Ancient Fish Symbol
© Prehistory Decoded
Of course, we are familiar with the fish symbol representing Pisces. But at Gobekli Tepe, and later throughout the Near East, Pisces is represented by the tall bending bird - which probably eventually became the Egyptian god Thoth. So when and where did the switch for Pisces from tall bending bird to fish happen?

The earliest potential Pisces-fish symbol might be the carved salmon in the L'Abri du Poisson cave, France (BTW, Don's maps is a simply brilliant resource for Palaeolithic art - how he found the time to visit all these sites, I'll never know). Unfortunately, this fish carving can't be radiocarbon dated, so we can't know whether it corresponds to Pisces or not. But given that we have proven that animal symbols in Palaeolithic art do generally represent constellations, and given the undoubted effort and expertise that has gone into this particular one, it appears to be a good candidate.

We also saw fish carved onto some Mesopotamian seal stamps from around 3200 BC, and wondered if they too represented Pisces (see an earlier post on the origin of writing). If they do, they must be older than thought, because Pisces is the winter solstice only until 3600 BC. From around 3600 to 3400 the winter solstice transitions from Pisces to Aquarius, typically represented by the stag or ibex (see an earlier post 'stag vs ibex').

I recently briefly visited the British Museum in London - Wow! The place is full of stuff we have plundered from around the world. A treasure trove of past misdemeanors, with so many animal symbols. It's tricky to work out which cultures actually knew about our ancient zodiac, and which ones didn't. Not all animal representations are zodiacal - some simply represent animals, as you might expect. Nevertheless, the further back in time we go, the more consistently we observe agreement with our ancient zodiac. It seems the advent of writing, which allowed a more accurate representation of dates, spelled the beginning of the end for our zodiacal system.

Nevertheless, finds from predynastic Egypt appear to consistently agree with our ancient zodiac. We have seen examples from the Scorpion King vase and the Desert Scene grafitti (see earlier posts). Indeed, these artefacts introduced a new kind of zodiacal dating system, whereby if a solstice or equinox is in transition between two constellations, then both symbols are given. This box from predynastic Egypt might be another example of this;
Predynastic Egypt Artifact
© Prehistory Decoded
In this case we see fish and long-horned quadrupeds, possibly representing the transition between Pisces and Aquarius. The presumed date of 3600 to 3400 BC agrees perfectly with its accepted date, equivalent to Naqada 2 (3500 - 3200 BC).

Most recently, we have observed the Pisces-fish symbol on Pictish stones. The Picts don't appear to have developed a writing system, making it more likely that they would continue to use the older zodiacal system for writing dates. But the Pictish stones are unusual. The image below shows a fish (presumably Pisces) together with a goose, which normally represents Libra in our ancient zodiac. The problem here is that these two symbols shouldn't appear together - these symbols are inconsistent in our ancient zodiac. What can this mean?
Gobekli Tepe Pillar_1
© Prehistory Decoded
Well, this goose appears on only one Pictish stone. There are also a few other animal symbols with very low appearance frequencies, like the bull, that are also inconsistent with a first millennium AD date. Possibly, then, these symbols were used rather haphazardly. I suggest they were used, in some cases, simply to advertise a place of solar worship. Perhaps they are the Pictish equivalent of a 'pub' sign.