By Hugh Newman | Ancient Origins
At 6,500 years older than Stonehenge, and 7,000 years before the pyramids were constructed, a cult megalithic complex sat atop the hills near current day Sanliurfa, in southeast Turkey. Göbekli Tepe was flourishing an astonishing 12,000 – 14,000 years ago, and today, the preserved remains still exhibit high degrees of sophistication and megalithic engineering skill. Back in the 1990’s when Robert Schoch exclaimed that the Sphinx could be many thousands of years older than previously thought, he was ridiculed. Graham Hancock’s popular theories of a 12,000-year-old Ice-age civilization were slammed. Now today, there stands a unique and remarkably ancient complex that is shaking the foundations of science and history, awakening an interest in our human origins, and has been carbon-dated by German archaeologists to the end of the last ice-age.
The Ancient Megalithic Site of Gobekli Tepe
In September 2013, I had the opportunity to go and see Göbekli Tepe for myself. I joined forces with authors Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock on a Megalithomania expedition around Turkey to investigate this enigmatic discovery. Graham was as astonished as I was. For such an old structure, the quality of stonework and abstract artistic skill, just seems like it should not have existed at this time.
T-shaped pillars and a fox relief at Göbekli Tepe
American archaeologist Peter Benedict first discovered something was going on there in 1963, noticing prehistoric flints all over the area. He also discovered some broken fragments of beautifully crafted T-shaped blocks with relief carvings. However, due to the superior quality of the stonework, they were classified as Byzantium artifacts. Interestingly, this stone that is now on display in Urfa museum, looks conspicuously like one I had previously seen at Sillustani in Peru. In 1994, a German archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt, recognized Göbekli Tepe as part of the ‘pre-pottery neolithic’ culture because this style of carving was similar to a site he had worked at earlier – Nevalı Çori.
What strikes people when they visit this site is the intricacy of the stonework, the size of the megalithic pillars, and the sheer magnitude of the man-made hill it was carefully covered with. The original construction was built on solid bedrock, then mounds were constructed on top of these, and further structures built on top over a period of around two thousand years, with the final enclosures containing smaller stones and less sophistication than the earlier levels. The larger, older pillars at the lower levels, show bas-relief carvings of various animals, reptiles, birds and serpents. Some pillars seem to represent strange, abstract statues of humans, wearing space-age belts, with long, bent arms and ‘H’ type letters (on every pillar in enclosure D). Most impressive is a strange creature in three dimensional high-relief showing beautiful craftsmanship and originality (for that period). So there are several types of relief carvings at Göbekli Tepe. The 3D high-relief, the shallow reliefs of animals, ‘H’s, and the humanoid arms and belts, plus a rougher style that occurs on the later levels, although incredibly, this still dates to around 8,000 years old.
I found the shaping of the pillars interesting too. Why choose such a specific design? It is an abstract construction that sits gently on the bedrock, in very shallow pits. Some of the pillars are 18ft high, with the top part of the ‘T’ carved to look like it is a separate block to the main pillar, although it is actually one piece. There are finely carved rims and shaping that reminded me of Tiwanaku in Bolivia, and some other sites around Peru. Another interesting aspect of the site are the unusual cup-marks that are found, mainly on the bedrock, but also on top of some of the oldest the pillars, that may at some point, shed some light on the cup-mark phenomenon in Britain, many thousands of years later.
Cup-marks and a pillar base at Göbekli Tepe
Megalithic Walls at Alaca Höyük Resemble Peruvian Constructions
As part of the expedition, we also visited a Hittite site called Alaca Höyük, near Ankara, the modern capital city of Turkey. Its earliest inhabitants were the Hattians, who were earth-based goddess worshipers, with roots in the stone-age, who flourished from around 2350 BC to 1700 BC. Although much younger than Göbekli Tepe, the megalithic walls are indistinguishable from polygonal walls found all over Peru. The jigsaw, irregularly shaped blocks, with some weighing more than twenty tons apiece are a unique style that were once thought to only exist in that part of South America, but on my travels, I have seen them all up the west coast of Italy, on Easter Island, and in Egypt, plus they have been photographed in Delphi, Greece, Albania, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Although separated by many millennia and vast distances, this style is possibly the most difficult style to accomplish, as each block needs to be carved extremely accurately so they fit together and stay together over the years, even through earthquakes. But at Alaca Höyük, and nearby Hattusu, they are not flat-faced walls, they look ‘puffy’, basically protruding from the joins, which some researchers say look like ‘pillows’. It does not seem to follow any particular plan, but it was a popular technique favored by the ancient megalith builders. This begs the question, was there a global megalithic stonemasonry elite in prehistory? Did they diffuse this influence around the world and construct specific sites? And with so many similarities to sites in Peru and Bolivia, there was only one thing to do.
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Peruvian Relief Carvings Match Those at Göbekli Tepe
Fortunately, I was co-organizing a Megalithomania trip to Peru and Bolivia in November 2013 with David Hatcher Childress and Brien Foerster. We headed to Cuzco- ‘The Navel of the World’. Interestingly, Göbekli Tepe’s name has a similar meaning (‘Hill of the Navel’) and is one of many ‘world navels’ or ‘sacred centers’. Cuzco is a megalithic city. Its foundations are made up of polygonal and precision carved stone, which is quite a sight when you first visit there. Further southwest on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the strange ‘Chulpu’s’, that are officially circular funerary towers, are built of huge megalithic blocks and hold several ancient secrets. On high bluffs, always with a steep climb up to them, these towers are a mystery, made with startling engineering precision, obviously meant to last for several generations. The most famous example is Sillustani, a site I have visited many times. Not only does it have circular towers, it has a unique square ‘chulpa’ that is made of huge finely cut polygonal blocks. The mystery here is that it is an almost perfect match of one of the platforms on Easter Island, some 2,600 miles away across the Pacific Ocean. Sillustani has several relief carvings that closely resemble those at Göbekli Tepe, including serpents, lizards, foxes, pumas and other unusual creatures. One tower that is partly intact shows a beautiful, but very weathered lizard that can only be seen at certain times of day when the sun reaches round to its location on the tower.
Perhaps as the sun revolved around the circular towers, the reliefs got exposed only at certain times of day. Could this have been a useful clock, or did it have some other shamanic meaning? I wonder if Göbekli Tepe was used in a similar way, as whoever repaired the site and covered it with thousands of tons of dirt, may have wanted to keep the pillars, and therefore the reliefs, in their correct position, suggesting they may hold astronomical secrets that have yet to be deciphered.
Cutimbo is another chulpa site further around the lake, about 25 km from Puno, the nearest major town. The stonework here reaches another level of complexity, with the beautiful ‘puffy’ polygonal stonework, along with some exquisite reliefs, including serpents, pumas, and even faces of creatures emerging from the rock. As you can see from the images the similarities to Göbekli Tepe are there. The faces that emerge from the rock, look like the stone ‘totem’ statue found at Göbekli Tepe, now in Urfa museum.