Thoughts on the Gobekli Tepe
We are flying out of Sanliurfa after having visited the Gobekli Tepe four times, twice with a group of enthusiasts and twice alone, just the two of us. Rosemary is practiced in shamanic journeywork so we brought along some headphones and some drumming tracks on her i-Pod so that we might take the opportunity to inquire, at a different level of consciousness, what had happened at this enigmatic site.
We took photos at various hours of the day and from time to time spoke with Veysi, the resident guard and tourist manager. His father, a local resident, had assisted the archaeologist Klaus Schmidt to enter this site during its discovery in the 90s. We were not able to meet Klaus Schmidt nor did we visit the quarry with its “unfinished monolith” that lies there evocatively, apparently for ten thousand years. We did however walk far out onto the southern point from which one can look back at the Gobekli Tepe and capture the scale of the endeavor that our early forebears took upon themselves in crafting this artificial mountain-top temple… Or should we call it a “temple graveyard”, considering that they (or someone) buried this immense project under untold yards of earth and stones after centuries of usage?
The Gobekli Tepe, evocatively located in the biblical “land of Eden” in southeastern Turkey is apparently the oldest hand-crafted temple site known to man, exceeding the age of any other by thousands of years. Indeed, this temple was built and abandoned millennia before the biblical character Abraham was born just a few miles away in ancient Edessa (now Urfa). The age of the site in itself would be enough to raise eyebrows, but additionally the earthwork and stonework that was undertaken here is almost impossible to comprehend. The magnitude of the stonework had me convinced at one point that the people that built this site almost MUST have had tools at their disposal that were much more sophisticated than what Neolithic man possessed. Had they been assisted by another race of beings? Was this site not built by humans at all? But then I noticed the flint chips… literally HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of them, littering the mountaintop and the layers beneath our feet. And it becomes abundantly clear that untold hundreds of people were involved with this project over a great deal of time, and that they DID use Neolithic hammers and chisels and other tools fashioned of stone, primarily flint and obsidian. The broken fragments of flint attested to this without argument.
The multi-ton monolithic “statues” were cut from a quarry that lies about a kilometer away (by my visual estimate). They were laboriously chiseled from the bedrock and finished to a high degree of accuracy (and artistic expression) and then manually hauled, without wheels, over the rough landscape before being erected into a carefully formed receptacle in the bedrock of the temple. Their expression is precise and evocative. The amount of site preparation was significant. When you see the remains of this project and consider what it would take, even with modern tools, to clear this site, build the temple, and then hide it from view, all with hand labor, it just boggles the mind. In fact, once you wrap your head around this, there arises an intense sense of pride in what human beings are able to accomplish when their mind is set. And this thought is related to another… that the constructors and users of this temple were EXACTLY like us, even though they lived ten thousand years earlier. Like our Paleolithic cousins who artistically adorned their cave walls tens of thousands of years earlier, these people were EXACTLY like us as a species. Volumes could be (and probably are) written on this subject, but it seems to me a pivotal point in understanding what the Tepe has to teach us. What brought about this level of vision and determination is unknown, but the physical evidence of their lives and dreams, their struggle and indeed their insistence as a species to create a meaningful expression and follow its roadmap – is everywhere apparent in this prehistoric dig.
There are numerous stone monoliths at the site. Some are immensely heavy and stand upward of twenty feet in height, maybe four feet wide and a foot deep. The prevailing theme in shape is of a stylized humanoid figure in the shape of a “T”, with the arms of the T representing the face and the back of the head. There are no facial features but there are slender arms with elbows bent and slender hands crossed in front at the waistline. Some of these stone figures are slightly curved at the “back” and the figure seems to lean forward slightly in an expression of appreciation. Others are straight and square, vertical in posture. I couldn’t help but notice that the builders seemed to purposely convey these differences, as if the various monoliths may have depicted individual personalities or different attributes of a race of beings, whether human or otherwise. There were perfectly round holes “drilled” horizontally through the heads of some of these “statues”. These holes were not in the exact same position on each figure. Perhaps this had to do with the individual nature of the being. These holes may have contained horizontal wooden supports at one time, extending from each side as an aid to further embellish the figures. Additionally there are many shallow round divots, each a few inches in diameter, on the tops of the heads. These may also have had something to do with securing head-dresses or other enhancements. It is easy to imagine the impact that such “clothing” on these giants would have had on the viewer.
The stones are set up in concentric rings and it is easy to imagine a person entering the temple and moving amongst the various figures. It is our opinion that these figures were more than imaginative “idols” being worshipped by a primitive people, but that instead that they were three-dimensional representations of something that these ancient people had actually seen and learned from. Whether there had been a “visitation” by some alien race, some ancient Atlantean culture, or some shared vision of another reality by our forebears is not known. However, something incredible was EXPERIENCED by our early forebears in this region to have inspired this impossibly challenging task. Human beings never make such efforts lacking a commensurate inspiration.
The vision that set this temple into motion may have occurred NEARBY as opposed to “on site” because the peculiar T-shaped monoliths, or close approximations, are found at other similarly ancient sites in the region, though not necessarily in a temple format. Such sites would include the now-submerged site of Nevali Cori, which is not far from Gobekli Tepe and has been dated to a similar time. Additionally, the site of the Gobekli Tepe temple would not be suitable for habitation, being on a nearly barren mountain-top and with no water. It only makes sense that the creators as well as the attendees of this site would have come from the plains and valleys which lie just below. The visions or experiences which inspired the Tepe’s peculiar expression probably came from somewhere away from the mountain top as well.
Rosemary engaged in two successful shamanic journies during her visit to the Gobekli Tepe which seemed to back up the afore-mentioned ideas. In a short trance session under the tree at the top of the Tepe, she observed a person, a hermaphrodite, who had traveled across some distance to arrive at this place thousands of years ago. The place now known as the Gobekli Tepe was situated at the intersection of two powerful “ley-lines” on the earth, one masculine and one feminine in nature. And these ley-lines were instrumental to the man who traveled from a distant location along the masculine line until he arrived at the feminine intersection on the top of this mountain. It was from this person’s understanding that this particular location was originally chosen. Rosemary’s session was short and it was difficult to sit undisturbed at the top of the hill due to the many flies that land upon a person as well as the disturbance caused by occasional tourists who visit the site. She intends, once home, to return to this inquiry utilizing shamanic methods. As to whether her personal discoveries reflect reality of the past, this is obviously open to one’s own beliefs and understanding.
For me the Gobekli Tepe is primarily about two things.
- • Mankind has not been the only intelligent race of beings on this earth. The evidence points to an ancient and cooperative relationship, and perhaps several, between human beings and more advanced race(s).
The Tepe speaks of man’s relationship to extraordinary beings (or at least extraordinary realities) from the distant past that must be included in the story of our species and culture. The Gobekli Tepe is one of the latest of a long list of prehistoric “signatures” that have been left upon the earth and which hint at a very advanced level of capacity and intelligence, beyond that which a species would achieve along “Darwinian“ lines. The actual construction of the Gobekli Tepe in itself may not prove this, as man obviously DID achieve its creation and maintenance. But the huge multi-ton beings which greet you there, with their familiar, yet alien expressions, seem too much to have simply sprung from the minds of hunter-gatherers, inspiring them to literally “move mountains”, merely as a result of dreams or primordial fear. Had these people somehow been in contact with something shockingly real, something that assured that this would become a part of their culture, their spirit-view of the world? The ancient Egyptian record, while “screaming loudest” through the physical reality of the Great Pyramid at Giza, is by no means the only other evidence of this. But that record, etched in stone, of a pantheon of God-like therianthropes (part human, part animal) seems to exemplify this oft-repeated record of mankind’s encounter and relationship with powerful beings who provided man instruction, mythology, and religion, not to mention certain skill-sets which may have included masonry, agriculture, astronomy, and much more. Here at the Gobekli Tepe we have a ten to fourteen-thousand-year-old record in stone of a relationship with extraordinary beings, or at the very least with an extraordinary insight into and reverence for life, for our inner nature, possibly for certain universalities, all which seems unlikely to have come suddenly from a few bands of berry-pickers and hunters.
- • God and “the gods” are not the same thing. Even the gods are subject to spiritual truths. Man has a timeless relationship with truth, or God… and an archaic relationship with “the gods”.
One cannot explore the origins of mankind without encountering “the gods” and “God”, and here at the Gobekli Tepe we potentially see this relationship again. The great T-shaped being that bends his back to you as you stand before him seems to admit in stone to his abeyance to cosmic rules. Just as the gods of ancient Egypt are depicted as wise enough to understand the “weighing of the heart” in the journey to the afterlife, so too are the anthropomorphic beings at Gobekli depicted as thoughtful and respectful of a nature that is bigger than themselves.
This distinction between God (with a capitol G) and “the gods” is rarely discussed, but this is very important in understanding ourselves and our ancient past. From a purely practical point of view, from a vantage point of simple tangible reality, it is obviously important to make this distinction. Super-beings with god-like power must not be mistaken for something of infinite nature, just as the discovery of dinosaur fossils must not derail our ability to think rationally about the story of life on earth. It is what it is and if it can be measured and understood, well that is naturally undertaken. But this is not God.
But what if beings from our ancient past were not only powerful – so powerful that they could raise a 100-ton block of stone – but powerful in that they understood the motions of the universe, and perhaps even the relationship between those motions and our experienced reality such that this understanding seemed “supernatural” or god-like? Would they then be God? And the answer is still…. no.
Mankind in ancient times would have learned a great deal from such beings (he might have even been purposely altered by such beings). And if these beings departed from man’s experience he would have memorialized them in stone and in myth. And this memorializing would have been later construed as worship – something that would only be partially true.
Thousands of years after Gobekli Tepe was buried, Abraham was born in the same region. And it was his offspring that would rail against the worshipping of idols or “graven images”. Is it possible that the “memorializing” that occurred at Gobekli Tepe, that the mystical journeying into the nature of life that may have occurred there, would be seen later as nothing more than “idol worship”?
On a final note…
The National Geographic article (which I re-read when we got home) states that “Other parts of the hill were littered with the greatest store of ancient flint tools Schmidt had ever seen – a Neolithic warehouse of knives, choppers, and projectile points. Even though the stone had to be lugged from neighboring valleys, Schmidt says, “there were more flints in one little area here, a square meter or two, than many archaeologists find in entire sites.”
Also from the Geographic article…
“To judge by the thousands of gazelle and aurochs bones found at the site, the workers seem to have been fed by constant shipments of game, brought from faraway hunts.”
Well… where were the “chopper tools” and the “auroch bones” on display when we visited the Gobekli Tepe and the Sanliurfa museum? Did I miss something? The flint chips were EVERYWHERE but there seemed to be little emphasis on this point and certainly it would have helped me in gaining a better perspective if I’d seen a few of these stone tools and some of the animal bones.
It’s amazing that a place like this, with the nearest water three miles away, could have afforded the sweat and toil that would have been required of simple hunter-gatherers, or anyone for that matter. We need to stretch our minds a little, give our ancient ancestors credit for being as intelligent as we are, and ask seriously, “what happened here?”.
Guest Post By Terry (and Rosemary) Fitzsimmons