How absolutely contrary to common sense (for the birds) the mainstream academic position waxes on this issue can be demonstrated by casting a glance at ornithology (bird watching), which is currently in the science news for some new insights on how birds migrate. See Physorg.com and their recent article "30-year puzzle solved: Light guides flight of migratory birds ".
It is not only light from the Sun during the day that guides migratory birds but also star patterns for nocturnal migrations. As written at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey) on the Migration of Birds, Orientation and Navigation :
"Using the artificial night sky provided by planetariums demonstrated that nocturnal migrants respond to star patterns. (quite analogous to Kramer's work on solar orientation, Franz Sauer demonstrated that if the planetarium sky is shifted, the birds make a corresponding shift in their orientation azimuth. Steve Emlen was able to show that the orientation was not dependent upon a single star, like Polaris, but to the general sky pattern. As he would turn off more and more stars so that they were no longer being projected in the planetarium, the bird's orientation became poorer and poorer. While the proper direction for orientation at a given time is probably innate, Emlen was able to show that knowing the location of "north" must be learned. When young birds were raised under a planetarium sky in which Betelgeuse, a star in Orion of the southern sky, was projected to the celestial north pole, the birds oriented as if Betelgeuse was "north" when they were later placed under the normally orientated night sky, even though in reality it was south!"My comment to all of this is - did they expect that birds oriented and navigated by magic? Obvious to this observer is the conclusion that other living things are going to use the same obvious basic systems for orientation and navigation that are/were available to modern and ancient Man, i.e. primarily the Sun during the day and the Stars at night.
But how do we get this message through to the people who occupy chairs of astronomy or archaeology (and related disciplines) at the world's universities? Any suggestions anyone has out there will be appreciated.
Our question for mainstream academia is the title of this posting: "Star Navigation - If it is OK for Birds, why not for Neolithic Man?" [nearly 4 years later - there is still no answer from the blindered men and women in the hallowed halls of the world's universities]
John (*Northstar) replied:
Always enjoy your thoughts Andis. There are also studies that show
that long distance migration is influenced by the earths magnetic
field. Knowing the holistic tendencies of 'nature', there are
probably species that combine visual and magnetic, giving
different 'weights' to both systems. It would be interesting to
know how geomagnetics might counter or buffer precession, as an
example. But I digress...
Nice to see you use the term 'hermetics', albeit in a minimalist
form. We should not be so foolish as to believe that there were
civilizations preceeding all those presently known who were less
advanced than we are now. They may not have used oil for power and
advancement, but they were certainly NOT ignorant.
When I ponder on all the knowledge that was lost in the burning of
the Library at Alexandria, and more recently all the information
cleansed by the Roman Catholic Church in its 'information wars'...it
seems less strange that we would have no knowledge of those coming
long before these events...even if they had advanced language and
sciences. A society frowning on outward manifestations of 'ego'and
limited to natural material may not have left us the clues we are
used to looking for. I applaud you for your continued and accurate
thinking 'outside the box'. After my last error riddled email to
you, I do hope some of your ability rubs off on me.
Best Regards, John