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Archaeoastronomical Investigations of the Prehistoric Anthropogenic Influences on the Karst Near the Village of Bailovo, Sofia District
Fig.1 Horizontal plan with two vertical sections of the observational ground of the rock-cut monument.

The rock-cut monument (sanctuary) near the village of Bailovo is created in a small travertine massif, containing four caves with numbers from 2958 to 2961 in the main card-index of the Bulgarian caves, situated along the valley of Smolska river. Caves are known to the local people as Kalugerski or Monastery caves and are situated at 5 � 15m height above the local erosion basis. Specific signs made in the soft rock have been discovered on the walls of two of them. The cave with number 2958 is shaped in the form of parallelepiped after processing, opened to the south. It is visually connected with an artificial observational ground at the highest point of the travertine massif (Fig. 1). The ground is carved into the rock. There are two trenches with a trapezium cross-section at the opposing edges of the ground, oriented in the plane of the main celestial meridian in north-south direction. The openings of the caves are oriented to the South and the same in form and shape carved into the rock signs have been found (Fig. 2). Because of the similarity of the images depicting different phases of the Moon they have been named as Lunar just in the beginning of the exploration.

Fig.2 Sketch-map of the places with lunar images in the caves and cliffs near the Smolska river, Bailovo.

Two hundred and forty images have been registered at the rock-cut monument and 126 of them are outlined, 37 are carved into the rock, and 77 are bas-relief. Their dimensions are different and the diameters are in the range of 24 � 88cm. In several consecutive publications [1, 2, 3] we give enough proofs that the closed semicircles (19% from the whole number of images) made with the three kinds of carving are images of the Moon in different phases (Fig. 3). Comparative table of the images on the cliffs shows very good coincidence with the natural lunar phases on the celestial sphere (Fig. 4). Additionally, it has ben found that the per cent correlations of the signs of different phases towards the common number of images at the sanctuary are proportional to the visible lunar phases during the dark part of the twenty-four hours, juxtaposed for an interval of one synodic month (Fig. 5).

Fig.3 Different in form and size lunar images carved into the rock.

Most of the elements of the rock-cut monument near the village of Bailovo coincide with the basic characteristics of these monuments, systematized by us in [4]. This monument could be assigned to rocky sanctuaries honored in a large region, continuously functioning, and lien remote from larger settlements. The systematic observations of the Moon were kept by images on the rock, which were also for worship. Something more, the consecutive changes of the lunar disk are connected in groups of signs � engraved registrations of determined time intervals. The read notes show periods connected with different climatic seasons, vegetation cycles, and time between different cult festivals etc. [5]. Thus, we can make the conclusion that notes of long time periods made after systematic and purposeful observations of the visible motion of the Moon and its phases have been carried out for a long period of time. Most probably, the minimal chronological boundaries of existence are in the period of 350 years. The usage of three kinds of execution most probably shows the presence of three kinds of synchronously denoted records with different semantics. Even though records could be connected with economic, cult and religious activity, or with registration of socially significant events, their reading today is almost impossible because of the lack of signs for the initial and final epoch of recording.

Fig.4 Comparative table of the images on the cliffs and natural lunar phases on the celestial sphere (from above to bottom � carved, bas-relief and outlined images, real phases of the Moon).

In a later epoch, cave �2961 has been used again. Frieze of bat guano monochrome drawings have been made straight on the lunar images on the walls. The drawings and signs on the cave walls are mainly on the north-west wall passing consequently the opposing wall and the south-east wall. Massive calcite flow formations cover part of the drawings along 16 m of the south-east wall (Fig. 6). Small part of the signs were drawn with a violet mineral paint. In Fig. 6 they are presented as unfilled contours and their form and dimensions show that most probably they are fingerprints.

Fig.5 Per cent correlations of the signs of different lunar phases towards the common number of images at the sanctuary juxtaposed with the visible lunar phases for an interval of one synodic month.

An archaeoastronomical investigation of the frieze of monochrome paintings has been done. It has been accepted that they were simultaneously painted and connected between each other according to their meaning [6]. Records of linear and geometric symbols� combinations in unitary unpositional counting system have been decoded. The symbolic sign � anthropomorphic Sun with two concentric circles and radial beams going out of the inner circle, where human face is added (Fig. 7) � has been interpreted as position of the Sun in equinoctial point of the ecliptic. Some of the cross-shaped signs of the time intervals� records have been determined as signs of the first dawn stars� appearances called heliacal rises. The chess model of three rows has been read as a sequence of light and dark squares, which depict day and night (Fig. 8). It has been supposed that the record should be decoded from right to the left and as a beginning the chess model situated next to the north-east edge of the cave entrance should be accepted. This day has been accepted as a beginning of the calendar year and it has been connected with the Sun passing the point of the winter solstice.

Fig.6 Frieze of pictograms, ideograms of ideas and numbers in cave �2961 near the village of Bailovo.

The Betelgeuse and Antares heliacal rises are the following astronomically significant phenomena � before the vernal equinox marked with the anthropomorphic Sun. Heliacal rises of Sirius and Aldebaran have been determined among the rest of the cave drawings. First appearance of Sirius is marked with a sign added in a circle, which could be connected with the strong flickering of the stellar image on the night sky. This is an optical phenomenon connected with strong turbulent motions and the dust in atmosphere during the summer. The calendar is dated back to 3500 BC. The heliacal rises and extreme sunrises in one tropical solar year have been calculated by the use of the computer program SKYMAP Pro 6.

Fig.7 The symbolic sign "anthropomorphic Sun".

Destruction of part of the drawings and signs by treasure-hunters as well as the overlay of massive calcite crust does not give the possibility of ascertaining the duration of the year. The five cyclically repeated astronomically significant events make this calendar suitable for multiple uses. A possibility of determining how many and which the festivals and rituals during the year are, when and how they were celebrated, have been given with such decoding. They are presented as pictograms, by which, even the main participants in the festivals could be identified. In general, winter hunting festival, coming of the vernal equinox, mystery of the ithyphallic scene, etc. could be specified. In later researches [8], additional corrections in the interpretation have been made. The frieze fragment, which is in the period between winter solstice and vernal equinox (21 December � 22 March period according to Gregorian calendar), has been read. Conclusion has been made that the year duration is 365 days divided in time intervals covering the climatic seasons winter, spring, summer and autumn. Worshippers accompanied with bull heads and signs symbolizing power insignia took part in different festivals (Fig. 9). Grouping of the days in time records followed the tendency of 5 day weeks forming as these time records were still not unified in months.

Authors: Alexey D. Stoev
Penka V. Muglova

Fig.8 The chess model of three rows of light and dark squares, which depict day and night.

1. Stoev A., V. Gerassimova � Tomova, T. Stoytchev,. Complexe de grottes pres du village Bailovo, Region de Sofia (Bulgarie) et son utilisation par l'Homme. - Proceedings, II, 10-th International Congress of Speleology, Budapest, 1989, pp. 330 � 331

Stoev A., Stoytchev T., Moon observatories in the Bulgarian lands, Interdisciplinary studies, v. XVIII, AIM-BAS, Sofia, 1991, pp. 137 -144.

3. Stoev A., P. Muglova, "Moonarium" in the Caves Near the Village of Bailovo - Art Gallery devoted to the Moon God or Moon Callendar, European Conference on Speleology, August 21-23, 1992, Belgique.

4. Stoev A., Varbanova Y., Positional Systems for solar and lunar observations in the archaic cultures in Bulgaria, In Astronomical Traditions in Past Cultures - Proceedings of the First Annual General Meeting of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC), Smolyan, Bulgaria, 31 August - 2 September 1993, pp. 93-100, Sofia, 1996.

Fig.9 An ithyphallic scene with part of the participants in a festival probably organized after the Sirius heliacal rise.

5. Stoev A., P. Muglova, Rationality, Validity and Reliability of Astronomical Observations during Neolithic and Eneolithic Ages, Proceedings of the Third SEAC Annual Meeting, 1-3 September 1995, Sibiu, Romania

6. Gerassimova�Tomova V., T. Stoytchev, A. Stoev, Astronomical symbolism in rock cave painting., Jurnal "Interdisciplinary studies", v. XVIII, AIM-BAS, Sofia, 1991, pp. 203-213.

7. Stoev A., V. Gerassimova � Tomova, T. Stoytchev,. Complexe de grottes pres du village Bailovo, Region de Sofia (Bulgarie) et son utilisation par l'Homme. - Proceedings, II, 10-th International Congress of Speleology, Budapest, 1989, pp. 331 � 333

8. Stoytchev T., Studia Archaeologica, Vol. 1, Arhaeoastronomy: Time-measuring prehistoric evidence in Bulgaria., AGATO Publishers., Sofia, 1998, pp. 134-143, in Bulgarian.