Karahan Tepe
© Berna Namoglu – Shutterstock
Karahan Tepe is a site close to Gobekli Tepe, and roughly the same age (see Karahan Tepe - The Sister site to Gobekli Tepe) it was discovered in 1997 but not surveyed until 2000. This revealed basin like pools carved in hard rock, and a collection of tools such as adzes, chisels, beads, stone pot fragments, grinding stones and pestles.

There were also arrowheads, scrapers, perforators, blades etc, made of flint or obsidian. This suggested to the archaeologists the people of Karahan Tepe were essentially hunter gatherers - or they practised animal husbandry. A lack of farmed vegetation was the biggest surprise.No evidence of cereals for example, or legumes. Nothing.

The site is now classified as pre pottery and pre-Neolithic, and is dated between 10,000 and 6500BC. This corresponds to nearby sites such as Gobekli Tepe and Sefer Tepe etc. What is clear is that the site was intentionally built by the inhabitants as the wider site is said to contain circular homes. The ritual complex and ceremonial structures have been found cut into the bedrock.

The same subject is at Graham Hancock.com which is more speculative (and see also The Daily Mail's article). The enclosure is cut into solid bedrock, he says, and is quite deep. Ten of the pillars in the ritual enclosure are also cut into bedrock. Meanwhile, at Astronomy.com we have a mainstream response to various theories on Gobekli Tepe, including Hancock and Sweatman. These are lumped as astronomical theories that are disliked by archaeologists, we are told. Astronomy is basically a magazine rather than a journal and it is unclear if Sweatman saw Gobekli Tepe as an observatory. He did think it contained astronomical information, such as interpreting the animal symbols as constellations, and so on. That is quite different from an observatory.
Gobekli Tepe
© 0meer/Shuttestock
The remains of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. It is one of the oldest settlements in the world.
He perceived it as recording information of events in the immediate past. One might also say the piece begins with a misnomer by saying 12,000 years ago, roughly 10,000BC, the northern hemisphere was covered in enormous Ice Age glaciers. Gobekli Tepe is currently dated post Younger Dryas, and thousands of years after the end of the Late Glacial Maximum [when an ice sheet did extend over NW Europe and NE North America]. It seems to be an amateurish rebuttal of non-mainstream ideas, the purpose of which is unclear as it is an astronomy magazine read by people interested in astronomical events.

One doesn't have to accept Hancock or Sweatman as more evidence is required, but somebody out there appears to be frightened catastrophism is being disseminated to the great unwashed. As the saying goes. Archaeologists themselves have no clue what Gobekli Tepe is about. One interesting point being they assume the animal symbols are a key to the builders - and therefore are responsible for the idea they were simple hunter gatherers. Gobekli Tepe itself would suggest something else was afoot. What is clear, by insisting they were hunter gatherers only, rather than say, settled pastoralists that knew a bit about carpentry and stone masonry, they have upturned mainstream themselves.

Previously, academics were convinced such complex structures could only have been built after the adoption of agriculture - and complex religions only emerged after this, at a later stage of development. Who knows what are the origins of religion. That is down to investigation - and the luck of finds buried in the soil. We do know that Mesolithic hunter gatherers in the UK, around 6000BC or earlier, had a lot of artisan skills, such as carpenty and boat building. They also encouraged the growth of hazlenut shrubs as they used the nut as a winter staple. What else were they skilled in?

The entire hill that Gobekli Tepe stands on was constructed by humans. All the dirt hides dozens of structures spread over an area 10,000 feet wide and 50 feet tall. Locals called it potbelly hill. Large, intimately decorated stone circles were built, and later, buried in dirt and sand, and another one built. It even seems construction at the site may go back as early as 14,000 years ago - and some have even suggested 15,000 years ago, two dates preceding the Younger Dryas period.

It was, it seems, a ritual site as no burials have been found, or homes. The people lived elsewhere, temporarily or permanently. This leaves a big question - why did these people gather together in large numbers at Gobekli Tepe? That is the mystery. It is an assumption that civilisation proceeded from hunter gatherer to farmer in a logical succession. That is a relic of Marxist thinking, or the idea of evolution as a continuous pathway upwards. The same goes for the origin of religion. It is more likely to originate in catastrophic events - which is why so many societies in the ancient world practised sacrifice, to placate the gods in the sky.