hall (1825)

It’s a shame this piece doesn’t acknowledge the pioneering work done by William B. Gibbon in the ’60s.1 Gibbon traced the Cosmic Hunt mythical motif – especially the formation of the constellation Ursa Major – from Palaeolithic Siberia, across the Bering Strait into the Americas. This detailed computer-aided phylogenetic analysis is useful and fascinating, but in some sense it also makes the ‘manual’ labour of people such as Gibbon – who seems to be decisively vindicated here – even more impressive. Still, the broadening and deepening of the path beaten by previously sidelined scholarship is very welcome.

Also of interest here is a link drawn between the Palaeolithic cave art in Europe and the Cosmic Hunt motif across the northern hemisphere. It seems to give some credence to my speculation (based on Clayton Eshleman’s work2 ) that these caves forms ‘a hallucinatory analogue of the sky’ (see ‘The Cave and the Sky’).

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