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ABSTRACT

Gobekli Tepe is a remarkable ancient archaeological site in southern Turkey featuring several sub-circular temple-like enclosures adorned with many carved symbols. The oldest radiocarbon date obtained, so far, for the site places one of its enclosures, Enclosure D, at the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic boundary, circa 9,500 BCE. Earlier work provided an astronomical interpretation for some of its symbolism, focussing on the animal symbols which were interpreted in terms of familiar constellations.

Here, that earlier interpretation is extended by showing how V-symbols on Pillar 43 in Enclosure D, in particular, can be interpreted in terms of a lunisolar calendar system, which would make it the oldest known example of its type. Furthermore, it is shown that a stone 11-pillar pool structure at neighbouring Karahan Tepe can also be interpreted in terms of the same lunisolar calendar system.

Other V-symbols at Gobekli Tepe are also interpreted in astronomical terms. Finally, it is shown how the Urfa Man statue and a carving at Sayburc can be interpreted as time-controlling or creator deities. Symbolic links with later cultures from the Fertile Crescent are explored.
Pillar D
© Image courtesy of Alistair Coombs
Figure 1. Left: Plan of Enclosures A to D at Gobekli Tepe. Right: Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe, Enclosure D.

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