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The Mammoth Riders

by T.R.Holme

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For perhaps millions of years cave bears inhabited the caves of Europe. Twenty foot tall monsters. They moved about in the dark, scratching the walls with their claws... But there came a time when the intense cold of the ice age made the primitive humans desire those caves for themselves, for warmth, for survival, and one by one we evicted the cavebears and made the caves our own homes. In his hard-won caves, in the flickering light of his torches, primitive man's imagination took flight. He saw visions in the bumps and valleys and discolorations and cavebear scratchings of the cave. Sometimes he painted them. A bump on the wall became a mammoth or a vulva or whatever came into their mind. Look on the cavepainting above. See all the side-by-side lines? Not the legs of the horses and mammoths. The other verticle lines. They are the claw marks of cave bears. They resemble the legs of the animals don't they? That is what the artist first beheld. That is where his or her vision was. Here on this wall 31,000 years ago a Cro Magnon artist saw those legs and drew what he saw - horses and mammoths -- their drawn  legs mixing with the clawmarks of the cave bear.

Look closely at the picture. Look up on top of the mammoths. Does it appear to you that there is a human riding on the front shoulders of one of the mammoths? I see the arm with elbow, I see his head and hair, I see his torso, even the curve of his leg and knee, even his foot. Even an antler/flint blade at his side. His left arm originated as double lines made by cave bear claws. The remainder of the picture has been formed around them.  The cave bear scratchings could be ten thousand years older than the painting. Or fifty thousand. But the artist configured the painting within those lines -- the lines resembling animal legs at the bottom, and the human image on the shoulders of the mammoth.

Here is the mammoth rider's left leg and foot just as it is on the wall. It seems to me it would have to be a truly remarkable coincidence if a cave bear has accidently drawn this foot  so perfectly, in exactly the right place and at exactly the correct angle that a human rider's foot would naturally be in if he were riding.

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Here is the same foot after I have removed superfluous lines with Adobe Photoshop. Doesn't this seem to you to be a deliberate artistically created foot?

I myself am an artist. And to my eye, this is an extreemly intelligent composition. Look -- he is sitting in exactly the correct place for a person riding. His  left foot is pointed in exactly the correct direction. His leg and knee is exactly in the correct position. His elbow and hand are exactly in the correct stance and proportion. It really is very clear. And he is holding a stick in front of him that dangles a mass of leaves and vines towards the head of the mammoth. Clearly this is a steering device. The stick is supported by his right foot. Look at the shape of the right foot. It is as perfectly shaped as the mammoths and horses.  

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Actually it is impossible to know what exactly the long filiments are that are on the end of the stick. Vines and such would be a likely guess. But plates of mammoth ivory have been found in the Paleolithic settlement of Malta Siberia with carvings of snakes and mammoths on them.  The vines writhe sinuously like snakes... Perhaps a shaking vine made the mammoth think of the sound of a snake... Shaking the vines in the creature's ear would alter his direction.

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One more thing: look at the mouth. His/her mouth is a perfect circle. Not perfectly round. But the lines begin and end exactly in the same place. Isn't that odd for a cave bear scratch?

Why haven't I read about this Mammoth Rider previously? How could it be possible that no one else has seen this? I wonder if everyone else has so trained their minds to negate the possibility of Cro Magnon man riding domesticated mammoths that they are simply blind to the obvious.

For 300,000 years there have been humans in Northern Asia according to scientists such as A.P. Derevianko writing in 1997.  Following mammoths around, poking them with big sticks. It would truly be an incredible thing if at no time during the ensuing 270,000 years not one single human ever climbed on top of an orphan baby mammoth and took a ride. And if and when he, or she, did -- surely it would start a trend. What is really amazing about it is that it is a fairly well accepted fact that humans did not domesticate and ride the horse until around 5500 BC. So if this is a 30,000 year old cave painting of a human riding a mammoth that is going to set a lot of people busy reworking old theories. But how could humans have conceived of riding a mammoth thirty milleniums ago? Any farmer could tell you what happens when you put a frisky young goat in a close area with anything they can jump on top of, including any large creature. Imagine a Cro Magnon youth chasing a baby goat around in an area where there was also a captive baby mammoth. The goat would be jumping over the mammoth and the lad would be jumping right after him -- and be riding him before the end of the day.

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Considering all the thousands of years that Cro Magnon people were following the mammoths across continents it is impossible to conceive of there never being times when they came into possession of harmless orphan mammoths and took them along with them. The same goes for baby goats and other creatures. Even apes today are known to develop friendships with kittens and puppies and other small creatures. There is no reason to believe that occasionally Cro Magnon people did not sometimes keep alive a small baby animal and let it live among them and get some enjoyment out of it. We know from watching all creatures scamper and play that such is the innocent nature of things and humans are no different. A kitten is a kitten. An affectionate plaything. To a curious ape or to a human being. No higher intelligence is necessary for this to be so. No great amount of evolution. Modern archeologists prefer to believe that domestication of animals did not begin until 9,000 years ago, yet it seems apparent that the mammoth hunters were also mammoth riders, and therefore keepers, and if they kept mammoths they also must have had the occasional goat and horse.

Have another look at the cave painting. Notice that the mammoth pictured has no tusks. Gönnersdorf, Germany is another paleolithic cave site that has many engravings of mammoths. The mammoths there have no tusks either, aside from a few male mammoths with very short tusks. Nor are there tusks on the mammoths on the cave walls of Vogelherd an Geissenklösterle. In fact tusks are noticibly absent in a great many cave art sites of antiquity. It seems possible to me that a mammoth with huge sharp tusks would be a very dangerous creature to keep around one's home for riding purposes. If primitive man actually did ride mammoths they would probably prefer to choose mammoths that had no tusks. Or they would remove the tusks entirely somehow, or at least shorten them. Among modern Asian elephants only the males have tusks. Conceivably this may have also been true of mammoths. So the cave dwellers would only keep females around. Females would give birth and the people would raise the baby mammoths affectionately, keeping the females and sending the males on their way. The relationship between the mammoths and the riders would be very harmonius. And this would explain the absense of mammoth tusks so often in paleolithic cave art.

Though the large scale domestication of cattle and sheep did not occur until the early neolithic. The most recent carbon-dated Siberian woolly mammoth remains are 9,000 years BP. But that does not mean they all died out at that time. More recent remains may yet turn up. In fact they already have.

Wrangle Island is 120 miles off the coast of Siberia. Fossil remains of six foot tall, two ton, woolly mammoths found there have been carbon-dated to only 3,700 years ago, formerly considered "dwarf" mammoths, but more recently considered to simply be a slightly smaller species. The carbon dating of the fossil remains indicates the mammoths lived on Wrangle Island from 7,390 BP. They may have walked across on frozen ice, or they may have swum across. So, apparently woolly mammoths were in existance in mainland Northern Russia as recently as 5000 BC. Siberia was certainly the final homeland of the behemoth before its total extinction, having already disappeared thousands of years previously in western Europe. Wrangle.JPG (53948 bytes)

Chances are mammoths were ridden by Cro Magnon man whereever they existed. They probably rode them to extinction in fact. Because it must have been like riding a huge steaming hamburger as far as any enemies were concerned. Seven tons of barbeque just waiting for the rider to get off and go use the restroom. It would be very difficult for an early Cro Magnon to take a tourist vacation on his mastadon. But maybe they did just that. A land bridge between the continents would not have been necessary if Cro Magnon people rode mammoths. Because mammoths were excellent swimmers and could easily have crossed the Bering strait from Russia to Alaska any time they wanted, with riders on their back, or towing a raft. They could do it even today if they were still around. Journeys back and forth would have been possible, anytime of the year, glacier or no glacier, land bridge or no land bridge. That would explain the mammoths on Wrangle Island too. A tribe of early man might have deliberately taken mammoths to Wrangle Island to keep them from running off while they were away hunting in Alaska. Sure makes sense to me. Makes a LOT of sense. Think about it!

One of my closest friends is an American Indian. I showed him this page. He saw the mammoth rider immediately and does not understand why others refuse to see him/her. And as for the first North Americans riding mammoths across the Bearing strait? That definitely makes sense to him. Me too.


But perhaps it is just an illusion...

I have discussed the Mammoth Rider through emails with two of the world's most prestigious authorities on Palaeolithic cave paintings, Jean Clottes and Paul Bahn. Neither of them agree with me that the lines on top of the mammoth represent a human. Jean Clotte writes about the cave bear scratches that appear to be a human on top of the mammoth: "(were they seen by the people who later came into the cave and did they see a human figure in them?): this is anybody's guess. Personally I do not believe it".   And Paul Bahn writes: "I'm afraid you are seeing imaginary patterns as in clouds or inkblots -- ALL the marks, other than the very white mammoth outlines, are far older, and clearly produced by cave bears -- which by no means simply produce patterns of straight parallel lines.  They can produce all kinds of weird effects -- including many supposed "arrangements" and breakages of cave-bear bones which used to be seen as clear evidence of cave-bear cults, but are now known to be produced by bears blundering about among bones in the dark.  So regardless of how nicely drawn you think the "foot" is, it is clearly far older than the mammoth images.  Just look at the patination.  I think one problem is that you are working from a not-too-clear photograph."

So -- after hearing from them I immediately took this chapter off the internet and thought about it for a week. But I kept looking at the mammoth rider's two feet, how perfect they were, and at the stick that is ballanced over his foot, so perfectly, in such a way that he or she could actually steer the mammoth back in the ages before bit and bridle were conceived. What a fantastic coincidence that this very humanlike figure should be right there on top of the front shoulders of the mammoth, exactly to the inch of where he would need to be if any of the world's greatest artists were to attempt to draw a man riding a mammoth. To be a coincidence? It is just too remarkable. And I feel so strongly about it... So, here I am, way out of my league and way over my head, putting this idea back onto the internet, if for no other reason than to allow others to see this remarkable coincidence and make up their own minds what it means. In all likelihood though, in time the list of people who do not see the Mammoth Rider will become very very long. Oh well. It won't be the first time I have seen something no one else sees.

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What convinced me to put this page back on line may be seen in the image above. Notice the lines of the Mammoths appear thick and white. Those lines as stated by the experts were painted over the other "meaningless" cave-bear-scratches/etc, which appear sort of orangish. Look at the place where the mammothrider sits. The line is NOT thick and white. The artist, for some reason, decided that that area needed to be left without a thick white line. Clearly if he had painted the thick white line of the mammoth's back there he would have had to draw it right through the mammothrider's leg. He didn't want to do that, did he?  Also, in front of his right foot the line has been deliverately left thin and orangeish. Otherwise it would not have been possible to separate the white right foot from the line of the mammoth's back. Like I said earlier: this is an intelligent artistic composition.


Onward to:


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C Copyright Thomas R Holme 2003

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