Gobekli Tepe

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Rokcet Scientist

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Wed Apr 30, 2008 6:54 pm

What an amazing site! Imagine that: seven thousand years older than the pyramids! It takes my breath away!

As they say it is an on-going project. And it'll probably take another 15/20 years to fully excavate. So imagine all the fantastic finds we are yet to see.

What bothers me is the 'certainty' of the statement that is was a hunting people. Not an agricultural people. I'm not at all sure that is a foregone conclusion. There was a transitional period. Maybe it lasted millennia. So the people who built Göbekli Tepe could have been hunters and farmers, for all I know.

The German is no problem for me.
The most intrigueing thing the voice-over said, imo, is that the site appeared to have been covered on purpose! I wonder how they conclude that. Or when it supposedly happened. And, if so, of course why. Anybody know any other ancient building site that was later deliberately covered up?

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Post by Interested Onlooker » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:17 pm

R/S -
Diluvial sediment from the Black Sea? ;-)

Rokcet Scientist

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:36 pm

Interested Onlooker wrote:R/S -
Diluvial sediment from the Black Sea? ;-)
Have you looked at a map? It couldn't be more land locked. On a plateau, high above sea level.
Last edited by Rokcet Scientist on Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by AD » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:36 pm

Hi RS...
The most intrigueing thing the voice-over said, imo, is that the site appeared to have been covered on purpose! I wonder how they conclude that.
My understanding of the voice-over narrative is that the stratigraphy overlying the site "was not laid down by erosion or earthquake" ("haben sich nicht durch Erosion oder Erdbeben auf die alten Gemäuer gelegt"), so I guess intentional burial was deduced by process of elimination. Strange indeed...

AD

Rokcet Scientist

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Wed Apr 30, 2008 7:49 pm

...viel mehr wissen die Archäologen die Anlagen wurden vor Urzeiten gezielt zugeschüttet.
"...rather the archeologists know the site was deliberately covered in ancient times."

That sounds pretty convinced to me. Could be interesting to see how they arrived at that conviction. Are there any good papers that these guys wrote?

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Post by Interested Onlooker » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:03 pm

R/S -

I guess the magnitude of a Black Sea flood would have to be the question. The site is on the other side of the Kargapazari mountains to the Black Sea. The same mountain range that feeds the Euphrates.

Gobekli Tepe is adjacent to an ancient river bed.

Rokcet Scientist

Post by Rokcet Scientist » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:15 pm

That may all be true. It doesn't change the fact that the archeologists apparently claim to 'know' it was deliberately covered. That's a level up on theories and premises, in my book.
Would be interesting to know what makes them so certain.

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Post by AD » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:30 pm

"...rather the archeologists know the site was deliberately covered in ancient times."
Right, weasel wording, basically, without explanation, leaving the impression of process of elimination. And "know" in any language tends to raise a red flag with me, particularly in the context of what people thousands of years ago may or may not have been doing. A description of the overlying strata would be helpful, not necessarily to be expected in the narration of a very short video.

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Post by Ishtar » Tue May 06, 2008 1:28 pm

This is from Wiki:

The buildings are covered with settlement refuse that must have been brought from elsewhere. These deposits include flint tools like scrapers and arrowheads and animal bones. The lithic inventory is characterised by Byblos points and numerous Nemrik-points. There are Helwan-points and Aswad-points as well.

There is no evidence of habitation; the structures are interpreted as temples. After 8000 BC, the site was abandoned and purposely covered up with soil.

Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BC, "Navel Mountain" lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new circumstances to human life in the area. But the complex was not gradually abandoned and simply forgotten, to be obliterated by the forces of nature over time. Instead, it was deliberately covered with 300 to 500 cubic metres of soil. Why this happened is unknown, but it preserved the monuments for posterity.
One would assume that these guys are expert enough to tell the difference between a site that had been deliberately covered with soil and settlement refuse from elsewhere, and one that had been covered over time by windblown soil.

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Post by Ishtar » Tue May 06, 2008 1:53 pm

This is from the same Wiki article about Gobekli Tepe:
For example, we cannot tell why more and more walls were gradually added to the interiors while the sanctuary was in use.
This can be compared to the constant plastering and replastering of the walls that went on at Catalhoyuk:

From a certain point in the history of Catalhoyuk onwards, the use of horn cores and skull bones increased, and the bulls' heads were constructed around these parts of actual animals. As time passed, it seemed that animals began to emerge more and more 'literally' from the walls. Simultaneously, the moulded bucrania became more and more like the plastered human skulls of the other Near Eastern Neolithic sites.....

Most of these three-dimensional mural images were replastered many times. In one of the rooms, six foot long facng leopards were replastered at least 40 times, during which process they lost their sharp outlines. Replastering was also practised on female figures. Some images were replastered up to a hundred times. Renewal of images by means of the very substance of the walls themselves was, we argue, a meaningful act, not juist an aesthetic refurbishing. The fact that, in the case of the leopards, and indeed other images as well, the patterns painted on some layers of plaster were similar to but not identical with those on earlier layers suggests repeated appropriations and re-creations of these images. The act of making and remaking was as important as - or perhaps more important than - the finished image.
This is part of Lewis Williams' theory that the Neolithic homes at Catalhoyuk and other Near Eastern sites were not separate to the prevailing mystical belief system, as today where our home is separate to the church. The walls were not just functional in that they separated rooms. They were also the membrane to 'the other dimension' and they and their iconic objects were constantly in the process of being made and remade as part of their rituals - perhaps rather like the 'more and more walls' being gradually added at Gobekli Tepe.

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Post by woodrabbit » Tue May 06, 2008 11:48 pm

The build up of walls/surfaces can be seen as a revisiting of ritual. Current travel in India will reveal shrines large and small that have de-evolved into blobs of offerings, but no less potent, alive and renewed daily.

As for Gobekli Tepe being filled in, this is not hard to determine.... lack of adjacent stratification, consistent carbon dating thru fill area, etc.
Its more complicated than it seems.

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Post by Ishtar » Wed May 07, 2008 2:21 am

Some of you have asked what makes these Near East sites mystic or shamanic in their origin. This article helps to answer some of those questions:

http://www.canew.org/lecbischoffbox.html

According to Robert Layton (1987, 1992, 2000), in totemism each social group takes representations of animal and plants as exclusive emblems. In shamanism, some animal species are preferred in the spiritual meetings for the shamans, but otherwise available for all members of the society. In this way, totemic art is restricted to settlements which represent significant points in the group territory, while, on the other hand, domestic art will be present in all domestic settlements. Still other settlements are preferred for the spiritual quest of the shamans.

In one way or another, settlements like Göbekli Tepe (Schmidt 1995, 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 1999, 2000a, 2000b, 2000c), Gürcü Tepe (Schmidt 1998a, 1999, 2000b), Nevali Çori (Hauptmann 1988, 1992, 1993, 1999), Çayönü (Davis 1998; Özdogan 1995, 1999; Schirmer 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990), Urfa-Yeni Yol and Karahan Tepe are meeting places for the accomplishment of initiation and passage rites to adult age. Following such a distribution, we could propose that in Southeast Anatolia the three recognisable universal aspects of cosmogony, that is, shamanism, totemism and domestic art, find their expression throughout domestic habitations and in extraordinary buildings and plazas (Hauptmann 1999).

The totemic dimension, through animals and natural forces, meets the social dimension of the ancestors. Pillars are put in the earth as links between the underworld and the world and upper world, the sky. Animals such as foxes, lions, aurochs, wild pigs and birds refer to the origination forces as well as to different ethnical marks, as totemic groups. Animals such as snakes (reptiles having an amphibian condition) deal with two worlds, just as – in other regions and continents – iguana, caiman, frog, anaconda or fish are also able to act in two worlds. Given that the representations are mostly animal, people made an animal choice following the passage from one level of the world into the other: underworld, world, sky and related different animals. Shamanism explains this choice.

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Post by Beagle » Wed May 07, 2008 1:52 pm

One of the first and most apparent things about this site would have been that the soil was not stratified. As the excavation proceeds cm by cm, and soil samples are examples, it would be indisputable that the place had been covered up.

There is some thought that the water supply to this place dried up, making it untenable, and that the covering up was essentially a burial.

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Post by Rokcet Scientist » Wed May 07, 2008 8:42 pm

That makes sense, Beags and wood. Thanks.

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Post by Ishtar » Thu May 08, 2008 1:59 am

Here's a very recent interview with Schmidt on Gobekli Tepe.

This article appeared in the Guardian on Wednesday April 23 2008 on p21 of the International section. It was last updated at 00:09 on April 23 2008.

As a child, Klaus Schmidt used to grub around in caves in his native Germany in the hope of finding prehistoric paintings. Thirty years later, a member of the German Archaeological Institute, he found something infinitely more important: a temple complex almost twice as old as anything comparable on the planet….

"This place is a supernova," said Schmidt, standing under a lone tree on a windswept hilltop 35 miles north of Turkey's border with Syria. "Within a minute of first seeing it I knew I had two choices: go away and tell nobody, or spend the rest of my life working here."

"Everybody used to think only complex, hierarchical civilisations could build such monumental sites, and that they only came about with the invention of agriculture", said Ian Hodder, a Stanford University professor of anthropology who has directed digs at Catalhoyuk, Turkey's best known neolithic site, since 1993.

"Gobekli changes everything. It's elaborate, it's complex and it is pre-agricultural. That alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time."

With only a fraction of the site opened up after a decade of excavation, Gobekli Tepe's significance to the people who built it remains unclear. Some think it was the centre of a fertility rite, with the two tall stones at the centre of each circle representing a man and woman. It is a theory the tourist board in nearby Urfa has taken up with alacrity. Visit the Garden of Eden, its brochures trumpet; see Adam and Eve.

Schmidt is sceptical. He agrees Gobekli Tepe may well be "the last flowering of a semi-nomadic world that farming was just about to destroy", and points out that if it is in near perfect condition today, it is because those who built it buried it soon after under tons of soil, as though its wild animal-rich world had lost all meaning.

But the site is devoid of the fertility symbols found at other neolithic sites, and the T-shaped columns, while clearly semi-human, are sexless.

"I think here we are face to face with the earliest representation of gods," said Schmidt, patting one of the biggest stones. "They have no eyes, no mouths, no faces. But they have arms and they have hands. They are makers.

"In my opinion, the people who carved them were asking themselves the biggest questions of all. What is this universe? Why are we here?"

With no evidence of houses or graves near the stones, Schmidt believes the hilltop was a site of pilgrimage for communities within a radius of roughly a hundred miles. The tallest stones all face south-east, as if scanning plains that are scattered with contemporary sites in many ways no less remarkable than Gobekli Tepe.

Last year, for instance, French archaeologists working at Djade al-Mughara in northern Syria uncovered the oldest mural ever found. "Two square metres of geometric shapes, in red, black and white - like a Paul Klee painting", said Eric Coqueugniot, of the University of Lyon, who is leading the excavation.

Coqueugniot describes Schmidt's hypothesis that Gobekli Tepe was a meeting point for rituals as "tempting", given its spectacular position. But surveys of the region were still in their infancy. "Tomorrow, somebody might find somewhere even more dramatic."

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