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Gobekli Tepe Archaeoastronomy and the Second Hill of Osiris


The naming of places in the ancient world was a serious affair, particularly with regard to temples. A name enshrined the purpose for which the site was intended, or reflected a truth about its history. Thus, understanding the real name of Göbekli Tepe offers the greatest clue as to why people of a forgotten era created a monument that is both out of place and out of time.

Its ancient Armenian, and probably oldest name is Portasar, and it breaks down into two syllables: port (navel or umbilical cord), identifies the site as a Navel of the Earth, a seeding place where the knowledge of the gods was first deposited. Where such epicenters exist throughout the world, wisdom spread across the land like ripples, touching the uncivilized and the brute and elevating the potential of humankind.

The second syllable asar is revelatory, for it is none other than the original name of Osiris , primary Egyptian deity and lord of the Otherworld. It can be said, then, that this hill is the Umbilical Cord of Osiris.

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Portasar’s most fascinating stone circle is Enclosure D. Its organic material has been carbon-dated to c.10,500 BC (Schmidt, K.) suggesting people were present here three hundred years after the meteorite strike that triggered the Younger Dryas. By the same token, C-14 dating of the wall mortar protecting this enclosure offers a range of 9990-9600 BC, suggesting activity at the site one hundred years either side of the meteor strike that generated the great flood and the end of the Younger Dryas. It would appear that someone came to this hill in Anatolia to construct what appears to be an observatory or a library in stone, then carefully packed up the site and left prior to the destruction about to unfold.

Gobekli Tepe Archaeo-Astronomy of the Northern Sky

What does astro-archaeology have to say about the actual construction date of Enclosure D, the one featuring thirteen T-shaped pillars, each carved with a plethora of animals and symbols in relief, many with astronomical connotations? It has been suggested that the pillars were aligned to reference the setting of the northern constellation Cygnus. (Collins & Hale).

Gobekli Tepe pillar. (Teomancimit/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

It is an elegant theory, except it omits one glaring obstacle: the stone circle is not on the summit of the hill but sits approximately twenty-five feet (7.62 meters) below the horizon line, making it near impossible to observe and mark descending or ascending objects with any accuracy in the northern sky.

Secondly, with rare exceptions, ancient people typically commemorated the rising of astral objects or their highest position in the sky, not their setting.

The Gobekli tepe stone circle sits below the horizon line. (Rolf Cosar/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Perhaps a reexamination is in order. As the Sun descended below the horizon on the winter solstice in the epoch of 10,500 BC, a person standing in-between the two massive central pillars looking north would see Vega, the star then closest to the celestial pole, glistening like a jewel at 352º, the same alignment as the central pillars; Vega's position is marked by pillar 43 along the perimeter, while its 20º elliptical rotation around the celestial pole from sunset to sunrise is framed within the field of vision of said pillars. Most importantly, Vega's altitude at the time makes it clearly visible above the summit.

Northern exposure, Gobekli Tepe, winter solstice 10,500 BC. Vega and Lyra circling the celestial pole. (Author provided)

Vega’s name derives from the Arabic waqi (falling, swooping), and refers to a time when the rotation of its host constellation Lyra was seen as a swooping vulture. (Anissimov, M). That was during the epoch of 10,500 BC. This might explain why pillar 43 features a prominent relief of a vulture with outstretched wings, one of which touches a circle, and two smaller, less mature vultures stand on either side. Seen together the birds appear to be describing Vega’s circling of the celestial pole, and its diminishing brightness as it completes this nightly circumpolar journey.

The Vulture Stone of Göbekli Tepe. ( Alistair)

Looking to the Southern Sky

The siting of Enclosure D below the summit suggests the northern sky was perhaps not the primary aim of the monument. Turning to face south at the same time Vega appears in the north, the belt of Orion rises briefly above the horizon, its narrow arc framed by pillars 19 and 33, with pillar 32 marking the constellation’s highest ascension in that era.

By comparison, the epoch of 9600 BC — the late C-14 date for Enclosure D — sees Vega rising 10 degrees further to the west, well outside the alignment of the central pillars and certainly out of alignment with pillar 43; meanwhile Orion has barely shifted a few degrees to the southeast and remains acceptably within the pillars' frame of reference.

So, what are we to make of this combined reference to the pole star and the ascent of Orion’s Belt c.10,500 BC? Taking the hill's original name Portasar — the Umbilical Cord of Asar — Osiris is himself associated with Orion , and his dwelling place is Giza, the plateau identified in Egyptian texts as Rostau, a gateway to the Otherworld. Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert have convincingly shown how the foundation plan of the three main Giza pyramids mirror the alignment of Orion's belt during the epoch of 10,500 BC, this time during the spring equinox, while the central pyramid references the north celestial pole. (Bauval & Gilbert)

Southern exposure, Gobekli Tepe, winter solstice 10,500 BC. Orion’s Belt at its ascendent. (Author provided)

An Armenian Giza Plateau?

Could Göbekli Tepe be an Armenian Giza Plateau, an extension of the house of Osiris? Certainly there exists a geodetic relationship between the two locations. Taking the 39.6º alignment through the corner of the pyramids of Menkaure and Khufu, an umbilical cord extends 700 miles (1126.54 km) along the surface of the Earth to Göbekli Tepe. The margin of error is 1.5º, a miniscule discrepancy given ten thousand years of plate tectonics.

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A view of the pyramids at Giza from the plateau to the south of the complex. From left to right, the three largest are: the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Khufu. ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

Göbekli Tepe's deliberate southeastern exposure and siting below the summit isn't just referencing the sky. If one follows the central T-pillars of Enclosure D, finessing the eye through pillars 32 and 19, it is possible to see the ancient observation tower of Harran twenty-five miles (40.23 km) away which, back in the day, was far taller and served as a landmark.

Harran lies in what used to be north-western Mesopotamia, and archaeological artifacts date human activity in the region to c.8000 BC. Its earliest name was Harranu, the nearest translation being Path of the Anu. It was once a major center for astronomy and home to the Sabeans, a group of sages who were among the ancient world’s keenest observers of the stars: in fact the name derives from the Egyptian Sba (star). (Prag, K)

Harran, Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey. (Ben Bender/ CC BY SA 3.0 )


Gobekli Tepe Archaeoastronomy and the Second Hill of Osiris - History

As a disclaimer, I'm a big proponent of outsiders contributing to unrelated fields and do so myself as an archaeologist in tech. The way to do it is not by ignoring prior work done in the field, but instead by engaging with it constructively. These authors haven't really done that and it shows in the quality of this paper.

While the 'impact' hypothesis is certainly unsettled, there isn't much controversy in the hard sciences. The great majority of over 200 papers published in the last dozen years certainly establishes the presence and dating of fallout from major (probably multiple) extra-terrestrial sources in that era. That evidence is in accordance with multiple Greenland ice-cores.

Whatever the purpose of Gobekli, it's only one data point in a long and growing list of recent discoveries and observations. Human history in the early Holocene will be re-written as a result.

If there is so much smoke there's gotta be fire.

If you look at last glacial maximum, sea-levels were 110-120m below where they are today. They rose from below 100m to 0m in a matter of only about 8000 years (13000 BC to 5000 BC) [0]. Persian gulf region was fertile land, got flooded and turned into a gulf. The sea-level rise was observed˾xperienced all over the world.

At one point the sea-level rise was so fast it was 2-3m in one lifetime. This much vertical change in coastal regions can change the landscape by 100s of meters horizontally. So you could be living in that time and hearing stories from your grandfather about the vast amount of land that got flooded over his lifetime.

Word-of-mouth "history became legend. Legend became myth" (to quote LOTR).

Written history did not start until much later (Gilgamesh

450BC, neither considered serious/rigorous historical works. I guess Gilgamesh is considered fiction.).

I think it's a highly valid theory that sea-level rise led to flood myths in so many regions and so many religions all over the world.

Australian oral traditions record social upheavals when people moving out of the flooded Sahul region (between present Australia and New Guinea) had to negotiate shared use of the high ground that had already been populated for at least 40,000 y. It seems a safe guess that it would be traumatic to have to leave an area your people have lived in for tens of millennia.


Prehistory Decoded

Significance: Gobekli Tepe (GT) probably represents the origin of civilisation for most of the world today. Most of us are connected to it in some way, through language and religion (proto-Nostratic), or genetics at least.

The Pillars: GT is famous for its anomalous megalithic pillars, and especially the symbols carved on them. Most people think these symbols are telling an important story - they are not just random pictures of animals. Klauss Schmidt, who discovered GT and led its excavation, until his death in 2014, certainly thought so. It follows that the only way we will ever be able to properly understand Gobekli Tepe, and therefore the origin of civilisation, is through reading its pillars.

Deutsche Archaeological Institute: the DAI operates the Gobekli Tepe dig. Despite the immense significance of the site, they continue to have a casual disregard for the information encoded on its pillars. Over 60 pillars have been uncovered, but only around 20 are documented by the DAI. Although many have no symbols, even 25 years after the site's discovery there is no single resource available that describes all its pillars. Good photos of some of the pillars can be found in journal papers, but these are often behind a paywall. Many other photos of the pillars can be found on social media platforms, but these often lack the details desired.

Aim: my aim here is to circumvent the DAI's ineptitude, and present as much information about the symbols on GT's pillars as I can find to create a public resource. Please let me know if I have missed anything.

The Younger Dryas impact: in Prehistory Decoded, I lay out the basis for an interpretation of GT's pillars based on the Younger Dryas (YD) impact, circa 10,785 - 10,885 BC, likely caused by our encounter with the fragments of a comet from the Taurid meteor stream. In essence, it seems our civilisation began with a bang!

Ancient Egypt: symbolic connections between GT and Ancient Egypt (AE) are also very strong, in addition to the obvious similarities in terms of megalithic architecture and astronomical religion. Klauss Schmidt thought so too - he pointed out several connections himself, despite their cultures being separated by nearly 5000 years and 500 miles. As GT represents the likely origin of civilisation for most of the world, connections between GT many ancient cultures, like the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, are to be expected. I therefore highlight further possible connections where they are likely.

Astronomical symbolism: throughout, I take it as given that GT's symbolism is astronomical. Apart from the self-evident sun and moon (eclipse?) symbols on Pillar 18, and the likely Pleiades symbols on the base of Pillar 18, it is extremely likely that the animal symbols represent star constellations (see here) and are connected to much more ancient Palaeolithic cave art. Many scholars today accept the primacy of astronomy in ancient myth and religion, although proving this is difficult before written texts. So the DAIs unwillingness to consider an astronomical interpretation for GT is actually quite odd, and shows how modern, fashionable archaeology is ill-equipped to study these ancient sites.

Maps: GT is huge, as the ground penetrating radar scan below shows. The excavated portion is detailed bottom-right on this scan, including Enclosures A to D shown in green. A larger map of these four enclosures and their pillars is shown after. Enclosure H is on the northern edge of the larger radar scan map.

Pillar 1: Central Pillar of Enclosure A, the snakes likely represent meteors, while the ram likely represents the constellation Aries. This pillar therefore likely depicts meteors from the direction of Aries, or approaching Aries, and therefore might represent an aspect of the Taurid meteor stream.

Connections to AE are likely in terms of the Uraeus symbol (Klauss Schmidt suggested this himself) as well as other serpent deities (such as Apep and Nehebkau), and with Amun in the New Kingdom who was often represented as a ram (Aries was the spring equinox constellation during the New Kingdom). Of course, we also have the Lamb of God, aka Jesus, in Christianity, which likely derives from the Jewish sacrificial lamb, which itself likely derives, again, from the spring equinox constellation Aries.

Serpent symbolism is seen across the world's religions (not least as Satan himself in Christianity), so the snakes seen here are probably not the earliest representation of meteors by snakes we will ever find. Since Klauss Schmidt's death, the site's archaeologists have taken a more 'fashionable' (in archaeological circles) view of the symbols - they think the snakes on this pillar depict a garment for example!

Pillar 2: The second central pillar of Enclosure A, likely depicts the sequence of constellations, Capricornus (bull), Aquarius (fox) and Pisces (tall bending bird), which would likely have been the path of the radiant of the northern Taurid meteor stream circa 10,000 BC. Possibly, this pillar represents the name of that meteor stream.

We know the Taurids exhibit longitudinal precession of roughly 30 degrees every 6,000 years, which equates to about 4 hours along the ecliptic from today's radiant path if translating to 10,000 BC). This means the current path of the Northern Taurids shown in Stellarium (mid-Pisces through Aries to the end of Taurus) would translate to mid-Capricornus through northern Aquarius to end-Pisces, as shown on Pillar 2. The fox, though, is facing the wrong way, so I have reversed Aquarius in the image below.

Similarities with the Cartouche writing convention of AE is clear - see an example in the middle below. See also a stone plaquette (below right) found at GT, which has a similar structure. Possibly, this stone plaquette tells the story of the comet god (trident symbol) who attacked and killed (explosion symbol) the cosmic serpent god (falling snake symbol) who fell to Earth, perhaps a mythical description of the Younger Dryas event. It is a myth, the 'chaoskampf', repeated in many religions, including by the Ancient Egyptians (Set vs Apep), Babylonians (Marduk vs Tiamat), and Christians (the fall of Satan). The site's archaeologists interpret this stone plaquette simply as the sequence (the other way up), snake, tree, bird, with no further meaning.


Staying Safe from Cataclysmic Events

But we now know this view is wrong. It is a delusion. Uniformitarianism is dead and should be buried. In any case, every scientist should automatically be suspicious of it. In technical terms, uniformitarianism is an extreme form of ‘extrapolation’. It proposes that only the geological process we have witnessed over the last few hundred years (corresponding to the scientific revolution) can have ever happened on Earth, or at least within the last few million years. It effectively ignores rare events, in particular those originating from space. But as any decent scientist knows, rare events often dominate complex systems, like Earth’s environment. And, in general, extrapolations are normally avoided altogether in science, or used only with great caution. So why has uniformitarianism been so popular?

I’m not sure of the answer to this. Possibly there is a psychological dimension to it. Perhaps, speaking generally, we would rather not confront the dangers that face us, especially if there is little we can do about them. Nevertheless, from a scientific perspective, uniformitarianism is wholly unsatisfactory and needs to be binned.

How can I be so confident of this? How can I state with such assurance that most of academia has got it wrong, while I and at least 70 other scientists (including the Comet Research Group) are right? Well, apart from the lunacy of uniformitarianism, there are three major lines of physical evidence the cataclysm to draw on, each of which is iron-clad and revolutionary in its own right.

Combined, they all point in the same direction to provide an unassailable paradigm changing case. Briefly, there is the geochemical, astronomical, and archaeological evidence.

Beginning with geochemistry, it is now known that a disaster of cosmic dimensions struck earth nearly 13,000 years ago. Nanodiamonds, microscopic iridium-enriched magnetic grains and elevated levels of platinum, all of which are strong indicators of a comet impact, have been found at the base of the Younger Dryas Boundary (or Black Mat) – a ubiquitous layer of discolored sediment dating to the onset of the Younger Dryas mini ice-age. Their presence, spanning at least three continents, has been confirmed by multiple independent research groups within the last 10 years. Moreover, a frozen layer of platinum dust occurs in the Greenland ice sheet at precisely the same time ‘horizon’. Attempts to refute this evidence are badly flawed in a fundamental and surprisingly basic way.

The Younger Dryas ‘black mat’. (I mage courtesy of the Comet Research Group, a uthor supplied)

Next, there is the astronomical evidence. Observations of comets beyond Jupiter, the frequency with which they enter the inner solar system, and their fragmentation within the inner solar system , all suggest that intense comet impacts on Earth with global consequences are expected on the timescale of human development.

Distribution of the Younger Dryas Boundary. ( Image courtesy of the Comet Research Group author supplied)

Moreover, observations of comet fragments accompanying Encke in the Taurid meteor stream, along with the massive zodiacal dust cloud, strongly suggest they should also have occurred on the even shorter timescale of human civilization. Indeed, it would be a major surprise if none were found. Therefore, an event on the scale of the Younger Dryas impact nearly 13,000 years ago is entirely expected.

Break-up of comet 73P, Schwassmann-Wachmann, observed with the Spitzer Space Telescope. ( Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/W. Reach, a uthor supplied)


The Cathedral

We’ve talked about how Gobekli Tepe was constructed and how the people organised themselves but what exactly were they building and why?

The enclosures at Gobekli Tepe are constructed in the form of an oval, though they are sometime described as being “womb” shaped, with the entrances to the enclosure located in the south / south east. Entering from the south visitors are immediately greeted by two large upright t-shaped pillars, standing side by side, with a sighting (porthole) stone located between and between the pillars in the enclosure wall. Some enclosures are simply dominated by the twin pillars whilst others, most notably Enclosure D, have additional smaller pillars placed around the enclosure perimeter.

The carvings at Gobekli Tepe vary in content and density from enclosure to enclosure. Enclosure A has a high number of snakes whilst C contains a high number of boars. Enclosure D is covered in snakes, foxes and the image of the crane. Archaeologists have also been able to determine that the enclosures were intended to viewed by walking /processing clockwise (sunwise) around the circle based on the locations of high and low relief carvings around the enclosures.

According to a survey by Joris Peters and Klaus Schmitt entitled “Animals in the symbolic world of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey: a preliminary assessment” the distribution of images across the then four excavated enclosures are

Snakes 28%
Pictogram 18.6%
Unidentified 11.1%
Fox 14.8%
Boar 8.7%
Crane 6.2%
Aurochs 3.7%
Wild sheep 2.5%
Asiatic wild ass 1.2%
Gazelle 1.2%
Leopard/Lion 1.2%
Brown bear 1.2%
Quadruped 1.2%

Some modern observers present the variety of animals represented indicates that construction was carried out by particular clan/family groups which associated themselves with a given animal. Others see the animals as representing heavenly events, particular in the case of the snake and the fox. The snakes are suggested to, in some instances, actually represent the aurora borealis and be a memory in stone of a large scale solar flare which forced the northern lights so far south that they were visible in southern Turkey. Foxes and in particular fox tails (which make an appearance on the upright Pillars of enclosure D) are seen in other indigenous cultures, such as Native American Indian tribes, as a representation of comets and their tails and many comparative mythology scholars will apply the same interpretation to Gobekli Tepe.

In terms of star lore associated with carvings the type most paid attention to are the birds which appear in Enclosure D. The majority are described as being representative of the Crane, whilst some see vultures and flightless birds also represented. The association made here is quite detailed, and deserving of focused attention so I will return to exactly what star is being represented and it’s importance to the ancestor cult many scholars attach to Gobekli Tepe.

Going back to the pillars themselves, the upright t-pillars are set into shallow depressed carved out of the limestone bedrock, giving the monoliths an inherent sense of ethereal stability. Although they are in no danger of toppling over in of themselves they do vibrate when struck by the hand, in a similar way that the blue stones of Stonehenge also vibrate when struck with a rock. Archaeoacoustic work carried out and published in 2017 show that the stones at Gobekli Tepe will resonate at a low frequency known to effect our brains consciousness (binaural beats) and Andrew Colin’s suggests that the resonance could be maintained in the presence of a chorus of baritones, though it is just as likely that the participants kept regularly beating on the stone. The study showed that the effect was largely confined to the enclosure itself, though people immediately by the entrance would feel the effect and resonance as well.


45 thoughts on &ldquo What is the connection between Göbekli Tepe and… &rdquo

Like you, Oliver, but in the late 1950s, when Gordon Childe’s account of the European Neolithic was the uncontested key text, and before there was any radio-carbon based chronology, I learned about the megaliths of the Atlantic and North Sea coastlands, and their possible links from southern Spain back through Malta to Cretan “tholoi”. We have much more information, and we have calibrated radiocarbon dating to help establish some, but it is still very difficult to think how these various kinds of more or less contemporary, Neolithic,megalithic monuments around the edge of Atlantic and North Sea relate to one another. You chose the iconic Stonehenge to stand for them all, but of course, henge monuments and stone circles are particular to Britain, and Stonehenge in particular is quite unique. I believe that two things about Stonehenge are helpful in prompting our thinking about Göbekli Tepe, however. First, as you say, the Stonehenge that we see as visitors today represents the final stage in a long, long history of construction, reconstruction, re-modelling. I know that detailed study at Göbekli Tepe shows that the major circular enclosures and the T-monolihts within them are the end-product of a complex history of construction, reconstruction, and re-modelling. But we don’t yet have the kind of long-term evolutionary history that we have for Stonehenge that describes how a relatively simple circular bank and ditch around a circle of pits that contained cremated human remains grew in ambition and complexity over the long term. The second point of relationship between Neolithic Stonehenge and Neolithic Göbekli Tepe concerns the scale of the “community” that came together to create these monuments. You speak of the extensive area of around 200 km from which communities came together to join in working and feasting at Göbekli Tepe – was it an early Neolithic “aggregation site”, an evolved descendent of the kind of aggregation sites (e.g.. Kharaneh IV) that are beginning to be known from the Epipalaeolithic of the Levant? Concerning Stonehenge, we have known of the geological origin in southwest Wales of the bluestones, but recent work by Mike Parker Pearson and others is showing that large numbers of people came together periodically in the area around Stonehenge, accompanied by much feasting (as at Göbekli Tepe). So I don’t think that it is correct to think that Stonehenge and the other monuments in the area around it were the work of the local community. I am pretty sure that that isotopic analysis of the bones in the feasting remains indicates that the animals that provided the meat had been driven to the area from all over Britain. So perhaps Stonehenge and Göbekli Tepe both represent central places where many related communities came together to memorialise and make a reality of their strength as “super-communities”.

You are absolutely right about the catchment area of Stonehenge, ‘local’ was meant to emphasize that there is most likely no direct connection between Stonehenge and GT. Corrected that in the text.

Perhaps you should include in this list the pyramids in Bosnia because of the proximity of the location to GT, and because of the probably contemporaneity. For a brief summary, although almost a decade old, please check
http://www.gizaforhumanity.org/scientific-analysis-of-the-bosnian-valley-of-the-pyramids/

One can find at the end of the linked text that the organic material remains found embedded in the walls of those pyramids were C-14 dated to be 29-34 ka old, which if true would put them in the time while Neanderthals still lived in the area. But, one should take into account that properly built pyramids (including these) are somehow able to permanently diminish the natural level of radioactivity by up to 2/3 (if I recall the value correctly, this is still research in progress). In that case, such reduction makes them contemporaneous with GT.

What is your opinion on that ?

Judging from the evidence I have seen, my personal opinion is that there are no man-made pyramids in Bosnia. Of course, everybody is entitled to an own opinion here.

I too have looked into the Bosnian pyramids and found insufficient evidence that they are anything but natural. I will keep following the archaeologists’ reports in case new evidence comes up.

Interesting article, Oliver. Thank you. I agree that there is no realistic chance of direct contact between these sites nor even of influence, given the distances in time and space.

I do believe there is a common factor, though, and that is that these were all gathering sites by people with the same basic needs and same basic brain structure – all made significantly different by culture and environment. My research shows common factors in the mnemonic practices of oral cultures all over the world to do with the way they encode vast amounts of information without writing. The commonalities occur because of the most effective ways to memorise information using human brains which include song, dance, mythology, memory palaces, decorated posts, formalised art works and a vast array of decorated objects. Without writing, oral cultures had a need to memorise because of their dependence on huge data banks on pragmatic knowledge (animals including invertebrates, plants, navigation, astronomy, timekeeping, geology, genealogies, laws, land management, inter-tribal agreements, ethics … Ceremonies along with an array or oral and physical mnemonic technologies enabled this capacity. Non-domestic gathering places structured according to the optimisation of memory palaces, along with enigmatic decorated objects are two of the signs of these mnemonic requirements.

From my reading of the archaeology of Göbekli Tepe and the other sites you mention, I am convinced that a primary (though not only) purpose was to enhance the memory systems of the elders gathering, learning and teaching there.

I adore this site because of the practicalities of the discussions by the archaeologists involved. Thank you.

I absolutely agree with you and Trevor – the sites mentioned certainly served very similar social functions for the societies that built them. Maybe I should add a few sentences on that topic. What I wanted to do within these few lines is to show that there is no evidence for direct genetic/evolutionary connections between these sites – because we get a lot of questions regarding this aspect.

“there is no evidence for direct genetic/evolutionary connections between these sites”

I don’t think that you can emphasise that enough. Do you get questions about global consciousness and similar concepts linking the different sites? I do. I would appreciate knowing how you reply. As a science writer, I’d need more evidence than the anecdotes and beliefs that I hear so often to believe such consciousness exists. That is another reason that I think that the “no connection” message is really really important.

Oh, that´s interesting. We haven´t had any questions regarding global consciousness yet. I was aware of the Global Consciousness Project in Princeton, but so far have not seen any possible connection to our work. Thanks for pointing this out, we definitely should prepare some answers here. The questions we are getting are more ‘old school’ so far, mainly related to the spread of the ‘megalithic phenomenon’ through migration.

In the link that I supplied above, which you apparently never visited, one can find that those pyramids are arranged in a perfect equilateral triangle, a side of which measuring 2170 metres. This is almost the number of years in one month of precession, signifying that the builders knew about the precession, and about the size and shape of Earth (2160 is value used by Egyptians). Coincidence ? What is the chance for such a coincidence ? What are the chance that those 5 pyramidal hills’ are all aligned to north with laser precision, better than the man-made Giza pyramids ? Or that they are made of concrete, as they apparently are ?

From that text:
�: …Egyptian geologist Dr. Aly Barakat, who came through the Egyptian Government to give his opinion about the site, after 42 days he spent in Bosnia, announced at the press conference in June that Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is the combination of natural and anthropogenic forces – man has shaped existing hill to the geometry of pyramid, with four triangular sides and later coated with stone blocks. He called it first “primitive pyramid”.

– Two weeks after Dr. Barakat’s announcement the meeting was held in Cairo between Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Supreme Council for Antiquities. On Agenda was “***effects of discovery of Bosnian pyramids to Egyptian tourism***”. After the meeting Dr. Zahi Hawass (***politically***) proclaimed that “Bosnian pyramids are just the pile of rocks”

2007: …Team of four Egyptian experts officially (thru Egyptian Government) came to investigate project: Dr. Nabil Swelim (archaeologist and Egyptologist, ***discoverer of four pyramids in Egypt***), Dr. Aly Barakat (geologist), Dr. Mona Fouad Ali (archaeologist from Cairo University) and Dr. Soliman Hamid (archaeologist from Cairo University).
Conclusion after 15-day visit, which was announced publicly, was that the “Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is the biggest pyramid in the world.”…”

While I can agree that there are no connection between GT and those far away monuments from much later times, there are a few peculiar details that indicate a possible connection between GT and Bosian pyramids:

1. The internal corridors of Bosnian pyramids were deliberately buried, and are now being laboriously excavated, just as was and is the case with GT, indicating the same style of decommissioning, not otherwise present elsewhere.
2. Both sites are approximately contemporaneous and in relative proximity one to another, making cultural links quite possible.
3. Another Younger Dryas Boundary event monument ? If so, then their beliefs were the same, although the ways of expressing them differed by many orders of magnitude in size.

That said, you might continue to defend the Egyptian tourism by ignoring the supplied evidence, or you might consider what that evidence means to GT (no, it does not make it tiny in comparison, but a part of the bigger whole), and then make your judgment.

There´s nothing to add to my earlier comment.

It is agreed that these cultures, under discussion, had no direct connections with each other. It is also agreed that the sites served similar social, and cosmological systems. But the comparing of architectures can be misleading as this perspective is biased by how we, today, define architecture. Ancient societies were much more “holistic” than today. They wove, science, politics, and cosmology into one fabric. They were also in possession of a system of communication that is nearly subliminal to present day researchers. Because this system had its pictorial aspects that is what attracts the eye and the system itself goes, pretty much, unnoticed.

The structures of Gobekli Tepe, the Maltese, Stonehenge, Menorca, and Easter Island all used the ancient system of depicted sign language to organize their structures. Some people recognize bits and pieces of the underlying system in the different cultures and this gives rise to conjectures (sometimes wildly so) that all these ancient cultures were, somehow, in direct contact with each other.

Depicted sign language was highly positional as it was based on a transposition of gesture signs. Thus we see that both at Gobekli Tepe there are depictions of Arm and Hands that are positioned, “on the sides.” Also we see the “T” shaped gesture sign employed in as the Nose and Brow on the Face of the Moai that indicates, “below.” The Maltese “temple” is completely composed of signs that indicated that its function as an Oval “turning-place” of the spirit. The signs indicate that it was considered “a center-portal” located between the east and the west. Stonehenge used the gesture sign for a Circle to indicate, “the great one, on the hillside or mountainside.” This was a common phrase among a great many ancient cultures meaning “a great leader” and his relationship to a place higher than the common man. The Menorca structure is a combination of the “T” shape for “below” and the Pi shaped sign for, “a portal” from the underworld to “the surface-place” or “upper-world.” All of the above used depicted signing to illustrate aspects of a cosmology that was kept quite uniform over time and space due to the use of the language itself.

“No man-made pyramids” could mean that they were built by Neanderthals, or some other species of homo, or even aliens.

Perhaps you should just clarify whether you think that there were no artificial pyramids in Bosnia ?

Yes, no artificial pyramids in my opinion. And, as I said, everybody is entitled to forming his own.

Yes, of course, everyone is entitled to have a personal opinion.

However, considering that you are a professional archaeologist, I am just curious on what kind of evidence should be supplied for you to change your opinion in this particular case ?

Artefakts and a cultural layer clearly associated with the site, tool marks on the stones, plausible scientific age determinations, for example.

The stones were made of concrete, not carved, so no tool marks. The same type of concrete that the Romans used.

The soil sediments on top of the pyramids were dated to 12 ka. This is how old (young) they are.

Organic material found inside the walls of the pyramid (between the bricks, in the mortar) was C-14 dated to 29-34 ka. But, the pyramids were also found to have unusual electric properties, not presented on ordinary natural hills. One peculiarity is substantial reduction of natural radioactivity levels inside the pyramid, even though one can expect the opposite in caves due to radon buildup. This makes the age assessments based on C-14 samples taken from within the pyramid unreliable.

Few artifacts were reported, some of them shown at 1.12 point on the supplied link. Stone amulet is quite peculiar in my opinion. One can only build such a thing by casting (of concrete). The presence of concrete, in my opinion, is a sufficient proof of artificiality.

Cultural layer is still lacking. I think that they are primarily focused on excavating the pyramids themselves, not looking for those who built them. They are focusing on proving the artificiality, but not really expecting the man-made possibility, nor speculating on who built them or why.

I’ve read these things before. That’s exactly why I don’t believe in these pyramids. With a building project that big, there’s just no chance to not discover massive traces of human activity. And there is far too much speculation and odd-looking reasoning involved in the scientific dating attempts.

You are correct, for man-made pyramids of this size there must be massive traces left of human activity.

Yet, how come that the very presence of concrete is not enough as a proof of artificiality ?

I have seen no evidence for concrete. But if so, as you said, (real) concrete is a Roman innovation. How does that fit with the presumed early date?

First 6 steps of the Khafre pyramid are of solid concrete, so it is not the Romans who invented it.

This is highly disputed. And there is no evidence for a pre-Younger Dryas civilization. At the end of arguments speculation begins.

Suppose that long time ago somebody invented concrete, and built these pyramids. Then came the Younger Dryas event and destroyed that civilization, back to stone age.

Or, which is also possible, barbarians invaded.

One myth:
In ancient, Zep Tepi times, Osiris went to teach wisdom to Earthlings. He went all the way to India and back. Then he went to Thrace (Balkans) and for the first time he found an equal match in wisdom. He had to fight and kill a barbarian king there, after which he returned to Egypt.

That is only a myth, but it refers to Thrace as being a civilized place, before there was a civilization in Egypt itself.

All arguments are exchanged and everything remains as it was before. You want to believe, I don’t.

Thank you for another enlightening piece Oliver, I always enjoy reading the various contributions to this blog by the different members of the team (i.e. yourself, Jens and Lee).

You’ve raised an important point here. I think its a strange feature of human psychology, likely rooted in some kind of primeval instinct, that makes us look for patterns and shared meanings where, in fact, their are none. The task of science is to deal with evidence-based data and hypotheses, not metaphysical speculations. As you note, these are all megaliths separated by geography, time and other factors.

That said, I noted an interesting discussion earlier in the thread between yourself and Lynne regarding “the similar social functions for the societies that built them”. In this respect I cannot help but think of the Maya civilization and the ancient settlement of Ceibal in Guatemala (circa. 950 B.C.), their oldest settlement, which seems to have begun life as a place where a diverse collection of hunter-gatherer groups assembled to build religious festival sites that were the origin of their later cities. The Maya developed in complete geographical isolation from the Old World, and many thousands of years after Gobekli Tepe (making contact, obviously, impossible) but I can’t help but be gripped by the impressive similarities from a sociological perspective.

As Inomata, one of the archaeologists working on this site has noted:

“The ceremonial complex was the first architecture built at Ceibal. Durable residences were not built until two to six centuries later. The collective activity of building temples and worshipping eventually encouraged integration of the diverse traveller groups and the growth of an urban centre, rather than the other way round.”

My understanding (please correct me if wrong) is that a similar sequential progression occurred with Gobekli Tepe in terms of social function, with its social use being as a ceremonial complex for hunter-gatherers prior to the emergence of sedentary living/agriculture and indeed probably helping to ultimately facilitate the latter, in the sense that religion spurred the need for building activity which in turn led to cooperation.

By the way, if I may ask: has Lee Clare made any further progress with that paper on Rene Girard? I’m very eager to read something on it!

The Maya example is really interesting and certainly would be a great topic for a sociological comparison with GT. There are some gradual differences though, I think.
In the Near East, an semi-sendetary lifestile (sedentism during times when abundant plant ressources were availble for example) is attested from the Epipalaeolithic onwards (Ohalo, Abu Hureyra). GT and similar sites may have accelerated the process towards domestication/full sedentarism by generating a need for surplus. GT´s layer II is very different from the earlier layer III, whether we have constant domestic activities there remains to be seen.
In any case, GT ends at the moment when full domestication becomes visible in plant and animal remains, it seems to have been entangled too much with hunter-gatherer ideology to be useful beyond that point.

The article is still in press, we will definitely post something here when it´s out.

Many thanks Oliver, I understand the difference you have noted between the Maya continuing to use Ceibal as a ceremonial complex after full domestication/sedentarism (indeed ultimately constructing their first city around the site, after centuries of hunter-gather usage) and GT being abandoned at this “sedentarism/domestication” phase given its presumed entanglement with hunter-gatherer belief, such that GT had now outlived its original purpose/function.

Still it intrigues me that both sites appear to testify to the fact that megalithic construction, motivated by (in all likelihood) religious beliefs, preceded agriculture/full sedentarism in two completely unconnected (both in terms of distance and time) parts of the globe, the differences you’ve noted notwithstanding. If they both followed the same path in being built by nomads rather than farmers (as used to be thought), perhaps that tells us something profound about human cultural evolution.

I am really enjoying your discussion with Oliver on this fascinating blog post, Sean. Apologies for the length of this reply, but your comment strikes right into the heart of my research.

I would just like to question the phrase: “megalithic construction, motivated by (in all likelihood) religious beliefs”. I would argue that megalithic construction is motivated by the need to maintain the knowledge system on which their physical and cultural survival depends. My academic field is primary orality – the communication and knowledge systems used by cultures with no contact with writing. Without literacy, they have an alternative – orality.

My PhD and subsequent research and books are about the way non-literate cultures record vast amounts of pragmatic information without writing. Some studies here in Australia show that 70% of the songs performed at the large gatherings – corroborees – are about animal behaviour, plant properties, laws, tides, timekeeping and so on. The knowledge system is integrated – that is ‘religion’ is enmeshed with the mundane and pragmatic. There are no gods as such, but mythological characters whose stories ensure the information is accurately retained.

Cultures which are no longer nomadic, but still mostly hunter-gatherer, such as most Australian Aboriginal tribes, moved between a number of sites during the year or sometimes a longer cycle. They were (some still are) mobile cultures, but not wandering nomads. Among a whole swag of memory methods, they use the landscape features not only for navigation but as memory guides to perform rituals (by definition, repeated events – nothing more can be assumed) which repeat the songs, stories and dances which encode the entire knowledge system. Much of this encoding is done through the use of mythology because vivid stories which assign character to plants, animals and abstract concepts, are far more memorable than a list of facts.

In order to settle, they must localise these landscape memory trails (in Australian terms, they are songlines, for Native Americans they are pilgrimage trails, for the Inca they are ceques, in the Pacific they are ceremonial roads …). There are songlines recorded for the Yanyuwa people of northern Australia which cover over 800 km – all retained in memory! I am constantly amazed by this stuff the more I research into it.

On settling, my thesis and books argue, it is essential to retain the mnemonic indicators by localising them. Monuments structured to act as memory palaces are essential to retain these memory locations through transition to large scale sedentary societies. There are a lot of indicators which need to be present before you can assume a site was primarily, but not exclusively, a memory palace. Once a culture gets large enough to have specialists, then the elders who retained power through control of knowledge (as it is with Australian cultures, Native American and so on) give way to power based on individual wealth and coercion, if they stay put and grow as a society. That is a massive generalisation and each site is distinct and needs to be analysed as such. It depends on the culture, the environment and the materials available among many other things. But there are neuroscience studies about the way the human brain functions best to memorise information: memory palaces (associating information with place), music and narrative being key. For small-scale non-literate cultures, large gatherings at ceremonial centres are essential for the transmission and repetition of knowledge, much of it pragmatic. The gatherings served a multiplicity of purposes, though, including trade, finding marriage partners and just having fun. Trade included the trade of knowledge. There are a lot of material indicators of a site being used this way – too much for a blog comment.

So I look at the archaeological reports of the sites Oliver refers to in terms of the way the design and function would serve the memory systems. It will only be one of a complex of functions, but I think that it is a pretty important one. But only time will tell how the archaeological world responds to my ideas.

” megalithic construction is motivated by the need to maintain the knowledge system…” I fully agree with you on this. The images on GT, Enclosure D tell a coherent narrative. Yet, these people were not entirely illiterate, but proto-literate. There are several letters used on the pillars as pictographs (‘H’, ‘I’, ‘V’, reversed ‘V’, ‘-‘, arc, handbag, triangle, even the animals themselves). All together, they give a message about… Younger Dryas Boundary impact event.

The important difference in tradition between Australia and northen hemisphere is the trauma of the YDB event. It knocked out the mammoths et al. After that, the surviving people of the northern hemisphere all developed a profound interest in celestial ‘affairs’. I argue that almost all of the northern constellations were named (or renamed) back then to commemorate that event.

The previously debated fox paper presumes that the constellation names existed before. I argue that the names to constellations were given to describe the YDB event, which is why the authors of the fox paper found them on pillars. What is your opinion on that claim ? How would a traumatized society of hunter-gatherers react on such an event ? Would it be logical for them to name stars and constellations to integrate such unique event’s experience into their system of oral tradition ?

Lynn and Sean have a major point to make. The simllarities can never be explained away via mathematical probability. Oliver is trained to look into the subtlest of differences and makes important remarks. Yet, there are some huge similarities between these structures in addition to their differences which can/will be/are explained just like their simliarities. Sumerian civilization tells a lot about these societies. Compare them to animal life human progress in other parts and the similarties will appear very sgnificant in terms of beliefs and social context/progress. And also the emergence of class society!

As you can see from the comments, everybody agrees here that these sites may have served similar social purposes for their builders, e.g. For gatherings. Thus they share some characteristics, like prominent placement in the landscape, monumentality etc. They are however not directly interrelated, and none of the sites mentioned is Sumerian.

Interrelatedness is a result of migrations!

There is no way people have come up with such unlikely and unnatural themes/events each on their own. Mathematically speaking, all you will need to do is to write down each similar component of these monuments, riturals, social structore, cohesion, gatherings and check the likelihood of a natural evolution happening each on its own.. these are extremely specific human behaviours.that require complex tasks.

Unfortunately people do not talk about the migrations of the last 25000 years yet geneticists keep coming up with facts and proofs of these migrations out of Siberia/Central Asia. Otherwise impossible to explain similarities of totem poles in Northwest America and Gobekltepe, Shigir Idol Russia. Even a concept of totem pole is a very very unnatural thing that would require a set of thoughts and beliefs as well as social organization that cannot happen independant of each other. The last 50000 years is what made all major human changes possible and many migrations can be mapped since.

As for the Sumerians, a look into their mythology reveals all the Siberian/Cetral Asian hunter gatherer rituals and some of them can be seen in Gobeklitepe, and maybe of help in Gobeklitepe research since they are the earliest written records of humanity.

As for the differences: Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish people cannot reasonably communicate with each other in their own language even though their vocabularies are 70% similar and these languages stem from the same vulgar Latin of 1000 years ago. Divergences and common roots for major civiliziatons is a fact of life and the idea is to check for both and why

Also proof of the fact that Sumerian are Turks.can be seen at sumerianturks.org and anyone can fact check any of these resources on their own.

Thank you for your interesting comments, Mehmet. I would appreciate expansion on why you say this: “Even a concept of totem pole is a very very unnatural thing that would require a set of thoughts and beliefs as well as social organization that cannot happen independant of each other.”

I have argued that the concept of totem poles is a very natural thing for the human brain. I have many examples of similar topologies from Australia and New Guinea as well as the better known ones you quote. One of my mnemonic experiments based on technologies from oral cultures is encoding information to a post with abstract symbols – in fact so abstract that it is merely the rings in the verandah post design – and it still works well as a memory device for a sequenced set of narratives.

I am convinced that the similarities seen across these sites relates to the way the human brain memorises using a swag of technologies as mentioned in my comments above. Totem poles – or other forms of decorated posts and stones – are common precisely because to the way they relate to human brain structures and natural memory systems. I have no doubt that these similar technologies happened independently of each other, but happy to be proved wrong.

I am very interested to know why you think that the concept of a totem pole is unnatural from the neuroscience or any other approach. I am only just starting to delve into the neuroscience of memory with some very helpful scientists, but what little I have read indicates that any objects which use place from the landscape and skycape to smaller versions such as totem poles, are highly memorable and consistent with the findings in research into the cerebellum grid cells and the way they encode spatial information. But I am very far from knowing what I am talking about yet!

It strikes me that that the references to particular ways in which humans produce very similar structures, be they of wood, stone or earth have far more to do with the ways they react to concepts that are common to all societies than they have to the similarities in those structures.
There are a number of ways in which communal attempts to project or embody the supernatural may produce physical structures and more often than not there will be a superficial resemblance, as in the case of ‘totems’, whether of wood or stone: they are relatively easy to produce and erect and lend themselves to carving. Collections of such enhance the effect and offer an increasingly potent centre for communal gatherings. A collection of pillars may lead to a working structure, and so on..Their function as ‘memory palaces’ need not be primary though, even if that role is coincidentally very significant. I would have thought the immense work involved in constructing a Stonehenge or a GT for a far-flung hunter-gatherer population suggests a motivating power in the realms of belief in a supernatural power rather than one at the more mundane level of tribal/social affiliations.
In short, it is the way all societies have reacted to the unknown and uncontrollable that is the common ground, not the shape of the structure, particularly since the significance of particular structures fades over centuries, never mind millenia: we struggle to comprehend the significance of features built in the Iron Age, like hill ‘forts’, so what price Someone involved in the construction of Stonehenge, cerca 3000BC, knowing the mind of a builder of GT?

Of course, the promise of big eats and a giant party would be an added extra!

One should have in mind that the hunter-gatherer cultures were substantially more mobile than the later sedentary farmers. People roamed the wilderness, encountered each other on occasional festivities-gatherings and exchanged their tales and stories. Some of these were legendary and of global importance, so they survived, written on monuments.

It is my impression that people grossly underestimate the ability of ideas, carried by individual people, to travel.

As I reported on the 2nd fox page a week ago, to which nobody commented more, images on GT pillars represents groups of stars, as viewed from various places on the Earth, describing as mnemonics events that took place there. this type of writing is exceptionally clever for recording locations and times, aside from stories. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody cares about it.

Since this page is about other monuments, separated wildly in time and space, I should add that the story depicted on the Vulture Stone establishes a direct (cultural) link between the *7-stone-antas people* (3-4 ka BC, Iberian peninsula) with the GT people.

I have added a very brief paper on the Maltese Temple. It demonstrates how the depicted signs were organized to create the model building. it also tells us what the building represented. It is easier to show how the signs were used pictorially than to describe them in writing.

Klaus Schmidt noted a similarity between the taulas and GT, but was completely wrong when dismissing this comparisson by assuming that there were no drawings at all in the taulas. Recently, I have discovered something that shocckingly passed unnoticed/uniterpreted by the archaeologists until this time. The biggest taula of Menorca, at Trepucó, exhibits 29 parallel engraved lines on its southwards surface. These carefully drawn lines are at 50º from the horizontal. The taula is riented towards the sunset/sunrise at the solstices. The taula is North-South aligned with the talayot (tower-like building) behind it. But what is in my opinion the most exciting evidence, is that one of the lines is not rectilinear, but shows, near the center of the taula surface, a very clear breakup, a sort of “S” shape, or “Z” shape, that very closely ressembles the well known planetary figure of apparent retrograde movement which is visible when observing Mars, or even Jupiter or Saturn. All these evidences point towards one only possible hypothesis: The taulas were built with astronomical purposes.
Moreover, these pillars that are called taulas are carefully designed, so they exhibit precise gemetrical realtions beteween its dimensions (height, width, thickness). The work of Ibáñez Orts proves that these relations are evidence of advanced mathematics, and when put into perspective with the geometrical signs, including five point stars found in cave burials of the culture in Menorca, indicate the probable presence of the mathematical-astronomers-musicians pythagoreans there.
Regarding GT, the excellent work of Sidharth proves that also the pillars there show representation of astronomical figures, avidence that, together with the Rig Veda key, talk about “hymns in the sky”, which again points towards the pythagorean central idea, that is that the Cosmos had an order, and that it was mathematical, and more particularly, musical, but only understandable for the initiates, just like the Rig Veda says: “These hymns (Rks) are writ on the highest heavens, wherein are situated the shining ones what can he understand who knows not this but they who know it are here present.”.
So, it seems evident that in GT was born one culture: Science, particularly astronomy. This knowledge was kept in the “temples” at GT, and closely related to agricultural calendar purpose, to know when to plant the seeds. So, GT was the site of astronomy teaching, knowledge preservation, and sky observation. gobekli Tepe was not a temple, in fact, but an academy of science. It was the first academy, the birthplace of science itself.
The pillars represent exactly that: a high pillar. It is the pillar, or pillars, that sustain the sky vault. In later representations, the pillar, the taula, represents additionally the cosmic order itself, with the phi ratio (initially called tau “T”, and alpha “a”), a “divine” proportion that links the order of the skies with the order of the earth, as it is the order found both in the pentagram (five point star) and in the branches of plants.
Yet another observation is that the burial caves of Menorca consist of a large caity carved from stone, with one central pillar with the exact same shape a sa taula, with its “T” form.
The development of well planified agriculture needed and permitted the rise of a particular type of people: The astronomers, the first scientists. Their knowledge radiated to acadians, babylonians, indians, ancient greeks, etc., until our day.
The three bags represented in the pillar at BT symbolize the three travellers: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which defy the movement of the other asterisms. The animals represent the constellations, obviously.
In Trepucó, the same central pillar vs. enclosure plillars exists, and moreover, additional drawings engraved in the enclosure pillars are there too. The shadow of the rising Sun at the solstices hits those particular pillars, marking the reference to depict the seasons. This permitted to adopt a 365 day calendar, and to abandon the 29 days lunar calendar, previously used. The 29 lines drawn at Trepucó are the evidence for the representation of the concept of month.
Note also that the datation of the taula sites of Menorca is not clear (circa 1500 BC, but probably older), and that much older dolmens exist in the islands.
Salutations!

This comment will be blunt, direct and academically unpleasant. There is NO way Göbekli Tepe was buried by humans. Compare a cross section a of mound built by the Southeastern Indians and the fill deposited around Göbekli Tepe. Every basket of soil dumped by the Indians is distinguishable from those around it. This is not the case with the fill at GT. A quick review of the cross section of Mound A at Poverty Point, Louisiana shows the stark contrast with GT. The fill around GT is what geologist call colluvium, a random mixture of course and fine material. Until the deposition of the colluvium is understood GT can never be understood.

Then let me be blunt too: you obviously don’t have a very good idea about archaeological site formation processes. Such processes are different for every site, and humans are able to move baskets of rubble.


An Odd Trail of Connections Ending with the Denisovans

Having painstakingly tracked their line of enquiry over Masonic history through a series of historical connections based on ancient Masonic rituals inherited from the Templar Knights, researchers Knight and Lomas kept coming back to the Grooved Ware People of Europe and, moreover, how they may have seeded their information into an unidentified proto-Norse culture.

I find it fascinating that Andrew Collins in his most recent article discusses the genetic link between ancient Icelandic cultures and the Denisovans:

“… the engineering, sophistication and innovation that went into the construction of Göbekli Tepe… might well have originated not just from the direction of the Ural Mountains, but also with Finno-Ugric language speaking peoples.”

Could this be the same lineage that was found in the enquiry about Masonic tradition also? Knight and Lomas both believed that this “Norse religion was an entirely complementary component” (Knight & Lomas, p. 111) to the concepts they found within the Masonic/Templar rituals. But could it have actually been a much deeper clue about the originators of Gobekli Tepe?

There are certainly similarities between the achievements of this Stone Age Grooved Ware Culture and Gobekli Tepe:

1. Knowledge capable of creating precise astronomical alignments.

2. Ability to move, place, shape and carve megalithic structures.

3. Speculation about these sites being centers where information was disseminated – specifically information relating to astronomy and megalithic masonry.

4. The identity of the architects of these sites is still being debated or unknown.

There’s a fifth point also. First discovered by Alexander Thom, a professor of engineering at Oxford University and the founder of what we now call “archaeoastronomy”, the measurement of approximately 0.83 modern meters (2.7 feet) is the “megalithic yard”. The megalithic yard measurement is present at countless megalithic sites across the world, including Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, and at numerous sites around the Mediterranean region (Heath, 1998).

This unit is derived from three factors (Knight & Lomas, 2004, p. 49):

1. The spin of the Earth on its axis.

2. The orbit of the Earth around the sun.

Thus, to arrive at this unit of measurement, you have to be extremely adept at astronomy. Without going into too much detail here, an engineering professor named Alan Butler from the University of Bradford found that the incorporation of 366 megalithic yards in ancient megalithic sites was used to, among other things, track the moon over long periods of time. This was presumably done to predict high and low tide for oceanic travel .

Oftentimes this measurement is expressed through the circumference of the ancient henges that surround a site (a “megalithic circle” contained 366 degrees). With this in mind, I turned my attention east. I learned through a UNESCO World Heritage Nomination Document that the artificial mound on which Gobekli Tepe is situated has a diameter of 300 meters (UNESCO, 2017). I thought that it would be interesting to see how many megalithic yards this was. The answer was 362, a difference of less than 4 megalithic yards to the commonly used 366. Certainly it’s speculative, but the difference of four megalithic yards (around 3.32 modern meters or 10.9 feet) could simply be accounted for by an inaccuracy in the original measurement of Gobekli Tepe’s tell diameter.

The 300 meter diameter given by the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination Document superimposed onto the Gobekli Tepe site diameter (d) = 300 meters or 362 megalithic yards. (Diagram courtesy of the author).

While I understand this is most likely arbitrary (the creators of Gobekli Tepe may not have even planned out the site using this diameter) if Gobekli Tepe was constructed using the 366 megalithic yard parameter, this would suggest this unit of measurement was in existence at the end of the last ice age. This certainly supports the new-found Denisovan genetic link because this measurement is most highly used in and around the British Isles. “The Denisovan DNA recorded today among both Finns and Icelanders, but also the lost technology of the Denisovans” may be found, especially regarding monuments “where the former Doggerland landmass once stood, and those to be seen to this day on the Orkney Mainland” (Collins, 2019).

Like the next person, I would like to find the truth.


Who built Göbekli Tepe?

Well, the short answer would be: Stone Age people with Stone Age tools. Nothing more needed, no aliens, no giants, as you can read here. For an answer to the question, who these Stone Age people were, where they came from and lived (Göbekli Tepe is not a settlement), we will have to make the finds speak.

A point to start is the distribution of sites with similar architecture. Göbekli Tepe is not the only site with T-shaped pillars. Similar sites concentrate roughly between the Upper Balikh and the Upper Chabur rivers [read more here]. They clearly mark a region with similar cultural traits. However, the area the builders of Göbekli Tepe came from exceeds this region by far.

Gusir Höyük (Karul 2011, 2013) in the Turkish Tigris region has considerably widened the distribution area of circular enclosures. However, the pillars discovered there are slightly different, they miss the T-bar. Similar stelae have been discovered in Çayönu (Özdoğan 2011) and in Qermez Dere (Watkins et al. 1995). In addition to these two different architectonic regions, to the west, in northern Syria, a third distinct building style can be pointed out. Domestic sites like like Jerf el Ahmar, Mureybet or Tell ´Abr 3 (Stordeur et al. 2000 Yartah 2013) also have circular communal buildings. These are constructions with pisé walls and wooden supports however. Upper Mesopotamia can thus be differentiated by building traditions. But the common element is the existence of similarly arranged communal buildings, and, more important, of a range of common symbols.

Distribution of Göbekli Tepe´s iconography and of wild wheats (Map: T. Götzelt, Copyright DAI).

For example, shaft straighteners and plaquettes from Jerf el Ahmar (Stordeur & Abbès 2002) and Tell Qaramel (Mazurowski & Kanjou 2012), as well as Tell ´Abr 3 (Yartah 2013), and Körtik Tepe (Özkaya & Coşkun 2011) feature decorations in the form of snakes and scorpions, quadruped animals, insects, and birds strongly reminiscent of the iconography of Göbekli Tepe, where they appear not only on the pillars, but also on similar items.

Plaquette with depiction of a snake, a human (?) and a bird (Photo Irmgard Wagner, Copyright DAI).

Most striking in this regard is a small plaquette from Göbekli Tepe. From the left to the right, it shows a snake moving upwards, a stylized human figure (?) with raised arms, and a bird. What makes this small find so interesting, is that the combination of depictions reappears not only in similar (e.g. in Jerf el Ahmar with a fox in place of the human-shape?), but also in completely and nearly identical form twice on another site, Tell Abr´3 in northern Syria (Köksal-Schmidt & Schmidt 2007 Yartah 2013, with images [external link]).

Fragment of a decorated stone bowl from Göbekli Tepe (Photo N. Becker, Copyright DAI). “Sceptre”, type Nemrik, from Göbekli Tepe (Photo Nico Becker, Copyright DAI). Fragment of a decorated stone bowl from Göbekli Tepe (Photo. Schmidt, Copyright DAI).
Decorated shaft straigthener from Göbekli Tepe (Photo N. Becker, Copyright DAI).

The same range of depictions of snakes, scorpions, quadrupeds, insects, and birds occurs on thin walled stone cups and bowls of the Hallan Çemi type (Rosenberg & Redding 2000). Fragments of this vessel type are known from Göbekli Tepe, Çayönü (Özdoğan 2011), Nevalı Çori, Jerf el Ahmar (Stordeur & Abbès 2002), Tell ´Abr 3 (Yartah 2013), and Tell Qaramel (Mazurowski & Kanjou 2012), while complete vessels have been discovered at Körtik Tepe in large numbers (Özkaya & Coşkun 2011) as part of rich grave inventories. Another connection is suggested by the zoomorphic scepters of the Nemrik type, which are present at Hallan Çemi, Nevalı Çori, Çayönü, Göbekli Tepe, Abu Hureyra, Mureybet, Jerf el Ahmar, and Dja´de (Kozłowski 2002).

We thus see a large area in Upper Mesopotamia connected by a similar iconography. While, as detailed above, several domestic sites show some aspects of this world, it concentrates at non-domestic Göbekli Tepe.

El-Khiam-, Helwan-, Nemrik- and Byblos-Points from Göbekli Tepe (Photo Irmgard Wagner, Copyright DAI).

The range of flint projectile points made on-site may further strengthen the impression of people from different areas gathering here (Schmidt 2001). PPN A types present at Göbekli Tepe include el-Khiam, Helwan and Aswad points regarding the PPNB, Byblos and Nemrik points are very frequent, Nevalı Çori points are rare. Nemrik points have an eastern distribution pattern within the fertile crescent, el-Khiam and Byblos points are distributed to the west, within the Levant, Nevalı Çori points more to the north and the middle Euphrates area (Kozłowski 1999). It has to be stressed here that those points were not imported-the flint used is clearly local. At Göbekli Tepe, the whole reduction sequence is attested, although flint is not present at the limestone plateau, but had to be brought to the site from the surrounding valleys. Most of the primary production is based on naviform cores. Flint knapping took place in an abundance not known from contemporaneous sites. Maybe some characteristic of the place made it especially desirable to use points made there. Another possible point in favor of people from a larger area congregating at Göbekli Tepe is presented by raw material sourcing of the obsidian found onsite [read more here – external link].

So, to finally answer the question of who built Göbekli Tepe: Stone Age people coming from a radius of roughly 200km around the site. With Stone Age tools.


43 Comments

Like you, Oliver, but in the late 1950s, when Gordon Childe’s account of the European Neolithic was the uncontested key text, and before there was any radio-carbon based chronology, I learned about the megaliths of the Atlantic and North Sea coastlands, and their possible links from southern Spain back through Malta to Cretan “tholoi”. We have much more information, and we have calibrated radiocarbon dating to help establish some, but it is still very difficult to think how these various kinds of more or less contemporary, Neolithic,megalithic monuments around the edge of Atlantic and North Sea relate to one another. You chose the iconic Stonehenge to stand for them all, but of course, henge monuments and stone circles are particular to Britain, and Stonehenge in particular is quite unique. I believe that two things about Stonehenge are helpful in prompting our thinking about Göbekli Tepe, however. First, as you say, the Stonehenge that we see as visitors today represents the final stage in a long, long history of construction, reconstruction, re-modelling. I know that detailed study at Göbekli Tepe shows that the major circular enclosures and the T-monolihts within them are the end-product of a complex history of construction, reconstruction, and re-modelling. But we don’t yet have the kind of long-term evolutionary history that we have for Stonehenge that describes how a relatively simple circular bank and ditch around a circle of pits that contained cremated human remains grew in ambition and complexity over the long term. The second point of relationship between Neolithic Stonehenge and Neolithic Göbekli Tepe concerns the scale of the “community” that came together to create these monuments. You speak of the extensive area of around 200 km from which communities came together to join in working and feasting at Göbekli Tepe – was it an early Neolithic “aggregation site”, an evolved descendent of the kind of aggregation sites (e.g.. Kharaneh IV) that are beginning to be known from the Epipalaeolithic of the Levant? Concerning Stonehenge, we have known of the geological origin in southwest Wales of the bluestones, but recent work by Mike Parker Pearson and others is showing that large numbers of people came together periodically in the area around Stonehenge, accompanied by much feasting (as at Göbekli Tepe). So I don’t think that it is correct to think that Stonehenge and the other monuments in the area around it were the work of the local community. I am pretty sure that that isotopic analysis of the bones in the feasting remains indicates that the animals that provided the meat had been driven to the area from all over Britain. So perhaps Stonehenge and Göbekli Tepe both represent central places where many related communities came together to memorialise and make a reality of their strength as “super-communities”.

You are absolutely right about the catchment area of Stonehenge, ‘local’ was meant to emphasize that there is most likely no direct connection between Stonehenge and GT. Corrected that in the text.

Perhaps you should include in this list the pyramids in Bosnia because of the proximity of the location to GT, and because of the probably contemporaneity. For a brief summary, although almost a decade old, please check
http://www.gizaforhumanity.org/scientific-analysis-of-the-bosnian-valley-of-the-pyramids/

One can find at the end of the linked text that the organic material remains found embedded in the walls of those pyramids were C-14 dated to be 29-34 ka old, which if true would put them in the time while Neanderthals still lived in the area. But, one should take into account that properly built pyramids (including these) are somehow able to permanently diminish the natural level of radioactivity by up to 2/3 (if I recall the value correctly, this is still research in progress). In that case, such reduction makes them contemporaneous with GT.

What is your opinion on that ?

Judging from the evidence I have seen, my personal opinion is that there are no man-made pyramids in Bosnia. Of course, everybody is entitled to an own opinion here.

I too have looked into the Bosnian pyramids and found insufficient evidence that they are anything but natural. I will keep following the archaeologists’ reports in case new evidence comes up.

Interesting article, Oliver. Thank you. I agree that there is no realistic chance of direct contact between these sites nor even of influence, given the distances in time and space.

I do believe there is a common factor, though, and that is that these were all gathering sites by people with the same basic needs and same basic brain structure – all made significantly different by culture and environment. My research shows common factors in the mnemonic practices of oral cultures all over the world to do with the way they encode vast amounts of information without writing. The commonalities occur because of the most effective ways to memorise information using human brains which include song, dance, mythology, memory palaces, decorated posts, formalised art works and a vast array of decorated objects. Without writing, oral cultures had a need to memorise because of their dependence on huge data banks on pragmatic knowledge (animals including invertebrates, plants, navigation, astronomy, timekeeping, geology, genealogies, laws, land management, inter-tribal agreements, ethics … Ceremonies along with an array or oral and physical mnemonic technologies enabled this capacity. Non-domestic gathering places structured according to the optimisation of memory palaces, along with enigmatic decorated objects are two of the signs of these mnemonic requirements.

From my reading of the archaeology of Göbekli Tepe and the other sites you mention, I am convinced that a primary (though not only) purpose was to enhance the memory systems of the elders gathering, learning and teaching there.

I adore this site because of the practicalities of the discussions by the archaeologists involved. Thank you.

I absolutely agree with you and Trevor – the sites mentioned certainly served very similar social functions for the societies that built them. Maybe I should add a few sentences on that topic. What I wanted to do within these few lines is to show that there is no evidence for direct genetic/evolutionary connections between these sites – because we get a lot of questions regarding this aspect.

“there is no evidence for direct genetic/evolutionary connections between these sites”

I don’t think that you can emphasise that enough. Do you get questions about global consciousness and similar concepts linking the different sites? I do. I would appreciate knowing how you reply. As a science writer, I’d need more evidence than the anecdotes and beliefs that I hear so often to believe such consciousness exists. That is another reason that I think that the “no connection” message is really really important.

Oh, that´s interesting. We haven´t had any questions regarding global consciousness yet. I was aware of the Global Consciousness Project in Princeton, but so far have not seen any possible connection to our work. Thanks for pointing this out, we definitely should prepare some answers here. The questions we are getting are more ‘old school’ so far, mainly related to the spread of the ‘megalithic phenomenon’ through migration.

In the link that I supplied above, which you apparently never visited, one can find that those pyramids are arranged in a perfect equilateral triangle, a side of which measuring 2170 metres. This is almost the number of years in one month of precession, signifying that the builders knew about the precession, and about the size and shape of Earth (2160 is value used by Egyptians). Coincidence ? What is the chance for such a coincidence ? What are the chance that those 5 pyramidal hills’ are all aligned to north with laser precision, better than the man-made Giza pyramids ? Or that they are made of concrete, as they apparently are ?

From that text:
�: …Egyptian geologist Dr. Aly Barakat, who came through the Egyptian Government to give his opinion about the site, after 42 days he spent in Bosnia, announced at the press conference in June that Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is the combination of natural and anthropogenic forces – man has shaped existing hill to the geometry of pyramid, with four triangular sides and later coated with stone blocks. He called it first “primitive pyramid”.

– Two weeks after Dr. Barakat’s announcement the meeting was held in Cairo between Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Supreme Council for Antiquities. On Agenda was “***effects of discovery of Bosnian pyramids to Egyptian tourism***”. After the meeting Dr. Zahi Hawass (***politically***) proclaimed that “Bosnian pyramids are just the pile of rocks”

2007: …Team of four Egyptian experts officially (thru Egyptian Government) came to investigate project: Dr. Nabil Swelim (archaeologist and Egyptologist, ***discoverer of four pyramids in Egypt***), Dr. Aly Barakat (geologist), Dr. Mona Fouad Ali (archaeologist from Cairo University) and Dr. Soliman Hamid (archaeologist from Cairo University).
Conclusion after 15-day visit, which was announced publicly, was that the “Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is the biggest pyramid in the world.”…”

While I can agree that there are no connection between GT and those far away monuments from much later times, there are a few peculiar details that indicate a possible connection between GT and Bosian pyramids:

1. The internal corridors of Bosnian pyramids were deliberately buried, and are now being laboriously excavated, just as was and is the case with GT, indicating the same style of decommissioning, not otherwise present elsewhere.
2. Both sites are approximately contemporaneous and in relative proximity one to another, making cultural links quite possible.
3. Another Younger Dryas Boundary event monument ? If so, then their beliefs were the same, although the ways of expressing them differed by many orders of magnitude in size.

That said, you might continue to defend the Egyptian tourism by ignoring the supplied evidence, or you might consider what that evidence means to GT (no, it does not make it tiny in comparison, but a part of the bigger whole), and then make your judgment.

There´s nothing to add to my earlier comment.

It is agreed that these cultures, under discussion, had no direct connections with each other. It is also agreed that the sites served similar social, and cosmological systems. But the comparing of architectures can be misleading as this perspective is biased by how we, today, define architecture. Ancient societies were much more “holistic” than today. They wove, science, politics, and cosmology into one fabric. They were also in possession of a system of communication that is nearly subliminal to present day researchers. Because this system had its pictorial aspects that is what attracts the eye and the system itself goes, pretty much, unnoticed.

The structures of Gobekli Tepe, the Maltese, Stonehenge, Menorca, and Easter Island all used the ancient system of depicted sign language to organize their structures. Some people recognize bits and pieces of the underlying system in the different cultures and this gives rise to conjectures (sometimes wildly so) that all these ancient cultures were, somehow, in direct contact with each other.

Depicted sign language was highly positional as it was based on a transposition of gesture signs. Thus we see that both at Gobekli Tepe there are depictions of Arm and Hands that are positioned, “on the sides.” Also we see the “T” shaped gesture sign employed in as the Nose and Brow on the Face of the Moai that indicates, “below.” The Maltese “temple” is completely composed of signs that indicated that its function as an Oval “turning-place” of the spirit. The signs indicate that it was considered “a center-portal” located between the east and the west. Stonehenge used the gesture sign for a Circle to indicate, “the great one, on the hillside or mountainside.” This was a common phrase among a great many ancient cultures meaning “a great leader” and his relationship to a place higher than the common man. The Menorca structure is a combination of the “T” shape for “below” and the Pi shaped sign for, “a portal” from the underworld to “the surface-place” or “upper-world.” All of the above used depicted signing to illustrate aspects of a cosmology that was kept quite uniform over time and space due to the use of the language itself.

“No man-made pyramids” could mean that they were built by Neanderthals, or some other species of homo, or even aliens.

Perhaps you should just clarify whether you think that there were no artificial pyramids in Bosnia ?

Yes, no artificial pyramids in my opinion. And, as I said, everybody is entitled to forming his own.

Yes, of course, everyone is entitled to have a personal opinion.

However, considering that you are a professional archaeologist, I am just curious on what kind of evidence should be supplied for you to change your opinion in this particular case ?

Artefakts and a cultural layer clearly associated with the site, tool marks on the stones, plausible scientific age determinations, for example.

The stones were made of concrete, not carved, so no tool marks. The same type of concrete that the Romans used.

The soil sediments on top of the pyramids were dated to 12 ka. This is how old (young) they are.

Organic material found inside the walls of the pyramid (between the bricks, in the mortar) was C-14 dated to 29-34 ka. But, the pyramids were also found to have unusual electric properties, not presented on ordinary natural hills. One peculiarity is substantial reduction of natural radioactivity levels inside the pyramid, even though one can expect the opposite in caves due to radon buildup. This makes the age assessments based on C-14 samples taken from within the pyramid unreliable.

Few artifacts were reported, some of them shown at 1.12 point on the supplied link. Stone amulet is quite peculiar in my opinion. One can only build such a thing by casting (of concrete). The presence of concrete, in my opinion, is a sufficient proof of artificiality.

Cultural layer is still lacking. I think that they are primarily focused on excavating the pyramids themselves, not looking for those who built them. They are focusing on proving the artificiality, but not really expecting the man-made possibility, nor speculating on who built them or why.

I’ve read these things before. That’s exactly why I don’t believe in these pyramids. With a building project that big, there’s just no chance to not discover massive traces of human activity. And there is far too much speculation and odd-looking reasoning involved in the scientific dating attempts.

You are correct, for man-made pyramids of this size there must be massive traces left of human activity.

Yet, how come that the very presence of concrete is not enough as a proof of artificiality ?

I have seen no evidence for concrete. But if so, as you said, (real) concrete is a Roman innovation. How does that fit with the presumed early date?

First 6 steps of the Khafre pyramid are of solid concrete, so it is not the Romans who invented it.

This is highly disputed. And there is no evidence for a pre-Younger Dryas civilization. At the end of arguments speculation begins.

Suppose that long time ago somebody invented concrete, and built these pyramids. Then came the Younger Dryas event and destroyed that civilization, back to stone age.

Or, which is also possible, barbarians invaded.

One myth:
In ancient, Zep Tepi times, Osiris went to teach wisdom to Earthlings. He went all the way to India and back. Then he went to Thrace (Balkans) and for the first time he found an equal match in wisdom. He had to fight and kill a barbarian king there, after which he returned to Egypt.

That is only a myth, but it refers to Thrace as being a civilized place, before there was a civilization in Egypt itself.

All arguments are exchanged and everything remains as it was before. You want to believe, I don’t.

Thank you for another enlightening piece Oliver, I always enjoy reading the various contributions to this blog by the different members of the team (i.e. yourself, Jens and Lee).

You’ve raised an important point here. I think its a strange feature of human psychology, likely rooted in some kind of primeval instinct, that makes us look for patterns and shared meanings where, in fact, their are none. The task of science is to deal with evidence-based data and hypotheses, not metaphysical speculations. As you note, these are all megaliths separated by geography, time and other factors.

That said, I noted an interesting discussion earlier in the thread between yourself and Lynne regarding “the similar social functions for the societies that built them”. In this respect I cannot help but think of the Maya civilization and the ancient settlement of Ceibal in Guatemala (circa. 950 B.C.), their oldest settlement, which seems to have begun life as a place where a diverse collection of hunter-gatherer groups assembled to build religious festival sites that were the origin of their later cities. The Maya developed in complete geographical isolation from the Old World, and many thousands of years after Gobekli Tepe (making contact, obviously, impossible) but I can’t help but be gripped by the impressive similarities from a sociological perspective.

As Inomata, one of the archaeologists working on this site has noted:

“The ceremonial complex was the first architecture built at Ceibal. Durable residences were not built until two to six centuries later. The collective activity of building temples and worshipping eventually encouraged integration of the diverse traveller groups and the growth of an urban centre, rather than the other way round.”

My understanding (please correct me if wrong) is that a similar sequential progression occurred with Gobekli Tepe in terms of social function, with its social use being as a ceremonial complex for hunter-gatherers prior to the emergence of sedentary living/agriculture and indeed probably helping to ultimately facilitate the latter, in the sense that religion spurred the need for building activity which in turn led to cooperation.

By the way, if I may ask: has Lee Clare made any further progress with that paper on Rene Girard? I’m very eager to read something on it!

The Maya example is really interesting and certainly would be a great topic for a sociological comparison with GT. There are some gradual differences though, I think.
In the Near East, an semi-sendetary lifestile (sedentism during times when abundant plant ressources were availble for example) is attested from the Epipalaeolithic onwards (Ohalo, Abu Hureyra). GT and similar sites may have accelerated the process towards domestication/full sedentarism by generating a need for surplus. GT´s layer II is very different from the earlier layer III, whether we have constant domestic activities there remains to be seen.
In any case, GT ends at the moment when full domestication becomes visible in plant and animal remains, it seems to have been entangled too much with hunter-gatherer ideology to be useful beyond that point.

The article is still in press, we will definitely post something here when it´s out.

Many thanks Oliver, I understand the difference you have noted between the Maya continuing to use Ceibal as a ceremonial complex after full domestication/sedentarism (indeed ultimately constructing their first city around the site, after centuries of hunter-gather usage) and GT being abandoned at this “sedentarism/domestication” phase given its presumed entanglement with hunter-gatherer belief, such that GT had now outlived its original purpose/function.

Still it intrigues me that both sites appear to testify to the fact that megalithic construction, motivated by (in all likelihood) religious beliefs, preceded agriculture/full sedentarism in two completely unconnected (both in terms of distance and time) parts of the globe, the differences you’ve noted notwithstanding. If they both followed the same path in being built by nomads rather than farmers (as used to be thought), perhaps that tells us something profound about human cultural evolution.

I am really enjoying your discussion with Oliver on this fascinating blog post, Sean. Apologies for the length of this reply, but your comment strikes right into the heart of my research.

I would just like to question the phrase: “megalithic construction, motivated by (in all likelihood) religious beliefs”. I would argue that megalithic construction is motivated by the need to maintain the knowledge system on which their physical and cultural survival depends. My academic field is primary orality – the communication and knowledge systems used by cultures with no contact with writing. Without literacy, they have an alternative – orality.

My PhD and subsequent research and books are about the way non-literate cultures record vast amounts of pragmatic information without writing. Some studies here in Australia show that 70% of the songs performed at the large gatherings – corroborees – are about animal behaviour, plant properties, laws, tides, timekeeping and so on. The knowledge system is integrated – that is ‘religion’ is enmeshed with the mundane and pragmatic. There are no gods as such, but mythological characters whose stories ensure the information is accurately retained.

Cultures which are no longer nomadic, but still mostly hunter-gatherer, such as most Australian Aboriginal tribes, moved between a number of sites during the year or sometimes a longer cycle. They were (some still are) mobile cultures, but not wandering nomads. Among a whole swag of memory methods, they use the landscape features not only for navigation but as memory guides to perform rituals (by definition, repeated events – nothing more can be assumed) which repeat the songs, stories and dances which encode the entire knowledge system. Much of this encoding is done through the use of mythology because vivid stories which assign character to plants, animals and abstract concepts, are far more memorable than a list of facts.

In order to settle, they must localise these landscape memory trails (in Australian terms, they are songlines, for Native Americans they are pilgrimage trails, for the Inca they are ceques, in the Pacific they are ceremonial roads …). There are songlines recorded for the Yanyuwa people of northern Australia which cover over 800 km – all retained in memory! I am constantly amazed by this stuff the more I research into it.

On settling, my thesis and books argue, it is essential to retain the mnemonic indicators by localising them. Monuments structured to act as memory palaces are essential to retain these memory locations through transition to large scale sedentary societies. There are a lot of indicators which need to be present before you can assume a site was primarily, but not exclusively, a memory palace. Once a culture gets large enough to have specialists, then the elders who retained power through control of knowledge (as it is with Australian cultures, Native American and so on) give way to power based on individual wealth and coercion, if they stay put and grow as a society. That is a massive generalisation and each site is distinct and needs to be analysed as such. It depends on the culture, the environment and the materials available among many other things. But there are neuroscience studies about the way the human brain functions best to memorise information: memory palaces (associating information with place), music and narrative being key. For small-scale non-literate cultures, large gatherings at ceremonial centres are essential for the transmission and repetition of knowledge, much of it pragmatic. The gatherings served a multiplicity of purposes, though, including trade, finding marriage partners and just having fun. Trade included the trade of knowledge. There are a lot of material indicators of a site being used this way – too much for a blog comment.

So I look at the archaeological reports of the sites Oliver refers to in terms of the way the design and function would serve the memory systems. It will only be one of a complex of functions, but I think that it is a pretty important one. But only time will tell how the archaeological world responds to my ideas.

” megalithic construction is motivated by the need to maintain the knowledge system…” I fully agree with you on this. The images on GT, Enclosure D tell a coherent narrative. Yet, these people were not entirely illiterate, but proto-literate. There are several letters used on the pillars as pictographs (‘H’, ‘I’, ‘V’, reversed ‘V’, ‘-‘, arc, handbag, triangle, even the animals themselves). All together, they give a message about… Younger Dryas Boundary impact event.

The important difference in tradition between Australia and northen hemisphere is the trauma of the YDB event. It knocked out the mammoths et al. After that, the surviving people of the northern hemisphere all developed a profound interest in celestial ‘affairs’. I argue that almost all of the northern constellations were named (or renamed) back then to commemorate that event.

The previously debated fox paper presumes that the constellation names existed before. I argue that the names to constellations were given to describe the YDB event, which is why the authors of the fox paper found them on pillars. What is your opinion on that claim ? How would a traumatized society of hunter-gatherers react on such an event ? Would it be logical for them to name stars and constellations to integrate such unique event’s experience into their system of oral tradition ?

Lynn and Sean have a major point to make. The simllarities can never be explained away via mathematical probability. Oliver is trained to look into the subtlest of differences and makes important remarks. Yet, there are some huge similarities between these structures in addition to their differences which can/will be/are explained just like their simliarities. Sumerian civilization tells a lot about these societies. Compare them to animal life human progress in other parts and the similarties will appear very sgnificant in terms of beliefs and social context/progress. And also the emergence of class society!

As you can see from the comments, everybody agrees here that these sites may have served similar social purposes for their builders, e.g. For gatherings. Thus they share some characteristics, like prominent placement in the landscape, monumentality etc. They are however not directly interrelated, and none of the sites mentioned is Sumerian.

Interrelatedness is a result of migrations!

There is no way people have come up with such unlikely and unnatural themes/events each on their own. Mathematically speaking, all you will need to do is to write down each similar component of these monuments, riturals, social structore, cohesion, gatherings and check the likelihood of a natural evolution happening each on its own.. these are extremely specific human behaviours.that require complex tasks.

Unfortunately people do not talk about the migrations of the last 25000 years yet geneticists keep coming up with facts and proofs of these migrations out of Siberia/Central Asia. Otherwise impossible to explain similarities of totem poles in Northwest America and Gobekltepe, Shigir Idol Russia. Even a concept of totem pole is a very very unnatural thing that would require a set of thoughts and beliefs as well as social organization that cannot happen independant of each other. The last 50000 years is what made all major human changes possible and many migrations can be mapped since.

As for the Sumerians, a look into their mythology reveals all the Siberian/Cetral Asian hunter gatherer rituals and some of them can be seen in Gobeklitepe, and maybe of help in Gobeklitepe research since they are the earliest written records of humanity.

As for the differences: Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish people cannot reasonably communicate with each other in their own language even though their vocabularies are 70% similar and these languages stem from the same vulgar Latin of 1000 years ago. Divergences and common roots for major civiliziatons is a fact of life and the idea is to check for both and why

Also proof of the fact that Sumerian are Turks.can be seen at sumerianturks.org and anyone can fact check any of these resources on their own.

Thank you for your interesting comments, Mehmet. I would appreciate expansion on why you say this: “Even a concept of totem pole is a very very unnatural thing that would require a set of thoughts and beliefs as well as social organization that cannot happen independant of each other.”

I have argued that the concept of totem poles is a very natural thing for the human brain. I have many examples of similar topologies from Australia and New Guinea as well as the better known ones you quote. One of my mnemonic experiments based on technologies from oral cultures is encoding information to a post with abstract symbols – in fact so abstract that it is merely the rings in the verandah post design – and it still works well as a memory device for a sequenced set of narratives.

I am convinced that the similarities seen across these sites relates to the way the human brain memorises using a swag of technologies as mentioned in my comments above. Totem poles – or other forms of decorated posts and stones – are common precisely because to the way they relate to human brain structures and natural memory systems. I have no doubt that these similar technologies happened independently of each other, but happy to be proved wrong.

I am very interested to know why you think that the concept of a totem pole is unnatural from the neuroscience or any other approach. I am only just starting to delve into the neuroscience of memory with some very helpful scientists, but what little I have read indicates that any objects which use place from the landscape and skycape to smaller versions such as totem poles, are highly memorable and consistent with the findings in research into the cerebellum grid cells and the way they encode spatial information. But I am very far from knowing what I am talking about yet!

It strikes me that that the references to particular ways in which humans produce very similar structures, be they of wood, stone or earth have far more to do with the ways they react to concepts that are common to all societies than they have to the similarities in those structures.
There are a number of ways in which communal attempts to project or embody the supernatural may produce physical structures and more often than not there will be a superficial resemblance, as in the case of ‘totems’, whether of wood or stone: they are relatively easy to produce and erect and lend themselves to carving. Collections of such enhance the effect and offer an increasingly potent centre for communal gatherings. A collection of pillars may lead to a working structure, and so on..Their function as ‘memory palaces’ need not be primary though, even if that role is coincidentally very significant. I would have thought the immense work involved in constructing a Stonehenge or a GT for a far-flung hunter-gatherer population suggests a motivating power in the realms of belief in a supernatural power rather than one at the more mundane level of tribal/social affiliations.
In short, it is the way all societies have reacted to the unknown and uncontrollable that is the common ground, not the shape of the structure, particularly since the significance of particular structures fades over centuries, never mind millenia: we struggle to comprehend the significance of features built in the Iron Age, like hill ‘forts’, so what price Someone involved in the construction of Stonehenge, cerca 3000BC, knowing the mind of a builder of GT?

Of course, the promise of big eats and a giant party would be an added extra!

One should have in mind that the hunter-gatherer cultures were substantially more mobile than the later sedentary farmers. People roamed the wilderness, encountered each other on occasional festivities-gatherings and exchanged their tales and stories. Some of these were legendary and of global importance, so they survived, written on monuments.

It is my impression that people grossly underestimate the ability of ideas, carried by individual people, to travel.

As I reported on the 2nd fox page a week ago, to which nobody commented more, images on GT pillars represents groups of stars, as viewed from various places on the Earth, describing as mnemonics events that took place there. this type of writing is exceptionally clever for recording locations and times, aside from stories. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody cares about it.

Since this page is about other monuments, separated wildly in time and space, I should add that the story depicted on the Vulture Stone establishes a direct (cultural) link between the *7-stone-antas people* (3-4 ka BC, Iberian peninsula) with the GT people.

14. September 2017 at 10:55

I have added a very brief paper on the Maltese Temple. It demonstrates how the depicted signs were organized to create the model building. it also tells us what the building represented. It is easier to show how the signs were used pictorially than to describe them in writing.

Klaus Schmidt noted a similarity between the taulas and GT, but was completely wrong when dismissing this comparisson by assuming that there were no drawings at all in the taulas. Recently, I have discovered something that shocckingly passed unnoticed/uniterpreted by the archaeologists until this time. The biggest taula of Menorca, at Trepucó, exhibits 29 parallel engraved lines on its southwards surface. These carefully drawn lines are at 50º from the horizontal. The taula is riented towards the sunset/sunrise at the solstices. The taula is North-South aligned with the talayot (tower-like building) behind it. But what is in my opinion the most exciting evidence, is that one of the lines is not rectilinear, but shows, near the center of the taula surface, a very clear breakup, a sort of “S” shape, or “Z” shape, that very closely ressembles the well known planetary figure of apparent retrograde movement which is visible when observing Mars, or even Jupiter or Saturn. All these evidences point towards one only possible hypothesis: The taulas were built with astronomical purposes.
Moreover, these pillars that are called taulas are carefully designed, so they exhibit precise gemetrical realtions beteween its dimensions (height, width, thickness). The work of Ibáñez Orts proves that these relations are evidence of advanced mathematics, and when put into perspective with the geometrical signs, including five point stars found in cave burials of the culture in Menorca, indicate the probable presence of the mathematical-astronomers-musicians pythagoreans there.
Regarding GT, the excellent work of Sidharth proves that also the pillars there show representation of astronomical figures, avidence that, together with the Rig Veda key, talk about “hymns in the sky”, which again points towards the pythagorean central idea, that is that the Cosmos had an order, and that it was mathematical, and more particularly, musical, but only understandable for the initiates, just like the Rig Veda says: “These hymns (Rks) are writ on the highest heavens, wherein are situated the shining ones what can he understand who knows not this but they who know it are here present.”.
So, it seems evident that in GT was born one culture: Science, particularly astronomy. This knowledge was kept in the “temples” at GT, and closely related to agricultural calendar purpose, to know when to plant the seeds. So, GT was the site of astronomy teaching, knowledge preservation, and sky observation. gobekli Tepe was not a temple, in fact, but an academy of science. It was the first academy, the birthplace of science itself.
The pillars represent exactly that: a high pillar. It is the pillar, or pillars, that sustain the sky vault. In later representations, the pillar, the taula, represents additionally the cosmic order itself, with the phi ratio (initially called tau “T”, and alpha “a”), a “divine” proportion that links the order of the skies with the order of the earth, as it is the order found both in the pentagram (five point star) and in the branches of plants.
Yet another observation is that the burial caves of Menorca consist of a large caity carved from stone, with one central pillar with the exact same shape a sa taula, with its “T” form.
The development of well planified agriculture needed and permitted the rise of a particular type of people: The astronomers, the first scientists. Their knowledge radiated to acadians, babylonians, indians, ancient greeks, etc., until our day.
The three bags represented in the pillar at BT symbolize the three travellers: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which defy the movement of the other asterisms. The animals represent the constellations, obviously.
In Trepucó, the same central pillar vs. enclosure plillars exists, and moreover, additional drawings engraved in the enclosure pillars are there too. The shadow of the rising Sun at the solstices hits those particular pillars, marking the reference to depict the seasons. This permitted to adopt a 365 day calendar, and to abandon the 29 days lunar calendar, previously used. The 29 lines drawn at Trepucó are the evidence for the representation of the concept of month.
Note also that the datation of the taula sites of Menorca is not clear (circa 1500 BC, but probably older), and that much older dolmens exist in the islands.
Salutations!

This comment will be blunt, direct and academically unpleasant. There is NO way Göbekli Tepe was buried by humans. Compare a cross section a of mound built by the Southeastern Indians and the fill deposited around Göbekli Tepe. Every basket of soil dumped by the Indians is distinguishable from those around it. This is not the case with the fill at GT. A quick review of the cross section of Mound A at Poverty Point, Louisiana shows the stark contrast with GT. The fill around GT is what geologist call colluvium, a random mixture of course and fine material. Until the deposition of the colluvium is understood GT can never be understood.

Then let me be blunt too: you obviously don’t have a very good idea about archaeological site formation processes. Such processes are different for every site, and humans are able to move baskets of rubble.


Datestamp: World’s oldest monument memorializes Younger Dryas comet impact

Ok, I’ve finally found a little time to provide some commentary after posting the Gobekli Tepe YD Comet paper last week. I have more substantive comments underway (believe it or not) but first I thought I would rail a bit about the press.

The treatment of this particular story by the American press, and its larger context, the Younger Dryas Boundary Impact Hypothesis, continues to be despicable. The Brits led the way again on this subject and carried most of the planet in their wake. This fascinating little paper is being picked up all over the globe with dozens of re-writes by hundreds of publications — but very nearly zero from the US.

It would seem the US science desks and editors could find some common interest in this subject with our closest intellectual cousin, global warming certainly dominates coverage in both countries. But no. Just like the Widespread Platinum paper in Nature Reports last month, crickets in the US and reported in the UK. It seems we have our own science news, and they have theirs. How’s that for legitimacy of science?

The always depressing fact is that the U.S. science press has become so overtly politicized that it has no ink for anything that does not extend the narrative. There is no room for a serious, mitigable and global “science” threat that does not involve polluters and conservatives as the bad guys. Space rocks are hard to blame – and distracting.

Imagine if a media kid dares take this seriously, and (gasp) does some ‘enterprise reporting’ on the magnitude and quality of the research? They may reveal to themselves a threat on a par with CO2. Who would embark on a writing project that might result in THAT? For the rest of their career they would be intellectually compelled to write the next global warming story with an acknowledgement that the subject is our #2 global problem. That makes it hard to get up in the morning to cover the March for Science.

So why the Brits? I think catastrophism, as a philosophy and a way to see world history, is still a faint cultural recollection for them. And therefore of more interest to their readers and their writers. Like so many non-US cultures, in the United Kingdom they are still surrounded by their dragons — and most have had to consider, at least once, whether their ancestors really saw flying fire lizards, were full of shit, or maybe, just maybe, they saw flaming bolides with snake-like smoke tails — just like they record today with their iPhones.

Moreover, a hardy band of UK researchers has been making precisely these same claims in peer-reviewed publications for decades — approximately 40 decades. From Newton and Whiston, to Clube and Napier, it is hard to put a Brit down who knows he has been right for millennia. There is clearly some thread of understanding in the UK Fourth Estate that this is an area of legitimate intellectual inquiry with a long and distinguished history. Our press, on the other hand, only honors fashions that were born after they were.

So that’s that on the press coverage. As I say, more is coming, on our newest British friend, Dr. Martin Sweatman, author of the paper that inspired this deviation.


Watch the video: Monolithe et message de Göbekli Tepe (January 2022).