Archaeoastronomy, meteor showers, mass extinction: What does the fox say? (And what the crane? The aurochs?)

Recently a (peer-reviewed) paper published by M. Sweatman and D. Tsikritsis, two researchers of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, has made headlines, suggesting that the Göbekli Tepe enclosures actually were space observatories and that some of the reliefs depict a catastrophic cosmic event (the original publication in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 17(1), 2017 is accessible online here [external link]).

A selection of the carved reliefs found on many of Göbekli Tepe’s T-shaped pillars is linked to and interpreted as depiction of actual stellar constellations. In particular Pillar 43, which is indeed an outstanding (but actually not exceptional) example of the site’s  rich and complex iconography, is interpreted as record of a meteor shower and collision – with quite serious consequences for life on earth 13,000 – 12,000 years ago (this whole ‘Younger Dryas Impact’ hypothesis [external link] actually is disputed itself [external link], so making Göbekli Tepe a ‘smoking gun’ in this argument should absolutely ask for a closer look).

GT06_P43_N09.32_ 600_A4.jpg

Pillar 43 in Göbekli Tepe’s Enclosure D. (Photo: K. Schmidt, DAI)

Debate regarding a possible astronomic link and interpretation of the architecture and the characteristic pillars in particular are as old as the history of research regarding Göbekli Tepe, but as of yet no convincing proof for an actual celestial orientation or observation of such phenomena could have been put forward. We always were and still are open to consider these discussions. So, of course we were looking into the new study with quite some interest, too. After all it is a new and fascinating interpretation. However, upon closer inspection we as excavators of this important site would like to raise a few points which may challenge this interpretation in our point of view:

1. There still is quite a significant probability that the older circular enclosures of Göbekli Tepe’s Layer III actually were subterranean buildings – possibly even covered by roof constructions. This then somehow would limit their usability as actual observatories a bit.

2. Even if we assume that the night sky 12,000 years ago looked exactly like today’s, the question at hand would be whether a prehistoric hunter really would have put together the very same asterisms and constellations we recognise today (most of them going back to ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek scholars and descriptions)?

3. Contrary to the article’s premise the unearthed features at Göbekli Tepe are not  shrouded in mystery. Published over the last years and decades, there is ample scientific literature available which unfortunately did not find its way into the study. The  specific animals depicted in each enclosure’s iconography for instance seems to follow a certain intention, emphasizing different species in different enclosures. A purely  substitutional interpretation ignores these more subtle but significant details. This also can be demonstrated for instance with the headless man on the shaft of Pillar 43, interpreted as symbol of death and mass extinction in the paper – however silently omitting the emphasised phallus in the same depiction which somehow contradicts the lifeless notion and implies a much more complex narrative behind these reliefs. There are even more reliefs on both narrow sides of P43 which went conpletely uncommented here.

4. It also seems a bit arbitrary to base this interpretation (and all its consequences as described in the paper) on what seems to be some randomly selected pillars and their iconography (the interpretation thus not covering “much of the symbolism of Göbekli Tepe” as stated in the paper, but merely the tip of that iceberg). In the meantime more than 60 monumental T-pillars could have been unearthed in the older Layer III – many of these showing similar reliefs of animals and abstract symbols, a few even as complex as Pillar 43 (like Pillar 56 or Pillar 66 in enclosure H, for example). And it does not end there: the same iconography is prominently known also from other find groups like stone vessels, shaft straighteners, and plaquettes – not only from Göbekli Tepe, but a variety of contemporary sites in the wider vicinity.

So, with all due respect for the work and effort the Edinburgh colleagues obviously put into their research and this publication, there still are – at least from our perspective as excavators of this important site – some points worth a detailed discussion. A more thorough exchange with the excavation team could have clarified many of these concerns.

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109 thoughts on “Archaeoastronomy, meteor showers, mass extinction: What does the fox say? (And what the crane? The aurochs?)

  1. Sounds like your approach is a good deal more rigorous than that of the Edinburgh engineer group’s. I recall another engineer from the seventies, Alexander Thom, who cherry-picked facts to support his theories regarding the use of megalithic stone circles as astronomical observatories. Re the Younger Dryas, I’ve always assumed the people who developed the skills needed to construct GT must have been living elsewhere at that time: the conditions must have been too harsh prior to 11,600 BP to support the numbers needed?

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    • I’m just a lay man no experience in this field but I have an interest. To me you can all argue about what you want and convince yourselves that you are all right. You use words like “must have” but you do not know. You have no evidence no knowledge of this. This site could be a library and the food grown shown to hunter gathers that they do not need to be nomadic anymore but can grow food the animals could be a reference to what they can eat or not eat the whole place could be a learning tool as many other sites like this could be even warnings etc how to avoid them. If you think about it a library would be reverered as a “temple” because it would be a place of learning with “priests” as librarians it is only humans who turn things like this into a temple so that they (the priests) only hand out knowledge when they wish forming an hierarchy that becomes tainted and subsequently overthrown. How would you get rid of this knowledge without upsetting the so called “gods”? You think it would be a good idea to bury the place so no harm would come to you depending on your beliefs. No doubt any theories that have no solid foundation or education on a subject can be reticuled by people who may have studied and have University degrees but the people who formed these ideas in their heads in the first place are projecting their thoughts and actually did not have a University education as they bought theses ideas that is accepted as ‘education’ today. I would cite Einstein as a great example of who bucks this trend.

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  2. Yes! Your comments are very fine and balanced, and I hope you will continue to comment in such a cogent way about these very hypothetical (I think often quite
    imaginary and even absurd) takes on the meaning and history of an amazing site.

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    • Thanks! They certainly would have benefited from doing some more general archaeological research rather than leap to conclusions about early holocene astronomy.

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  3. It is very unfortunate that people with little knowledge of the archaeology of Göbekli Tepe can somehow get their absurd “alternative facts” and non-sequiturs published in what claims to be a legitimate academic journal. Incidentally, the article does nothing for the reputation of the journal, its editorial staff, and its supposedly rigorous peer-review process. Such fantastic imaginations attract journalists, but I was very surprised to see that the magazine New Scientist, which has a very wide readership, published a short piece about the article in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeoastronomy. The story was credited to (anonymous) staff and the Press Association. So I suspect that the story is being promoted by the Press Association, which means that it will appear widely in newspapers around the world. Suspiciously, the New Scientist piece includes a direct quote from the lead author, Martin Sweatman. My guess is that the “lead author” is busy promoting his article – which is already listed as one of his “scientific” research publications on his university web-page. I am embarrassed that such poor scholarship is associated with the name of the University of Edinburgh, where I have served as an archaeologist.

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    • Thanks a lot, Trevor. Your thoughts and remarks are – as always – much appreciated and it’s good to know your expertise ready at hand!

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  4. Appreciate the way Jens can keep his cool but really, what’s a very established and respectable university doing publishing this nonsense?

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  5. Thank you so much for this reply. I am being sent the media reports constantly and needed the opinion of a voice I trust. Thank you! I have been pointing to this and will now reblog.

    Lynne

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  6. I appreciate the way you acknowledge that good ideas can come from anywhere, not just from archaeological insiders. But you are also right that a simple consultation with the excavators would have immediately shown the authors of this article that this was a poorly formed hypothesis. It is irritating when those trained in one discipline feel that they can parachute into another and solve all its problems. I too am an archaeologist from Edinburgh, and I will now have to struggle to maintain our outstanding reputation in archaeology by disavowing our own Engineering School (at least as it relates to this article).

    In addition to the reasons you mention, the authors’ argument does not make logical sense and is formed from circular reasoning, a weasel-words method of convincing those who don’t know much about a subject. As pointed out by blogger Jason Colavito, who has been interrogating fringe archaeological theories for years: ‘The authors assumed that the comet really did hit the Earth, and they assumed that Göbekli Tepe should be understood astronomically, and therefore they use those assumptions to prove that the comet hit the Earth and was recorded at Göbekli Tepe.’
    http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/academic-journal-runs-article-claiming-gobekli-tepe-records-comet-strike-misses-fact-that-article-is-based-on-speculative-andrew-collins-book

    I agree with Trevor (comments above) that it is very unfortunate that this made its way to publication in what most people would believe is an academically rigorous journal. How the journal editors let this pass review is not understandable. Now not only will this particular theory take on extra weight, but the likes of pseudoscientists Andrew Collins (whom they cite!) and Graham Hancock will be wringing their palms in glee claiming that they were right all along. Here come the aliens…

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    • Thanks a lot for your comment, Andrew – and the link to Jason’s review of the paper. Some interesting leads I didn’t yet consider. I actually don’t have hard feelings towards the authors who did not attack (well, or actually notice) any of our interpretation. I just wished they had tried to establish contact and exchange beforehand. Science is free and everyone may publish as they (well, and the peer reviewers) like, but I’m sure we could have shed some light on a couple of the questions now coming up.

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      • Regarding the fox paper I can note that both them and Richard below on this site are using software that is not applicable at that time range — the Sun is depicted way outside the ecliptic, which is impossible (the ecliptic is defined as the path of the Sun). That puts a question on the accuracy of their computations.
        Regarding your wish expressed here about establishing contact, I have a few simple questions that you can easily answer, which would be most helpful for my research.
        1. Presuming that the porthole was used for observations of some particular star, it would be most helpful that you tell us the exact dimensions of the portholes in the enclosures D and C (in mm please)! Andrew Collins mentions 25-30 cm, but this is not accurate enough for me to test my hypothesis.
        1a. What was the alignment of portholes (in degrees with margins of error please) ? This information might be helpful for dating the enclosures, independently of C-14.
        1b. What was the exact distance between the portholes and the entrance (in cm please) ?
        2. I wonder if they had domesticated dogs ?
        3. If they did not had domesticated dogs, then shepherding is difficult, and perhaps they were only able to keep a few sheep (as pets), not large flocks. Yet, even that might have enabled them to spend more time on the site than otherwise. This could provide an answer to the resource problem. Can that be distinguished anyhow via the sheep remains ?
        4. Are there any images on the pillars 41 and 42 ?
        5. Considering that the pillars appear randomly numbered, can you tell us the exact procedure on how do you assign numbers to them ?
        6. Are there any not-yet-excavated enclosures at the SE of the enclosure D ?
        7. To what layer does the enclosure F belongs ?
        7a. Are there any different images on the central pillars of the enclosure F, considering that their alignment is markedly different from the other enclosures ?
        7b. Are there any other T-pillars in the enclosure F ?
        8. What is the third image on the pillar 21, beside the gazelle and wild ass ? Is it still unidentified ?
        Thank you kindly for your very transparent work.
        (One might think that some of these questions are outside of the scope of this page, which is correct, but most of them are, And if one considers that the whole site should tell a coherent story), not just a few cherry-picked images (or at least that each enclosure should have a single purpose), then I think it might be good to widen the picture a little bit.)

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      • 1. No porthole stone known from Enclosure D yet, neither in Enclosure C. If you’re referring to ‘entrance’ situation of Enclosure C, these features are discussed here (including measurements).

        1a. & b. We have to beg your pardon that, due to time constraints, we can’t answer individual requests for particular measurements. A detailed catalog of all Layer III pillars (including plans and measurements) is in preparation and will be published soon.

        2. Dogs there among the earliest domesticated animals and at Göbekli Tepe there are a couple of graffiti likely depicting dogs. So this definitely seems an option.

        3. All animal remains found so far are from wild species, agriculture and husbandry apparently did not play a role in these people’s subsistence strategy.

        4.Would need to check back with archives to be sure, but if memory serves well there are reliefs on P41 (partly covered by enclosure’s wall) but none on P42.

        5. Pillars and enclosures are numbered in order of their discovery.

        6. Enclosure C is situated to the SE of D. Naturally, we can’t answer for sure whether there are any more until proven by excavation.

        7., 7a. & b. Still topic of ongoing research.

        8. Unclear since most of this part of the relief is covered by the wall.

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  7. Astronomer here:
    For the record, the stars would have been in fairly similar positions to today. There’s some relative movement, but not so much as it would be that different. (Probably typically maybe a quarter of a degree of relative movement, so half a full-moon. That’s probably well below the recording precision of the medium.) But otherwise, this strikes me as utter tosh. Why focus on equinoxes and solstices? There are cultures that focused more on cross-quarter days, for example. And it’s not clear to me that a culture 12,000 years ago would be able to/interested in working out what asterism the Sun was in at a given time. That constellation (and stuff immediately around it) is basically invisible, even before dawn/after sunset. You *can* work it out by mapping out the stars over a few years and then interpolating, but it takes some dedication and records.
    It’s also probably worth noting that they include constellations no sane person would ever expect to see mapped out, like Ophiuchus. It’s such a faint constellation that most astronomers I know (myself included) can’t really make it out. It’s mostly there to cover that patch of celestial territory more than as a really clear asterism. (Many of the others are also really dodgy associations to believe would be stable across cultures. I can accept Scorpius, which is a fairly bright and easy to make out grouping, but even then they put the claws in Libra — which we do now, but when the asterism was first drawn (by Arabs as well as Greeks, apparently) they were recognized as part of the scorpion.)
    And that’s assuming that they were mapping the sky and that that’s even the Sun that they were recording, as opposed to, say, the Moon.

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    • Thanks, John, for this most useful insight. As I wrote, I’m not an astronomer, so my knowledge about this basically is limited to my school lessons in astronomy and the occasional night spent on the roof. It’s actually quite interesting to read your comments on the rather complex effort that would have to be assumed behind the recognition and record of some of these asterisms. Definitely an information, I’m going to read up. Thanks again!

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    • I disagree about the similarities between star positions today and 12,000 years ago. The precessional motion of the Earth has a period of 26,000 years, which would mean that 12,000 years ago, the constellations would be fairly different from what they are today.

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  8. The whole ‘observatory’ things reeks of ‘television show plus expensive book pitch’. That will naturally give money to these ‘researchers’, but actual Gobekli Tepe archaeology will see little to none of the benefit.

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    • Rather like the tourism focused on GT that the Turkish tourist industry is developing, I suspect.They have no qualms about pursuing the crowd pleasing religious line that GT was the source of Old Testament/Abrahamaic tradition.

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  9. just an observation…their theory seems a little far fetched but they make a great case concerning the “date stamp” and reference that to the various locations throughout North America with elevated levels of platinum dated around the mini ice age event. I’m just a layman but the historical record indicates that global catastrophes caused Earth to hit the reset button several times over. We tend to discount certain periods in history alluding to the fact that those civilizations didn’t have the capability of making these observations but i don’t quite buy that…I think they are on to something…what else would have caused such a sudden change in the climate? The changes lated for a thousand years!!

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    • Interesting points for sure. And I would love to read about this discussion – in a geological paper. Their archaeological (and as it seems judging by some of the comments here, the astronomical) interpretations regarding Göbekli Tepe still are questionable (including the date they provide which contradicts our 14C dates obtained for the site so far).

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  10. My response to the comments here posted elsewhere:

    “Gobekli Tepe:
    It’s frightening. Archaeologists slamming others for not knowing about archaeology, when they actually know nothing about archaeoastronomy. Not even “John” who claims to be “Astronomer here”. It’s time they all took a year out to get some lecturing on archaeoastronomy.

    “…Why focus on equinoxes and solstices?…”

    Dear oh dear! Because that’s how the CYCLES of astronomical time can be observed. Hence the interpretation of “Date Stamp”.
    Unfortunately Sweatman and Tsikritsis have missed the significance of the “H” symbols, but they are correct otherwise in the context of precession.

    “…It’s also probably worth noting that they include constellations no sane person would ever expect to see mapped out, like Ophiuchus. It’s such a faint constellation that most astronomers I know (myself included) can’t really make it out…”.

    Precisely, not being able to make out what fills a space, still gives you the shape of the “space”!

    “…but when the asterism was first drawn (by Arabs as well as Greeks, apparently)…”.

    Again, recorded history paradigm. Modern asterisms extrapolated backwards into prehistory. They actually have no idea what people were capable of in prehistory.

    For heaven’s sake it is the ARCHAEOLOGISTS who have come up with the dates for Gobekli Tepe, outside of their blinkered paradigm, not archaeoastronomy. Exactly what Kuhn is about. “Every age gets the Stonehenge it deserves”. Cobblers, every age gets the archaeology it deserves, and this age of archaeology is doing no favours for future generations – it has no mechanisms to deal with hypotheses outside of archaeology, even when they are clearly scientifically based on valid archaeoastronomical principles. The politeness from some quarters is veiled – note “…prehistoric hunter…” – and they leave the interdisciplinary naive academic correspondents to do the rest of the job – “imaginary”, “absurd” etcetera.

    I think that if Sweatman and Tsikritsis had eased off on the interpretations outside of archaeoastronomy, they would have a very forceful argument. Unfortunately, I think they left themselves open to this kind of attack. They should have stuck to the scientific astronomical facts as a baseline for potential interpretation of other pillars, some of which might, indeed, contain evidence of use of “cross quarter” days.

    Cheers.”

    And to add: References to Alexander Thom, as made here, have become extremely boring. The tide is changing. Archaeology, indeed also archaeoastronomy, threw out the baby with the bathwater. He acknowledged those who built these monuments as his intellectual superiors, and when challenged he said that he states as he finds. Bearing in mind that he was a pioneer, how dare any academic of any status EXPECT him to have had all the answers. Did Einstein?

    The common answer from academia is to refer the matter to Jason Colavito – give us a break, please!

    The bigger they claim to be, the harder they will fall.

    Best wishes.

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    • As I said, I’m not an astronomer so I won’t comment on complex astonomic questions (but still doubt that there is a stable coninuity of asterisms across time and cultures – that would be quite a surprise and we only have to look into historic and modern non-western astronomies to get an idea that the night sky offers quite multifaceted interpretations).

      However, I’m an archaeologist working on this site for about 10 years. Yes, we have come up with the dates for Göbekli Tepe. Dates which are significantly different from what’s suggested as “date stamp” in the paper. Daters pointing to the end of the Younger Dryas, not its beginning. Assuming such a long tradition of knowledge commemorating an unconfirmed (ancient) cosmic event appears a bit far-fetched to me.

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    • As I recall, Thom didn’t claim to have all the answers but he did claim to have answers for which the evidence was too patchy to constitute a solid, verifiable base. He chose the alignments which suited his case. His argument for a ‘megalithic yard’, for instance, cannot be backed up by sufficient uniformity of measurements in stone circles to be considered acceptable.

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  11. Pingback: Datestamp: World's oldest monument memorializes Younger Dryas comet impact - The Cosmic Tusk

  12. Hello Jens and Robert,
    I have said my peace, so to speak, so it wouldn’t be fair to hijack the main purpose of this posting by Jens.

    Rather, as an archaeoastronomer coming from a professional landscape discipline I found I had insights which I think are worthy of sharing. And this is now after eleven years of study and independent research. Having spoken as indicated, I felt it incumbent on me to put my money where my mouth is to back up my support of the many contributions that I believe archaeoastronomy can contribute to archaeology. So I decided to test the veracity of the basic findings in the paper, i.e. whether the tools used were applied correctly. Obviously this is not the place to go into great detail, but I hope the following might help, particularly to people reading this of a general interest, or even to academics outside of the discipline. Below is my brief report. Since I don’t know if the comments format accommodate images, I have only provided links from which they may be viewed and/or downloaded. I have a pdf version with full formatting, which I can provide on request – presumably via Jens.

    1) Verifying the “vulture” as constellation of Sagittarius:
    1.1. I took the outline of the “vulture”, and created a transparent overlay. I then fitted it to the constellation of Sagittarius, using the constellation lines as in Stellarium (v.0.15.0). I then created another transparent overlay from the result, to superimpose onto screen shots of the Stellarium outputs.

    2) Checking the date claimed:
    2.1. Given the co-ordinates for Sanliurfa, as in Stellarium, I created the outline of the local horizon using the “heywhatsthat” website – creamy coloured horizontal profile in the images below.

    (Ignore the blobs and odd spots – these are stray artefacts once I had completed the majority of the transparency)

    2.2. The Stellarium time of the date was moved forward so that Sagittarius sits on the geometric horizon as shown. This is for easier comparative purposes. It is interesting that the first image shows the Sun virtually on the local horizon, but not horizontally aligned with the centre of the circle symbol (assumed “Sun”). So I fast-forwarded the date a hundred years to get the result in the second image.

    2.3. The presence of the local horizon is not really relevant. There are probably many potential observation locations all enabling a good view of the sky scene at, or close to the horizon at sunset, in the local area.

    2.4. It should be obvious that the constellation couldn’t actually be seen, because it would have been flooded out by sunlight – discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of these notes.

    3) Reinterpreting the “handbags”:
    3.1. The preceding clearly shows that the vulture scene is at summer solstice. In the paper it is suggested that the arcs represent the half-sun on the horizon. Quite possibly, but although I agree with the sequence as argued, I would suggest an alternative interpretation.

    3.2. In the image above there appears to be a hint of a globe sitting on the respective horizons (dashed circles) – represented by the solid blocks, which also represent the seasonal time periods. If this is the case, which needs to be confirmed by the researchers on site, then the “handles” might represent the tracks of the sun at these cardinal times, shorter in winter, lengthening in spring, maximum in summer and then shortening again in autumn. In essence, representing the length of day at these times. If not then we may have a somewhat casual sculptor at work, but despite the general coarseness of the symbols, it does look as if there is a genuine intention to portray accurate (enough) information to decode the meaning.

    4) Prediction, precession, and the “H” symbol:
    4.1. Without wishing to expand here – due to content in draft for publishing – the “H” symbol is clearly the equivalent of that I recognise from my decoding at Stonehenge. I suggest they are markers for a particular point in time of the great cycle of time, which for the sake of argument and astronomical definition here, I shall call the “Great Year”. Few people will fail to equate this with the former “Precession of the Equinoxes” – there are plenty of sites to be found on the web regarding current terminology.

    4.2. If accepted the paper illustrates a time cycle as pertinent to the “date stamp” hypothesis represented on Pillar 43, then from the above, it should equally be reasonable to suggest that this would be further reinforced by the designers’ knowledge of the length of the Great Year. I suggest that on this pillar, it is shown as underlying the annual solar cycle, as the background “field” of cosmological time.

    4.3. The “blocks”, I suggest, represent time periods, just as the larger “handbags”, and they would then quantify that 11 divisions of the Great Year have passed. Consequently, the annual cycle depicted sits in the twelfth division, or between it and the thirteenth. There is a hint of a “block”, judging by the difference in texture, directly above the vulture’s head – again needing to be confirmed or otherwise on site investigation.

    4.4. Prediction: Given that I have correctly interpreted the “H” symbols from Stonehenge, I did a quick calculation – literally, it took me around 15 seconds on my calculator – using the same period of the Great Year deduced at Stonehenge, to the following interpretation,

    i) That the symbology on Pillar 43 represents the coincidence of the summer solstice with an important time of the Great Cycle, and
    ii) That the vulture/sun coupling represents the sun sitting on the horizon at the same time as the constellation of the vulture.

    The calculation returned 10588 BC. At this point my guess, from the above images suggested this would be close to the case. The result is as follows:

    Conclusions:
    1) It seems to me that the Pillar represents, at the very least, a point in time of a great event, one worth all the effort in celebrating, just as we these days get excited about a comparatively minor event (if may suggest!), such as the transit of Venus, a ‘once in a lifetime’ occurrence. Imagine then being around at the time when a conjunction with the Great Cycle occurs, a once in a “civilisation” event!

    2) Whether or not the Pillar “date stamps” a catastrophic event, I don’t know. I can’t from this very brief investigation confirm or dismiss it. The headless body may well suggest that the then culture survived this catastrophe, but also lived on to witness the conjunction of time cycles. It may be that they decided to record this “god” given reprieve for posterity, in the possible event of another catastrophe occurring. It may also be, therefore, that the “handbag” became a symbol of the power of the “gods”, in restoring the life giving power of the Sun. It wouldn’t be surprising then to understand the “handbag” symbol as of cosmological importance, illustrated in various cultures, only able to be wielded by either the gods themselves, or their elite representatives on Earth. The above is of course all speculation and my background knowledge of the site is insufficient to support such, in the context of my other wider background reading.

    Further study:
    From the above I believed, however, that I had a sufficient grasp of the specific relationship of the symbols and pillars subjects of herein, in the context of my Stonehenge studies, to understand their meaning. My interpretation offers an alternative view, without necessarily conflicting with the conclusions of the authors of the paper in question. It would, however, be a significant challenge to questions such as continuity of symbolism across epochs and cultures. I pursued a brief plausibility check, with positive results. I am not prepared to expand this here for the same reason as given in paragraph 4.1, but I may consider a summary confidential disclosure subject to copyright safeguards.

    Richard Bartosz

    28 April, 2017

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    • Richard, I’m sorry to have to say I find your interpretation to be highly self-confirmatory: the reasoning revolves around the fitting of assumed alignments into a pattern, rather than looking objectively at whether the totality of the carvings can realistically fit that pattern. No wish to be derogatory in any way but it seems like you’ve decided this is the way it is without taking the opposite scientific angle of seeing if there’s good enough evidence to actually disprove your theory. And there is. Similarly, you assume, without proof, that the culture that, six and one half thousand years later and 1,500 miles away erected Stonehenge would have followed the same lines of thought and belief. I don’t buy it: with reference to a continued link over the millenia, specialists know, for example, that in the fully developed Neolithic of the 5th and 4th millenium there were considerable variations in monumental construction, suggested variety of belief rather than conformity. Aside from a presumed Bronze Age dagger carving at Stonehenge, I’m also unaware of anything at that site that could be compared to the sculptural cornucopia at Gubekli Tepe. Impressive as Stonehenge is, it simply isn’t in the same league as GT.

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      • Robert,

        With respect, your position to me appears, as the first poster, to be governed by a starting point of dismissal. Fair enough, but at least we have reached a posting position of academic debate. Whether there will be a meeting in the middle, and progress thereafter, remains to be seen. I interpret the purpose of this item by Jens as signalling a rebuttal of the claims in the paper, which will be or have been, formulated in detail and presented to the authors. For me, courtesy dictates this as a prior position to having publicly voiced opinion via this item. Perhaps Jens could confirm. Obviously, it is beyond the scope of this facility for commenting to do any more than highlight issues and evidence.

        Not that academic status is necessarily relevant, and apologies, but I am not aware Robert, of your precise background. It would be helpful to know, but confirmation is entirely up to you.

        My exercise was not self confirmatory. The paper, itself, with statistical analysis presents the framework, but I have indeed taken it further and specifically stated this in “Further Studies”. This stems from the paragraph on “Prediction”, an initial test which returned positive results. It wasn’t a case of “I think this”, rather “Is it possible that?”. Of course I understand the need to consider the “…totality of the carvings…”, but on the other hand you have not indicated what you consider this to be – Pillar 43, Pillar 43+Pillar 18, all the carvings in enclosure D, or all carvings in the site as a totality. The objective, as it stands, with the publishing of this paper, in terms of archaeoastronomy, is to present the arguments for Enclosure D as a starting point. New theoretical models require a step by step approach.

        In terms of not being derogatory, I’m afraid that you have jumped to a conclusion without knowing my scientific background nor the scientific principles I apply to all my investigations. Such is the limited nature of dialogue as possible here. I haven’t presented a theory, I’ve made “suggestions” in the spirit of academic debate, utilising my background knowledge from studies in archaeoastronomy, now totaling 11+years, and having had the privilege of dialogue, ranging from very brief to extended discussions, with scholars, worldwide! Many have willingly provided me with document material, otherwise beyond the affordability of an independent researcher with no academic affiliations. As to evidence to disprove the theory, I think you have jumped the gun, the matter is now in critical debate, and is following, in my opinion, the first step of polarisation of opinion, as one would expect. That is all, it’s a starting point and recognised in blogs such as here:
        http://www.lynnekelly.com.au/2017/04/archaeoastronomy-and-gobekli-tepe/

        As regards the “H” symbols, I stated they were “equivalent” to what I find at Stonehenge, and I never said that carvings were involved. Nevertheless, there are architectural equivalents to be found elsewhere, where perpendicularity is also involved. Here is a link to a paper relating to one such location – note the layout in Fig.2:
        http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/toltecs/Tula.pdf

        As regards “handbags” there is such a wealth of examples, I’ll just give you a starting point. Note the one opened at Teppe Yahya:
        https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=images+of+ancient+reliefs+with+men+holding+bag&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipsfyw-sjTAhVQIlAKHXdSBZ0QsAQIJQ&biw=1429&bih=995#imgrc=0wWbDa-2OwbduM:

        There are several aspects that I do not agree with, but the archaeoastronomical momentum developed in the paper remains, for me, totally valid. This to the extent of, with further investigations penciled, that I am now considering including this as pertinent and relevant content in a future publication. This is based on strong evidence, subject to scrutiny, that I now know exactly what the fox is saying!

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      • This response is indeed meant to express our concern and doubts regarding this study. And yes, a more complex response including much more detailed references was submitted for publication in the same journal in the meantime.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Richard,
      I’m sorry to say you made a big mistake. Using the words of Sherlock Holmes: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
      Returning to the study of the two Edinburgh engineers, I found their method totally unscientific.
      They took for granted the existence of the comet of Clovis without even presenting the opposite theories (usually this is done to not give information to those who do not know the subject and to convince them that the theory is correct), have passed to talking about Gobekli Tepe without even motivating this jump from North America to Turkey, began analyzing the data assuming that on this site there must be a witness to a catastrophic event, they only selected data that could be useful to corroborate their theory, effectively smoothing the complex symbolism of the site and reducing it to an astronomical observatory aimed at studying comets.
      I would like to point out that an astronomical symbolism can be present on the site and that the idea that constructors have also represented constellations using the figures known to them can be acceptable, but it is not necessary to make the mistake of distorting data, absurd connections to make their theory square, or worse, to read the symbolism of the site using only one lens.
      Archaeoastronomy is a fascinating and complex discipline, so much so that we (archaeologists) are very careful to deal with these topics. You can not make connections to constellations this way, seeing what makes you comfortable.
      I also want to point out that the published study is NOT an original study since it was published by Graham Hancock in “Magicians of the Gods” in 2015, a book that obviously was not mentioned at all in the work. This way of behaving is definitely incorrect, not academic, and unprofessional.

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      • emmanuelelazzaratoblog

        Apologies, I missed this post of yours. Unfortunately, as I pointed out to Jens, the “notify” button does not appear to work, and due to other commitments I have had to defer from this blog for a short while.

        With respect, the first part of your comments is poppycock – I have presented no hypotheses, I have only been interested in testing the results presented, I have clearly indicated that I do not necessarily agree with the full contents of the paper which has several and not mutually dependent elements, and my focus is reviewing and presenting new data which might possibly help illustrate and support the interpretation of deliberate astronomical intention behind the carvings. I do this because I am an archaeoastronomer (second “career” in retirement from a profession which included considerable “sky” inputs, and currently in my twelfth year of study and practical research, including direct dialogue with archaeologists on a regular basis), and as a result I have found further evidence which I propose to present but not here. This is clearly not the place for doing so.

        I’m afraid that you make the same mistake as so many, across many disciplines. You cannot have it both ways! You cannot “accept” the possibility of astronomical symbolism, on the one hand and then criticise in the way that you do (hence my opening post) coming from outside of the discipline, on the other. If you make statements such as “…you cannot make connections to constellations this way…” then you must identify precisely how they can be made acceptable to you, as an archaeologist. Note again, I’m referring to astronomy, not the YD theory, etcetera. Perhaps the rebuttal, as indicated by Jens, will cover this aspect.

        Unlike countottoblack’s attack on me which is clearly ad hominem, you, although more polite, are bordering “straw man” argument. I am personally not “comfortable” until the claims made meet scientific scrutiny. Juxtaposing references to Graham Hancock, as the original proposer of the “theory” can be seen as a ploy to categorising the paper as “pseudo-science”, a cloning of Jason Colavito’s sensationalised journalistic – rather than scientific – methodology. However, I don’t recall Graham Hancock complaining anywhere – which would be more pertinent evidence for your claim.

        With respect again, you should know that these kind of attacks are just “water off a duck’s back” to me. Despite not having published formally in any journal, for good reason, if readers here haven’t noticed by now, I am comfortable and content, for the time being, with meeting requests both from archaeoastronomers and archaeologists world wide, for my assistance in archaeoastronomical matters!

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      • Sweatman and Tsikritsis did write an original ‘paper’, or rather science fiction speculation, but taking their cue from a suggestion by Stephany about seasonal beasts on two other pillars. Hancock’s chapter on pillar D43 repeats PD Burley’s science fiction, which also took its cue from Stephany, probably on Tepetelegrams.
        Rhetorical wild geese have come home to roost here.
        See my paper comparing FIVE ‘zodiac’ interpretations, and their flawed dating methods, and the potential value in Stephany’s suggestion, here; https://stoneprint.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/gobekli-tepe-art-is-not-a-zodiac/
        See my paper on the four seasonal beasts on Pictish stones here; https://stoneprintjournal.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/pictish-beasts-zodiac/

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  13. Thanks for your reply, Richard. In fact it is over 40 years since I formally studied archaeology (under Aubrey Burle, the ‘stone circle man’) but his rigorous approach to evidence and conjecture stays with me. Today I am simply a sporting amateur, fascinated, as I was then, by the Neolithic. Gubekli Tepe turns everything on its head and demands a reappraisal of everything hitherto believed about the emergence of the new ways of living and belief in the Holocene. But research can only be credible if it proceeds in a manner that takes into account all evidence, rather than focus on a particular field of study. That is my objection to the interpretation of megalithic alignments and carvings thereon as indications of a sophisticated understanding of astronomical observation millennia ago. And the supposition that people from different continents at very different times (i.e. the example of Toltecs referred to) had similar knowledge and beliefs is simply not, in my opinion, academically acceptable. Anyway, best wishes.

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  14. I find the attitude of some posters on this thread extremely disappointing, hypocritical and irrational. While it’s apparently perfectly OK to criticise Martin Sweatman for ‘stepping outside his discipline’ and accuse him of “cherry picking”, it’s also seemingly acceptable to reference Jason Colavito as a ‘credible’ scientific commentator?

    Hey, what the hell! … Let’s just ignore the findings of the already numerous and steadily-growing number of published peer-reviewed papers on the Younger Dryas Comet hypothesis, produced by respectable tenured scientists at institions ranging from Los Alamos National Laboratories to Amargh Observatory, etc, etc, and turn to Colavito (an author with a Bachelor of Arts) instead! That’s scientific.

    NOT!

    I sincerely hope that team members from the Göbekli Tepe dig will not allow themselves to be drawn any further into alignment with such short-sighted, ill-informed and condascending notions. While those posting comments expressing such attitudes would argue they are being ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’, they are in fact demonstrating nothing more than pre-exsting cognitive biases and attitudes – and a most unscientific and shoddy form of scepticism.

    There is not respectable behaviour in proper scientific discussions, debate and research.

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  15. Jens, may I ask why my post from a few hours ago was removed? I genuinely don’t understand why you’ve found it offensive and taken it down.

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    • We didn’t remove anything but of course need to moderate and approve content. Since we have regular work and private lives, too, this may take some time (in particular on weekends and holidays).

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  16. Jens, please disregard all my former posts that are still awaiting moderation. If you are OK with the following, that is what I’d prefer to have posted on the thread:

    —–

    I find the attitude of some posters on this thread extremely disappointing, hypocritical and somewhat irrational. While they seem to believe it’s perfectly OK to criticise Martin Sweatman for ‘encroaching’ on a subject outside his regular discipline and accuse him of “cherry picking” to support what they view as an offensive hypothesis, they don’t seem to object in any way when Jason Colavito is referenced as a reputable scientific commentator – despite the fact he’s an “author and editor” with a Bachelor of Arts who publishes no peer-reviewed research whatsoever.

    The same critics are also quick to deride the Younger Dryas Comet hypothesis in its entirety – not by arguing from a scientific standpoint, but merely by totally ignoring the findings of the already numerous (and steadily-growing number) of published peer-reviewed papers on the Younger Dryas Comet hypothesis, produced by respectable tenured scientists at institutions ranging from Los Alamos National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, to Northern Arizona University, and more than two dozen others around the world.

    Is that good science? I think not.

    I would sincerely hope that team members from the Göbekli Tepe dig will keep themselves a good distance away from such short-sighted, ill-informed and condescending notions.

    While those posting comments expressing such attitudes would like to believe they are being ‘rational’ and ‘scientific’, they are in fact demonstrating nothing more than pre-existing cognitive biases and attitudes – and a most unscientific and shoddy form of skepticism.

    There is no respectable place for this attitude in proper scientific research, discussion and debate…. even if Martin Sweatman’s hypothesis proves to be incorrect.

    As Carl Sagan once declared: “The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge. And there’s no place for it in the endeavor of science. We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system… and the history of our study of the solar system shows clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources.”

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  17. As an ‘enthusiastic amateur’, with no axe to grind, I looked up the Younger Dryas Comet Hypothesis on Wikipedia. If ever there was a hypothesis in dispute, it’s that one! Aside from anything else, is it likely a comet/s impact event striking north America would have been visible in Anatolia? And if its actual occurrence is in dispute, what liklihood that it should trigger a 1,200 year drop in temperature when the Tunguskan event of 1908 had virtually no climatic effect at all?

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    • Personally I’d even go further, asking: *If* there really was a ‘Younger Dryas Impact’ in northern America and *if* it was visible in Anatolia and observed by prehistoric hunters … why would they commemorate this event 1,000 years later and associate it with a change in climate (keeping in mind that the Younger Dryas seemingly had very local environmental effect with little provable impact in the northern fertile crescent yet) at all?

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      • Jens, I would suggest that as a starting point you simply read this poster presentation, entitled:
        On the Possibility of a Late Pleistocene Extraterrestrial Impact: LA-ICP-MS Analysis of the Black Mat and Usselo Horizon Samples

        http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc2011/pdf/5008.pdf

        The conclusions address the core point of your question:

        1. The distributions of the trace elements in the Lower Younger Dryas Boundary, Black Mat and Usselo Horizon samples point to an event which changed abruptly conditions of sedimentation just before the onset of the Younger Dryas cooling 12.9 ka.
        2. Trace element distributions and relations observed for Lower Younger Dryas Boundary samples may be consistent with incorporation of the material of ET origin shortly before the beginning of the Younger Dryas cooling.
        3. The Black Mat itself was formed by sheer terrestrial processes in response to a climatic change and displays the trace element composition similar to that of
        the ACC.
        4. Impact-related material could be delivered as airborne particles as far west as Western Europe where it could participate in the generation of the Usselo Horizon resulting particularly in elevated PGE concentrations.
        5. The study of PGE distributions across the sediments of the appropriate age could be of the highest priority in further studies of the problem of the possible ET Late Pleistocene impact.

        If you are interested, I can provide links to many far more detailed papers on the subject.

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      • Thanks for the link. Still leaves us with little to no evidence of environmental impact in Western Asia and the huge chronological gap to the actual Neolithic iconography and material culture of Göbekli Tepe pointing to the end rather then onset of the Younger Dryas …

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      • Ah! I didn’t know the impact of the Younger Dryas in the general GT region had been limited. So continuity of habitation (and culture) would have been possible. I’d assumed the hunter/gatherer population would have moved south for the duration.

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      • I would suggest the claim that the Younger Dryas had “little provable impact” on the region is not consistent with numerous published scientific findings. For anyone who is interested, here are just a couple of the many examples:

        The Pleistocene to Holocene Transition and Human Economy in Southwest Asia: The Impact of the Younger Dryas
        http://www.jstor.org/stable/280936

        “Our aim in this paper is to examine new evidence that at least one major episode of cooling, the Younger Dryas, apparently had a profound effect on the environment of southwest Asia, and contributed significantly to the adjustments in human adaptations that resulted in the development of agriculture.”

        And:

        Evidence of Lateglacial and Holocene climatic change and human impact in eastern Anatolia: high-resolution pollen, charcoal, isotopic and geochemical records from the laminated sediments of Lake Van, Turkey ;
        http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1191/0959683603hl653rp

        http://www.academia.edu/23806595/Evidence_of_Lateglacial_and_Holocene_climatic_change_and_human_impact_in_eastern_Anatolia_high-resolution_pollen_charcoal_isotopic_and_geochemical_records_from_the_laminated_sediments_of_Lake_Van_Turkey

        And:

        The Impact of Late Pleistocene—Early Holocene Climatic Changes on Humans in Southwest Asia
        http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4613-1145-4_4

        https://books.google.com.au/books?id=qxwBTKMHl7oC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=younger+dryas+onset+anatolia&source=bl&ots=JthDz-qu85&sig=asjybvaJe5nO-sqMIrRd5pPIhXE&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=younger%20dryas%20onset%20anatolia&f=false

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      • Effects seem to have been locally variable and so is evidence. While a Pleistocene-Holocene boundary indeed may be identified in Turkey, most evidence discussed so far is relating to the Southern Levant, but comparatively sparse in the Taurus region. More recent studies focussing on the Late Natufian are linking a change in subsistence with adaptations to climatic and environmental changes. This is acceptable for the Southern Levant where data is relatively plentiful, but it is less so in Anatolia. The onset of Holocene conditions would not have brought instant and homogeneous environmental change. Rather, different regions would have experienced climate change at different times and in different ways and the record in particular for Braidwood’s ‘hilly flanks’ is still in need of much more research on a more local level with higher resolution before we can really postulate a major shift here which subsequently had relevant impact on socio-cultural developments – caused by YD climate events.

        As you can see we are entering a huge (and still ongoing) research debate here which has seen much discussion and many new studies in recent years. Interesting without a question, but pretty much leaving the focus of this post’s original topic, I’m afraid.

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  18. I would suggest that reading the papers on the subject would offer you a much better insight than anything you’ll find on wikipedia about it.
    A substantial number of the peer-reviewed papers can be found at: https://cometresearchgroup.org/publications/
    The scientists involved are also listed… and there are many, from a significant list of respected institutions.

    If you bother to look at any of these, you’ll also see that the event (theoretically) may have produced impacts in as many as four continents. It was not just a Tunguska-sized event with effects confined to the North American continent.

    The possible global climate effects are also discussed in many of the papers.

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  19. Jens, this picks up on your last reply. See:

    Uncommon and Impact-Suspicious Geologic Phenomena across Jordan and Adjacent Areas, Arabian Plate ; DOI: 10.4236/ojg.2014.412051
    http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=52905

    See section 3 in particular:

    3. Coming and Going Neolithic and Bronze Age Cultures in the Near/Middle East Relating to Rapid Climate Change (RCC)
    If one asks for reasons of RCC, Earth’s orbital and solar activity variations, mega-volcanic outbreaks, and major impacts as well, are the most relevant factors.
    Hoyle [48], a British astrophysicist argued for possible impact events on Earth every 1600 yr by fragments of a repeatedly returning large comet that has been possibly loosing material when passing the Earth’s orbit rela- tively close to the Sun. Thus, consecutive collisions with celestial bodies of our planetary system might have happened on 12,700, 11,100, 9500, 7900, 6300, 4700, 3100 yr B.P.*, etc. see also [34].
    Climate variability during Holocene has been excellently analyzed by some 50 globally distributed records [49]. Significant RCCs occurred through the periods 9000 – 8000, 6000 – 5000, 4200 – 3800, 3500 – 2500, 1200 – 1000, and 650 – 150 yr cal. B.P. All of them underwent polar cooling, wetlands in the Mediterranean, tropical aridity, and major atmospheric circulation changes.
    In addition, Case 1 relates to the Middle/Upper Pleistocene boundary as a hiatus/discordance that separates mid-Pleistocene basalts (Figure 27, [16]) from Upper Pleistocene gravels. If the some 60 kilometers large “Col- lapsed Caldera” (Figure 1, Figure 7) could be verified as a real crater, there would be, because of its size, a very high probability of being an impact crater. Widespread gravel deposits, landslides, “loess-like” sediments, indi- cations on hazardous flooding, and possible triggering of the youngest basaltic volcanism in Northeast Jordan would be relevant around the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary.

    3.1. Case 2
    Atmospheric methane and 18O-data analyzed from Grip ice-cores of Greenland, define the last glaciation period, Younger Dryas (12,700 – 11,500 yr B.P.), as the end of the Pleistocene [50]. It caused ice-covered areas in high latitudes and wetlands of moderate climate in lower latitudes. Two droughts intercalate in the Mediterranean parallel to tropical Africa.
    As Figure 28 shows, the Younger Dryas starts with Hoyle’s “possible” Comet 1-Event and with the end of the Natufian Culture (14C: 14,500 – 12,300 yr B.P.) that appeared in Jordan and Israel as a mixture of semi- no- mads and settled farmers [51]. Excavated implements give evidence on hunting animals and plant food.
    In a pre-agricultural stage, the early ABU HUREYRA CULTURE, Syria (14C, 13,000 – 11,500 yr B.P.) ap- proximately coincides with the Younger Dryas period. Food consisted of wild animals and a broad variety of cereals [52].

    3.2. Case 3
    Around the end of the Younger Dryas, shortly prior to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary, a drought occurred in the Near East that caused a higher salinity in the Red Sea and led to the precipitation of aragonite layers [53] [54]. 14C- and 18O-data indicate an age of 11,600 yr B.P. in average.
    While the early stage of the ABU HUREYRA CULTURE vanished at that time for about 500 yr, the tem- peratures significantly increased continuously during the Pre-Boreal (11,500 – 10,000 yr B.P.) [50].
    Plato (427 – 347 yr B.C.) reported on a Cataclysm-Event in connection with the destruction of “ATLANTIS”, 9000 yr before his time [55] which means the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary.
    Just around 11,000 yr B.P. Hoyle’s Comet 2 re-appeared while the ABU HUREYRA CULTURE re-devel- oped [53] and the early foundation of Jericho started [57].

    I’ll find something even more specific for you on the question of climate impact in Western Asia for you tomorrow. It is now late evening where I am located 🙂

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    • You did quite some work here collecting data and information. Impact of RCC events on prehistoric communities certainly has to be considered when reviewing social and cultural change in the early and middle Holocene. No-one’s going to challenge this, I think. However, we have to be careful not to confuse this with the Younger Dryas discussion (or more precisely: the debate on what caused the Younger Dryas). As I wrote below, this leads way beyond the scope of the topic this blog post originally aimed to discuss.

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      • Jens, with regard to the possible link between a ‘cosmic impact event’ and the onset of the Younger Dryas, you may find this recent paper interesting:

        Widespread platinum anomaly documented at the Younger Dryas onset in North American sedimentary sequences(2017)
        doi:10.1038/srep44031
        https://www.nature.com/articles/srep44031

        Despite the paper’s focus on sediments from North America, it should be remembered that the original series of paper on this proposed cometary event reported data suggesting cometary fragments or ejecta had impacted on at least four continents – including analysis of soil samples from Abu Hureyra in Syria that were said to support the hyopthesis.

        The new paper concludes:
        “This study finds no evidence to contradict the conclusions of Petaev et al.1 that the Greenland Pt enrichment most likely resulted from an extraterrestrial source, whether the Pt originated from the impactor and/or target rocks. In addition, our findings show no contradiction with the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, although detailed evidence for such an impact or airburst is beyond the scope of this paper.

        Our evidence indicates the Pt anomaly is a useful time marker horizon, and the ability to locate this chronostratigraphic marker easily within de-glaciated sediments is a significant finding. This time marker will allow more robust age-depth models and facilitate understanding of the effects of YD climate change on early Paleoindians, flora, and fauna across the Bølling-Allerød/YD transition.”

        Further supporting commentary on the possible astronomical aspects of such a event can be found in this paper:

        Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex; W.M. Napier; Mon Not R Astron Soc (2010) 405 (3): 1901-1906.
        https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16579.x
        https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/405/3/1901/966774/Palaeolithic-extinctions-and-the-Taurid-Complex

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  20. As Jens has stated several times, we are archaeologists, not astronomers. Knowing our field of expertise – and its limits – we absolutely do not want to contribute to questions that have to be tackled by astronomers. But what we can do as scientists is to gain a rough understanding of whether a theory is well founded or not. And it doesn’t take too much to see that the Younger Dryas impact event and possible consequences are highly disputed. You can be sure that we read up on this topic before forming an opinion- that’s just how science works.
    And it is exactly that what I would expect from anybody forming an opinion on a topic from my field of expertise. Unfortunately it seems that archaeology is often regarded a topic open for speculation by anyone. It is not-it’s a science and you need some background to make a valid contribution. What we are criticizing here is that the article by Sweatman and Tsikritsis is missing this background. Why not simply include or at least ask an archaeologist if you are stepping outside your own and inside our discipline? Many erroneous interpretations and outright errors could have been avoided that way. It is not that hard to reach out to us, as you can see.

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  21. I take no issue your position Oliver. I am primarily seeking to address some of the other posts which I believe display an unreasonable –and illogical– contempt for the very idea that something like the hypothesised Younger Dryas Comet scenario (or its related variants) could produce cultural and environmental impacts that may influence subsequent iconography and mythology (in many cultures and on many continents) – and well-established practices such as archaeostronomy.

    I do not find the referencing of wikipedia or Jason Colavito adequate forms of rebuttal given the substantial volume of multi-displinary papers relating to all aspects of this topic.

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    • Gentlemen,

      I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the review and then the comments. I’m a geologist in the Pac NW. Graduated from the University of Washington.

      I seem to have stumbled into a bit of an academic squabble/Donnybrook. When I was at school, early ‘80’s, we read the (I believe ) early information/papers on the Younger Dryas strike papers. I can’t wait to read all the papers that were cited. Thanks very much for that. I’ll have to spend a lot more time at this site. Really interesting stuff!

      Regards

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  22. Hello Jens,
    I understand it’s late where you are, so no rush for the following request!
    Are you able to provide images of all the features on all sides of pillars 33 and 32, or perhaps point me in the direction of where they might be found on the web? I’m having difficulty, and my frustration forces me to ask of your time, knowing how busy you must be – indeed all of us in our different ways.

    As regards the YD event, I do not see this argument as being mutually dependent on that of the astronomical symbology claimed, or vice versa. One step at a time! The key starting point in the Sweatman/Tsikritsis paper is archaeoastronomy. The archaeoastronomy discipline uses powerful tools created by exceptionally committed – and gifted – people, and these are continually tested against scientific principles of both use and analysis of results. Therefore, I see the focus as being scrutiny firstly, as to whether the astronomical symbology is valid and secondly, whether the “date stamp” is accurate. Both can be done without too much difficulty, and I have gone a long way, except for the stumbling block of the information requested.

    The YD issue is clearly the one which, unfortunately, sensationalises the paper. It’s a matter which may never be able to be answered, unless a record of that is discovered, which is highly unlikely. As to the suggestion that the people of Gobekli Tepe had a special interest in the Taurid meteor stream, leading also to the suggestion that this is the prime mover of the YD, is also open to strong questioning. That there appears to be evidence of knowledge/observation of meteor streams is one thing, but to jump from that to connecting with catastrophism, is clearly another. Again, one step at a time.

    Clearly, we all need to wait to see what the details of the rebuttal submitted, as indicated by Jens, are. This will provide many more hooks on which to investigate and respond.

    With respect, I think that arguments such as whether an investigator is stepping into another discipline is a diversion. One just needs to look at the nature of interpretations within a discipline, and in archaeology in the context of prehistory this has been and continues to be aggressively argued. For example the work of archaeologist Euan MacKie, and the “astronomer priest” topic, then look at what is being discovered at the Ness of Brodgar. He admits that he is regarded as being “fringe” in his own discipline, and that places many others in the bracket of “lunatic fringe”. Very sad.

    Prehistory, is a subject which requires multidisciplinary input, and interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration. New ideas, however they enter the arena of debate, should be embraced and dealt with according to scientific principles. And, indeed, “archaeoastronomy” as often looked at as a technical subject has itself embraced multidisciplinary principles, hence being modified by recognised need to “astronomy in culture”.

    https://journals.equinoxpub.com/index.php/JSA

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    • We have to beg your understanding that we can’t answer particular individual picture request, but we are currently preparing a detailed monographic overview of all monumental pillars, their iconography, situation etc. As soon as this book is ready, it will be announced here for sure. Thanks for understanding.

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      • Thanks for the note Jens. I understand, but I’m equally certain that there will be many a request like mine to come in the future. Even this comprehensive site does not fulfill the needs of many an independent researcher:
        http://www.stonesofstonehenge.org.uk/
        Archaeoastronomy tools offer facilities for doing scientifically based research remotely, but progress is often hampered by lack of material. Anywhere within the UK is theoretically accessible to researchers like myself, and mostly material is forthcoming from networks of contacts. But a visit to Gobekli Tepe is unlikely for me, and of course I am outside of specific networks for the site. Perhaps things might change!

        PS: Even though I tick the email notification box, I have not yet received any notices during the course of this dialogue. Is there a registration and approval process before this facility is activated?

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  23. I’m puzzled why this ludicrous supposition is being debated at all. Different cultures interpret constellations very differently indeed, apart from the few that really do look like something obvious. For instance, Cygnus has been assumed by many unconnected cultures to represent a bird, though which way it’s supposed to be flying depends on whether those people happened to be more familiar with birds with long necks or long tails.

    Orion, on the other hand, was assumed to be special by just about every nation or tribe because that belt of three stars is the most meaningful-looking stellar pattern in the entire sky, but nobody agreed about how large the constellation was or what it was supposed to represent. For example, the Chinese consider the three stars in the belt to be the entire constellation, and since they don’t believe the other four prominent stars in our interpretation of the pattern are the knees and shoulders of a hunter firing a bow, they don’t see the “belt” as a belt at all, therefore they haven’t noticed that a vaguely linear scattering of faint stars next to it is Orion’s richly decorated scabbard.

    Quite apart from that, is there any proof whatsoever that the carvings on Pillar 43 (or any other pillars) represent constellations at all, never mind which ones? The least sane poster thus far tried to match the vulture with Sagittarius, and made a very poor job of it, but the match would have been considerably worse if Richard hadn’t ignored almost all of the vulture’s torso, its legs, and those parts of it that aren’t visible in the photo at the top of the page because something that looks like a ruined wall is in the way. Using similar logic, I could probably make it fit any constellation whatsoever equally well, or indeed a map of the London Underground, though I can’t be bothered to try.

    But my main point is that, even if we assume this structure has something to do with astronomy, which in itself is debatable, why do the carvings necessarily have to represent constellations? If the builders considered certain stars to be important, the entire site could be a kind of graphic novel recounting the lives of the gods associated with those particular pinpoints of light, in which case none of the imagery needs to be a map of the night sky at all.

    Let’s do a little thought experiment based purely on that photo up there of Pillar 43. Ancient cultures, including very sophisticated ones, sometimes attached arbitrary significance to rather unpleasant creatures for downright Surreal reasons. For instance, the Egyptians thought that, because the Sun is round and rolls across the sky, the humble dung-beetle, the only creature which habitually rolls perfectly spherical objects for long distances (for an extremely pragmatic reason of course, but one that seems to have been unknown to the Ancient Egyptians), must be the earthly representation of the mighty Celestial Scarab, therefore it was sacred in a way that all other insects weren’t. It helped that scarab beetles were inoffensive creatures incapable of doing humans any harm at all. Though unfortunately they didn’t take the idea to its illogical extreme and declare the Sun to be a gigantic white-hot jobbie done every morning out of the Ultimate Cosmic Bottom which is the source of all things. I wish they had. Tutankhamen’s Curse would have had a much better punchline.

    Anyway, let’s look at those carvings. Just about all ancient and most modern cultures pictorially place good things above bad things. The lower part of the pillar very prominently displays a scorpion which the sculptor has taken a great deal of trouble over, therefore the motif for the bottom half is primarily “lethally venomous arachnid”, which has to be bad! The carvings on the left are partially obscured by that crumbly lump of rock, but I’m seeing the paws and jaws of something wolflike, and a spiky tail which may or may not belong to the same beast. It’s not looking good! The perfunctory and partially effaced carving of a headless man with a stiffy is ambiguous, since male potency would seem to be a very positive indication of ongoing life. Then again, is not having a head ever a good thing? I suggest that this rather small carving is predominantly negative, since “having a hard-on” is a much less striking and unusual concept than “still being sexually active despite being decapitated”. In any case, the much larger and more carefully depicted lugubrious duck next to it obviously matters more. And it’s anybody’s guess what that’s supposed to mean.

    Moving on to the upper part of the picture, obviously distinct from and apparently menaced by that underworld scorpion, we see a clearly identifiable vulture. Since the top half of the image ought, by my conjecture, to represent something good, what, you may ask, is good about vultures? Quite a lot, actually. The Parsee practice “sky burial” whereby their dead are eaten by vultures to avoid contaminating the elements. Many Native American tribes similarly exposed their dead on platforms, inviting them to be eaten by vultures or buzzards, because in a hot climate, any natural mechanism which makes a rotting corpse go away quickly is much more positive than negative, so long as you don’t have to watch.

    Look at that picture. What’s that on the right of the vulture? It looks to me a lot like a newly-hatched vulture chick. Mummy or Daddy Vulture holds out his/her wing below a Sun-like and/or egg-like object (either way, a symbol of life) while a new young one takes its first breath, and directly below, a toxic myriapod impotently rages. The ugly but necessary vultures are the psychopomps in the ugly but necessary process of death, and when they’ve done their disgusting work, life begins anew and death is ultimately frustrated. I don’t claim to be an archaeologist, but I defy anyone on this planet to say that my interpretation of this carving is less plausible than claiming it pictorially represents an apocalyptic meteorite impact just because it includes a vulture, a scorpion, and a round thing.

    I rest my case.

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  24. Pingback: Of animals and a headless man. Göbekli Tepe, Pillar 43 | The Tepe Telegrams

  25. Ah. counttoblack. I’m sure you don’t even realise it, but you’ve inadvertantly raised a good point. Who ever said the constructions at Göbekli Tepe only served one function?

    Who’s to say they weren’t an astronomical observatory, calandar, ritual center, cultural attractor and feasting hall all in one? (Plus who knows what else?)

    At this point, I think it’s fair to say nobody yet knows.

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  26. Pingback: Scientists Think These Ancient Carvings Depict an Apocalyptic Comet Impact | Geeks District

  27. Countottoblack:
    Quote: “Quite apart from that, is there any proof whatsoever that the carvings on Pillar 43 (or any other pillars) represent constellations at all, never mind which ones?”

    Please get the sequence right. The paper presents evidence that this pillar may be interpreted as astronomical, for scholarly consideration. It does not claim to provide proof. Absence of prior proof is not proof of future absence! You mention Cygnus. Andrew Collins interprets the symbol as Cygnus, i.e. a bird.

    Quote: “The least sane poster thus far tried to match the vulture with Sagittarius, and made a very poor job of it”

    Re-scaled, the symbol fits very well with the modern “teapot” interpretation, as found in Stellarium, and arguably, precisely with alternative line depictions of Sagittarius. The important relationship is the relative position of the claimed Sun below the beak. For example select Sagittarius from the drop down box here:

    http://www.heavens-above.com/constellation.aspx?lat=0&lng=0&loc=Unspecified&alt=0&tz=UCT

    Select Cygnus, and you will be able to compare bird interpretations. So asterisms/constellations symbolised by variations of the bird theme are perfectly credible.

    As regards “sanity” I would suggest that only a member of the Flat Earth Society would argue with the intention behind my comparison. Unfortunately, I can’t see that the rest of your contribution adds anything material or pertinent to dealing with the astronomical interpretation, which is my priority, clearly indicated. With respect, I would suggest that, indeed, you should give the manner of presenting your arguments a rest, until you’ve had a chance to review it!

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  28. Supplement to response to Countottoblack – currently subject to moderation:
    Vulture overlay on Sagittarrius depiction at Heavens Above website:
    [img]https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4176/34467117225_cc4aaba316_z.jpg[/img]

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  29. Thanks a lot for your input and comments to this blog post. We appreciate and of course understand the large interest in this discussion in particular, but really get the impression all relevant points have been exchanged and the debate somehow has reached a point there everyone is just ‘treading water’. Maybe it would be a good idea to step back for a moment and take a deep breath.

    Meanwhile we submitted a more detailed response (including further points and detailed references backing our critique on this particular interpretation) to the journal which published the original study and we hope it will be considered for publication in due time, too. This then probably would be a better and more useful basis to continue this discussion. Thanks.

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  31. Further supporting commentary on the possible astronomical aspects of such a event can be found in this paper:
    Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex; W.M. Napier; Mon Not R Astron Soc (2010) 405 (3): 1901-1906. .

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  33. Well… although this just-published paper does nothing to prove that Göbekli Tepe has anything to do with ‘ancient cosmic catastrophes’, it certainly adds weight to the notion that such things may have possibly happened in the past – and may indeed happen again:

    Discovery of a new branch of the Taurid meteoroid stream as a real source of potentially hazardous bodies:
    DOI: http://doi.org.secure.sci-hub.bz/10.1051/0004-6361/201730787
    http://www.aanda.org.secure.sci-hub.bz/component/article?access=doi&doi=10.1051/0004-6361/201730787
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.08633

    I do sincerely hope the so-called ‘skeptics’ who’ve been doing the podcast/media rounds to publicly embarrass themsleves in recent weeks (by revealing their obvious ignorance of the science on this subject) stop and actually look at the science before resorting to ridicule and maliciousness again. Although they claim to be upholding the principles of science, it would appear to me that they are in fact doing exactly the opposite.

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      • Jens:
        Well actually they do. It’s just that there doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for incorporating cultural cosmology matters as an interdisciplinary contributor for Gobekli Tepe interpretation. Elsewhere there is positive and constructive exchange, such as at TAG 2016

        http://www.southampton.ac.uk/tag2016/sessionsabstracts/session29.page

        This is the list presentations and videos available (note the title of the final discussion):
        SESSION 29. VISUALISING SKYSCAPES: MATERIAL FORMS OF CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT WITH THE HEAVENS (Tuesday, 20th Dec., Room 1143)
        Fabio Silva, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Liz Henty, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
        12:00 – 12:10 Introduction
        12:10 – 12:30 Visualizing Skyscapes: GIS-based 3D modelling and astronomical simulation, Georg Zotti, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, Vienna, Austria
        12.30 – 12.40 Reflecting the sky in water: a phenomenological exploration, Ilaria Cristofaro, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

        12:40 – 13.00 Toads turning time: verifying visualizations of the Sanctuary, Lionel Sims, Emeritus, University of East London

        13.00 – 14.00 Lunch Break
        14.00 – 14.20 Skyscape Archaeology: Where are we now? Liz Henty, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
        14.20 – 14.40 Time pursued by a Bear: Ursa Major and stellar time-telling in the Paduan Salone, Darrelyn Gunzburg, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

        14.40 – 15.00 Moon Monitoring Politics, Suzanne Villeneuve, University of Toronto and Simon Fraser University and Julian Henao, Simon Fraser University
        15.00 – 15.20 A diachronic study of mid-Holocene skyscapes in southern England and Wales: preliminary results, Pamela Armstrong, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

        15.20 – 15.40 Skyscape Exploration: From Material Site to Apparent Non-Site and Back Again, Daniel Brown, Nottingham Trent University

        15.40 – 16.00 Tea Break
        16.00 – 16.20 The Solar Discourse of the Welsh Cistercians, Bernadette Brady; Darrelyn Gunzburg and Fabio Silva, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

        16.20 – 16.40 ‘Three stones in his belt’… astronomical imagery in myth and ritual sites, John Grigsby, University of Bournemouth

        16.40 – 17.00 Early Bronze Age deep postholes alignments in Linsmeau pointing towards astronomical events, Frédéric Heller, Service Public de Wallonie, Belgium and Georg Zotti, LBI ArchPro, Vienna, Austria

        17.00 – 17.20 Discussion: Archaeologists versus archaeoastronomers or new best buddies?

        The problem here is that the astronomical interpretation, supported by the statistical analysis – which of course needs evaluating independently – has been hijacked by the “straw man” of Graham Hancock’s publications, and particularly the subject of catastrophism.

        I note that rebuttals/evaluations received by the Journal publishers have been allocated space under “Matters Arising” in the next issue, although there is no indication of publishing date:
        http://www.maajournal.com/Issues2017b.php

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  34. Here’s another paper which may give some reason to reconsider the possibility that links between certain asterisms and their associated iconology could have been preserved across cultures and time… for far greater periods than we might otherwise think ‘logical’.

    The paper is entitled ‘Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia’ ; PNAS-2013-Pagel-8471-6
    http://www.pnas.org/content/110/21/8471.full

    Abstract
    “The search for ever deeper relationships among the World’s languages is bedeviled by the fact that most words evolve too rapidly to preserve evidence of their ancestry beyond 5,000 to 9,000 y. On the other hand, quantitative modeling indicates that some “ultraconserved” words exist that might be used to find evidence for deep linguistic relationships beyond that time barrier. Here we use a statistical model, which takes into account the frequency with which words are used in common everyday speech, to predict the existence of a set of such highly conserved words among seven language families of Eurasia postulated to form a linguistic superfamily that evolved from a common ancestor around 15,000 y ago. We derive a dated phylogenetic tree of this proposed superfamily with a time-depth of ∼14,450 y, implying that some frequently used words have been retained in related forms since the end of the last ice age. Words used more than once per 1,000 in everyday speech were 7- to 10-times more likely to show deep ancestry on this tree. Our results suggest a remarkable fidelity in the transmission of some words and give theoretical justification to the search for features of language that might be preserved across wide spans of time and geography.”

    These may seem like a left-field thing to bring into the discussion, but “if” there were ‘ultraconserved words’ so widely spread from some original ice age ancestral language, and “if” there were early holocene ‘cosmic impact events’ that caused widespread loss of life, devastation across numerous contients and severe climate change, should we really be so surprised to find such things reflected in the iconography of some ancient sites?

    Surely it’s worthing considering and investigating with some dilligence before dismissing the notion out of hand.

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    • Zipf had decades ago reported structural constants in language, relevant to all languages. A 2016 study noted that words with similar meanings tend to sound vaguely similar. Chomsky had decades ago reported that all languages are structurally identical, though allowing a thick layer of arbitrary features (which I demonstrated in Mindprint 2014, and in Stoneprint 2016, to be part of our compulsion for styling, one of the peer pressure mechanisms that enable us to use intangible resources such as culture, to appropriate hard resources).
      The paradigm of conscious diffusion is part of our hard wired repertoire. It is generally true (thus not an ideal field for science) that we learn things from one another. But it also camouflages archetype, which nature and culture perpetually re-express, and which thus sustains recurrent features such as sounds, concepts, and meaning itself.
      See my forthcoming paper on semiotics. See some extracts from Stoneprint at https://stoneprint.wordpress.com/

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  35. . ”
    Further supporting commentary on the possible astronomical aspects of such a event can be found in this paper:
    Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex; W.M. Napier; Mon Not R Astron Soc (2010) 405 (3): 1901-1906.

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  36. Pillar 18 shows a disk and crescent symbol below an H symbol. The disk and crescent symbol could be a link to astronomy or astral religion (worship of sun and moon or other celestial bodies). If the symbol does indeed represent sun and moon we can assume that the movement of these bodies was observed by priests to get a meaning their regular movements. Methodical observation of all recognizable bodies would be a plausible supposition.

    The symbol has survived without any alteration for a stunning 7000 years into the Babylonian period. It has many descendants in form of similar symbols throughout history some surviving into the present. Content and import of the symbol may have changed over time and nothing can be said about religious or ritual context at the time of Göbekli Tepe.

    Is anybody doing work on the disk and crescent symbol and can anybody point me to a source?

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    • Of course we did notice that peculiar (and actually recurring) symbolism and carefully considered it in our interpretation. The crescent moon in this shape is not unusual and could have been, yes still could be observed in the area. So, yes – it would be quite natural to assume a link to actual practical observation of celestial phenomena. However, due to the lack of written sources we may never be sure of the true meaning of these symbols and such a long continuity as suggested for instance to the Babylonian period are interesting of course, but also completely lacking final proof unfortunately.

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    • Sorry for the late response but I just happened upon your question.

      I use ancient depicted sign language upon which I base the meaning of the Circle and Crescent.

      While many ancient depictions may have an astronomical meaning ( because the cosmology involved both the earth and the sky) it seems unlikely in the case of these particular signs. The Crescent is the gesture sign for, held (as in a bowl) and its Double Lines indicate, unseen. The Circle Form with a smaller Circle Form within it is the gesture sign for, the center. The fact that the center circle is also a depression indicates, a hole. These signs or various combination of these signs are found in many ancient cultures world wide. The ancient cosmology perceived “water-holes” or spring sites as portals between the underworld and the sky. The ancients saw the pools of water as where the spirits of their deceased were held in the water until the Sun (via evaporation) drew up the water, and the spirits within the water, to the sky. Such water sites became centers for a variety of cultures, at first just natural sites, but later, as populations grew, became imposing structures yet still based on the underlying nature based cosmology.

      The “H” sign represents two vertical place signs, on the Left and on the Right. In gesture signing the Left indicates the East and all other directions were determined from that. Thus, the vertical-place, in the east, and, in the west. These places were viewed as connected and in this case, connected by an Oval sign that means, everything, Double lined, unseen,. The Oval is positionally, at the center. It is not coincidental that the Hands were positioned next to the place signs. Thus, The Hands, The Hands of the Sun, the steward of the Sun, positionally, on the sides, of the vertical-places (places of height and depth). This is a reference to a kind of “Sun-priest” whose spirit was viewed as on the eastern and western sides of the earth. There are reasons to believe that the Hand of the Sun and another common depiction of a Great Eye, the Great Eye of Sun were metaphors for Venus and its appearance in the east and western skies.

      If you desire drawings of the historically documented gesture signs for the Crescent and the other signs you may send me an email at: cliff_richey@yahoo.com.

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  37. Pingback: What you get is … what you want to see: For example Göbekli Tepe on a 4th millennium seal print from Susa. | The Tepe Telegrams

  38. Today is the Asteroid Day, and for the sake of it I would post a comment here.
    I’ve been informed that MAA journal is no longer accepting papers on Gobekli Tepe, for this article made so much reaction, so I’ll put a few points of interest not yet mentioned here.

    1. The software that was used is erroneous in that time range. The Sun has latitude of 2 degrees (same is true for the software used by Richard in the pictures above), even though it should by definition of ecliptic as the path of the Sun be zero. That puts into question the reliability of the software to display constellations correctly too.

    Regarding this, I ask if anyone can answer correctly a simple question: when was the summer solstice on 10,950 BC. On what day and time of June ?

    2. Proponents of the impact theory cling on to the Taurid Stream as the source of the impacting comet. In that stream there is one active comet (Encke), and 19 dormant chunks. When comets split in Shoemaker-Levy 9 style, they always split in exactly 20 or 21 chunks. See Richardson D.C., Bottke W. F. Jr, Love S. G., Tidal Distortion and Disruption of Earth-Crossing Asteroids (1998), ICARUS 134, pp. 47-76 paper for the details of the splitting process. This means that there are no missing large chunks in this particular stream, so it is not the source of the Younger Dryas impactor. Some other Centaur must have been.

    3. The Fox paper authors erroneously corrected BP into BC years. The Petaev’ BP 12,900 date corresponds to 10,950 BC. Check
    Petaev, M. I., Huang, S., Jacobsen, S. B. and Zindler, A. (2013) Large Pt anomaly in the Greenland ice core points to a cataclysm at the onset of Younger Dryas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 110, iss. 32, 12917-12920. for the dating of the Younger Dryas Boundary impact.

    4. When a comet splits, the chunks and particles would move away from each other, forming a line called a string of pearls. If they move away with just 1 m/s that would in a decade become 1 lunar distance of a separation. Considering this, there can never be such a thing as a cometary shower of many chunks, as proposed by Firestone. Of dust, yes, but of chunks large to penetrate to the ground, no.

    Summary of the impact debate:
    a. The proponents of the impact found numerous irrefutable microscopic evidence that there was an impact, somehow linked with the Younger Dryas and the Pleistocene-Holocene extinction.
    b. They failed to find any crater, which means that they also can only speculate about the progenitor, about the energy of the impact, of its effects, ot the orbit of the impactor, of it composition and nature, of the chain of events, about the magnitude of the whole event, basically about everything.
    c. Yet, if there was an impact large enough to cause the extinction of giant rabbits among other species, then surely the people who survived to tell the tale would leave some records of what happened. Myths, legends, religions, topography names, monuments, all sorts of everything. Being so close to the time of event (like we are to the invasion of Huns to Europe), one can rightfully expect the Göbekli Tepe pillars to be such a record.

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  39. Casual Visitor:
    The software is as correct as can be, taking account of the many variables involved, and as correct as any other software for the purposes of an investigation such as this. The Sun is shown referenced to J2000. At J2000 the ecliptic is referenced as 0-degrees. The actual path at the date is as shown by the line – “ecliptic of date”, as in the images. This is a little in excess of +1.5 degrees from J2000.

    The software displays positions of the stars accurately, taking into account individual star variables, such as proper motions. Constellations are a human construct, not astronomical – there is no such thing as “correct” display, either by grouping or artistic depiction. This is entirely a cultural matter.

    Calendars are also human constructs. “Summer solstice” is the day on, or handful of days around, which the Sun is at its highest altitude at local noon (or greatest positive declination from the celestial equator, being the projection of the Earth’s equator onto the celestial sphere). This is identified correctly in the images. I suggest you don’t try to play games with people by asking trick questions. I suggest you give the answer yourself and let others decide whether you are playing games or not as I have indicated.

    A calendar converter (just one of several) can be found here, https://calendarhome.com/calculate/convert-a-date/

    BP “Before Present” in a radiocarbon dating context means “before 1950”.

    As far as my comments are concerned, I am only interested in looking into the question of astronomical interpretation, not dating a catastrophic event, whether or not one existed at around that time. Personally, I believe this to have been a mistake on the part of the authors. Astronomical interpretation should stand as a matter in its own right. The paper mixes issues, sensationalised by the media, and has therefore opened the door to straw-man arguments. Observing sky phenomena such as comet appearances, is a perfectly legitimate activity on the part of all cultures in all epochs, and recording of such in some form is equally to be expected. Tying the hypothesised “date stamp”, in the first instance to a catastrophic event, instead of treating it as a perfectly legitimate possibility as an astronomical record indicating knowledge of astronomical cycles, whether or not in connection with observing comets, is an error in scientific process, in my opinion. So people pursuing a course of scientific investigation or comment, like myself, are dismissed in the tsunami of unjustified criticism which follows the sensationalised aspects.

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    • JPL and other ephemeris were *not* calculated down to GT time.

      I asked the question of when the equinox was, not because I wanted to play games, but because I honestly don’t know. Well, not as as accurately as I wish to know. I don’t have software that can make such computations. The one that I have gives June 18, with the same error in ecliptic of 1.5-2 degrees. I am certain that this is an error. For some reason, this is important in this case. Basically, the errors of the software are not your fault, because nobody programmed the software to be accurate for so early periods because there were no known records on which the ephemeris could have been meaningfully applied. GT changes that.

      I made the observation on sun vs ecliptic because this is really an outstanding error, and because Sweatman and Tsikritis said in their paper that they knew no reason to question the software that they were using. I give you the reason to question it.

      On your pictures above, the circle from GT is on the ecliptic, as it should be (presumably the ecliptic of date, not the J2000, which would be meaningless to draw), but the Sun is clearly erroneously calculated, for it is outside the ecliptic.

      One can also argue about which of the several algorithms for calculation of the ecliptic of date is a valid one. They all differ slightly. In your case, one can observe that the ecliptic drawn does not go through the centre of the circle, which perhaps means that it is not a good algorithm. It is not indicated which algorithm was used, so I cannot tell if it is a correct one or not, though in this case I think that I know which one is the best one.

      You (and them) just assumed that the software applied proper motions and other needed math correctly, but none of you ever checked that, nor supplied enough data for others to check. Freeware software is often buggy. For instance, sometimes people forget to add the cos(declination) to their transforms of stellar proper motion, which does not show until one goes far away from present.

      ‘BP’ refers to before July 1, 1950, 12:00 UT. They did not use this value.

      That said, I still agree with some conclusions of Sweatman & Tsikritis: namely that the circle on the Pillar 43 can be interpreted as the Sun on a sky chart, that refers to the year 10,950 BC, and that that is the year of the YDB impact event. The rest is, as even them said, purely speculative, including whether there are other possible interpretations for the images and which one or ones are valid, or intended one or ones.

      I also tried to point out later in my comment that unless one knows what happened during the YDB event, one can not tell which legend, monument, or even an archetype refers, or does not refer to it. GT is as close to that event as we are to the invasion of Huns.

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      • Sweatman and Tsikritsis are entirely entitled to say that they knew of no reason to question the accuracy of Stellarium, but needn’t have said it in the first place, because i) the limitations are clearly explained in the user guides, from which I will show the relevant extracts below, and ii) the nature of their investigation falls well within the boundaries of what Stellarium can achieve. They authors stated the time span accuracy to which their study related to.

        Whereas, I thought that you started with a useful point requiring clarification for the general reader, and appeared to show – and you continue to do so – that you are experienced enough with the technicalities of such software, then to ask the question about calendars and precise date/time was irrelevant, in my opinion. All I could infer was a potentially misleading intention, using unfair issues, which a general reader has little hope of judging material importance or not. The authors of the paper would have had their methodology scrutinised – very foolish if they did not do so – and the point of my check was to test the accuracy, which I posted so that the general reader would be satisfied with accuracy as presented.

        To clarify further, I use the Julian Day to plug in to the calendar converters. In this case, in Stellarium, it is -2278175.803449, and this returns the Julian date (month and day) of September 11th, but the Gregorian year of -10950, as compared to -10951 Julian year. The respective Gregorian date for the solstice is June 19th (I note you said “equinox”, but I take that as a simple slip on your part – I frustratingly do that frequently myself!). Is this a glitch in the way the algorithms work? Perhaps, but of absolutely no consequence in this context. Going back this far I work to an error margin of +/- 200 years never mind one! Equally, anyone who uses Stellarium can get a “feel” for the way the algorithms work by cycling the individual years back and forth from the -10950 year. It will be noticed that from any starting point the position, of say a constellation pattern (in this case say Sagittarius), shifts marginally each year and returns to the starting point every four years.

        As to your claim that the Sun is erroneously calculated, this is not true at all, which as I said that, bearing in mind your apparent knowledge, you could easily have checked yourself and not muddied the water here for the general reader. Here are the extracts from the guide relevant to the ecliptic and stellar issues:

        >>Stellarium originally was developed to present a beautiful simulation of the night sky, mostly to understand what is visible in the sky when you leave your house, i.e., for present times. To save computation time, some concessions were made in astronomical accuracy by using simplified models which seemed acceptable at that time. However, many users started to overstress Stellarium’s capabilities to simulate the historical sky of many centuries in the past, and found inconsistencies. Unfortunately, celestial motions are indeed more complicated than a simple clockwork, and the process of retrofitting detailed and accurate models which started around V0.11 is not completed yet. Therefore, when using Stellarium for scientific work like eclipse simulation to illustrate records found in Cuneiform tablets, always also use some other reference to compare. You can of course contact us if you are willing and able to help improving Stellarium’s accuracy!

        E.1 Planetary Positions
        Stellarium uses the VSOP87 [9] theory1 to calculate the positions of the planets over time. VSOP87 is an analytical ephemeris modeled to match the numerical integration run DE200 from NASA JPL. Its use is recommended for the years -4000. . . +8000. You can observe the sun leaving the “ecliptic of date” and running on the “ecliptic J2000” outside this date range. This is obviously a mathematical trick to keep continuity. Still, positions may be somewhat useful outside this range, but don’t expect anything reliable 50,000 years in the past! The optionally usable JPL DE431 delivers planet positions strictly for -13000. . . +17000 only, and nothing outside. Outside of this range, positions from VSOP87 will be shown again. As far as Stellarium is concerned, the user should bear in mind the following properties of the VSOP87 method. Accuracy values here are positional as observed from Earth.

        16.6 Proper Motion
        Proper motion is the change in the position of a star over time as a result of its motion through space relative to the Sun. It does not include the apparent shift in position of star due to annular parallax. The star exhibiting the greatest proper motion is Barnard’s Star which moves more than ten seconds of arc per year.

        If you want to simulate the effect of proper motion with Stellarium, put the map into equatorial view mode, switch off ground and cardinal marks, and set some high time lapse speed. You will see a few stars change their locations quite soon, those are usually stars in our galactic neighbourhood.

        Note however some limitations:
        1. Stellarium will stop at +/-100.000 years. This limit may be still suitable for the stellar
        locations. The planetary locations are not trustworthy outside of a much closer temporal
        window (see section E). You cannot simulate the sky over the dinosaurs or such things.
        2. Proper motion is only modelled by the linear components. True 3D motion in space requires more computation, which would slow down the program.
        3. Double stars are listed in catalogs as two individual stars with their current proper motion. They may be seen flying apart, which is of course not realistic.<<

        Perhaps some questions remain, but if the details in the paper are not accepted then the proper way to deal with the issue is for formal scrutiny, which could be instigated by the archaeologists of the Gobekli Tepe team, or simply requested to be provided as technical support, by way of an appendix to the paper.

        In the end the issue to be followed up is whether there is astronomical integrity within the symbolism in Enclosure D, and I've expressed my views on the process that should be followed to achieve an answer. Of course this will be limited to this point in time, but with so much more excavation, and no doubt very interesting results to look forward to.

        As regards protocol, I have obviously investigated the authors' and Journal's credentials and, from a personal point of view, am satisfied that they should be highly respected. Having said this I consider that the only valid documents to have had published as "Matters Arising" are the rebuttal and the authors' reply. I think it was wrong to have added Paul Burley's presentation. With respect to him, I don't see his contribution as a "critical analysis". It misses far too much, and reads to me as an attempt to reinforce his previous publications/articles elsewhere. His diagrams exclude important detail, such as one of the "H" or "I" symbols and is therefore, very selective in my opinion. From a scientific point of view, I view any other contribution allied to alternative published theories as unacceptable at this stage. Once the proper process has been implemented, only then will there be a basis for taking the matter further, and perhaps a comparative study of alternative theories might prove useful, although such is unlikely to come from academia.

        Until such time there is a danger of the scientific purpose of this fine facility provided here, albeit detail aimed at a wide audience, descending into "debunking nonsense". Leave that to the likes of Jason Colavito – but don't get me wrong, I actually think that many of the sources of information that he points to are very useful, but as far as academic authority is concerned for use in support of critical analyses……and particularly the quality of some of the follow up comments….is just a joke to me!

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      • Richard, thank you for a detailed reply.

        Regarding solstice vs equinox, you are correct. It was 5 AM when I wrote my comment.

        Regarding accuracy, the details do not affect the conclusions of the fox paper (they have 10,950 BC +/- 250 years, whereas the Petaev paper has 10,950 BC +/- 3 years. Yet, neither the old JPL, nor VSOP87, nor Swiss, nor Moshier ephemeris went that far into the past. I was yet not aware of JPL 431. You said that it is only an option, one that should then be used in this case.

        The manual that you extracted just confirms that there is an error in sun’s position. Not just refering to J2000 ecliptic, but a real, small error. How do I know that ? Well, my software (based on out-of-applicable range Moshier ephemeris says June 18, your says June 19, but the real value should be June 20, or so I currently think, based on the rate of change of solstice occurrence within the past 6,000 years, deducted from within the applicable range of JPL ephemeris, and then extended further to the past.

        By the way, VSOP87 was made before so many massive KBOs were found in the meanwhile, which all have their pulls on everything, so on a long range dates it really isn’t applicable any longer. One should use JPL, wherever possible if precision is of the essence, for they are more up to date with discoveries.

        In this particular analysis, the important thing are the positions of stars. I don’t use Stellarium, so I can’t check whether that software calculates the positions correctly. What I need as a useful information are the coordinates of at least one northern star, referring to the ecliptic of date (in 10,950 BC), and the precession formula by which the ecliptic of date was calculated (Vondrak 2011, Bretagnon 2003, … Newcomb). Common mistake that occurs all too often is that cos (declination) is not applied to proper motions in latitude, which then gets odd for far northern stars, quite problematic if it occurs in this context. (Not claiming that it does, just saying that there are non-negligible chances that this particular bug is present.)

        To summarize for the general reader, regarding the YD impact, the fox paper does not add new details, but it points to Pillar 43 a having a wide time stamp of that event of which details remain unresolved, and many symbols on that pillar were not mentioned at all.

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      • Meanwhile, I checked the JPL’s DE431 ephemeris. There are a lot of stated caveats and no estimates of accuracy for the long past were given.

        The intention seems to be to cover correctly the historical observations over the past few centuries and for the future. They cater for the needs of NASA, not of historians. For instance the DE 431 ephemeris were based on simplified IAU 1976 precession formula which is only applicable for the past two centuries. In my opinion thus, the question of ephemeris accuracy at this point remains unresolved.

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      • Ref. Casual Visitor- DE431:
        I hadn’t used this because it (together with DE430) makes for a large memory archive, not to mention download time. Not the least also because of their purpose. Nevertheless, since my Starry Night Pro returns a solstice of September 8 (proleptic Julian, translating to proleptic Gregorian – 16 June, ), I decided to download to compare.

        The result is that DE431 overrides Stellarium’s default and places the Sun on its “ecliptic-of-date”, making it a touch easier to observe, and quantify, positional changes. With respect to my diagrams in previous posts here, I needed only to shift one day to place the Sun wholly within the “solar disc” of the sculpture, making for a putative solstice date of September 10th (Gregorian June 18th ) instead of the 11th (Gregorian June 19th). However, DE431 also returns September 8 for the solstice, measured by date of maximum altitude (or declination) at the southern meridian. I note you mentioned June 20th, so we have a spread of four days (16th – 20th). All these fall within the margins presented by the vulture/sun disc.

        I note your comments about “age”. With respect, I think that you are overstating the issues. I drive a 17-year old diesel car, now “condemned” for environmental reasons and lack of many other “modern” features (although it was advanced for its period, and I’ve had no trouble with the engine, now at 231,000 + miles). it gets me from A to B, and that’s all that matters to me. The only way to resolve your concerns is to query the experts themselves. As far as accuracy of the range of software available Victor Reijs has reported on this at, http://www.iol.ie/~geniet/eng/skyprog.htm, and as regards Stellarium itself, you might wish to contact Georg Zotti, or install the software yourself and raise issues via the support system. Indeed, the software – as all those available – are under constant development and I’m sure that the authors of this one would be more than pleased, if you have the appropriate expertise, to receive technical comment and contribution.

        It seems to me that the more you talk around these issues, the more it becomes clear that GT is more than unique enough to argue that all archaeological interpretations are equally as speculative and the written record cannot be successfully extrapolated back in time. In this respect, as I’ve stated, there is the issue of “astronomical integrity” of the symbolism within Enclosure D to be thoroughly investigated – before the unfortunate media “sensationalising” as has happened with the YD issue. To this end, I have been investigating this aspect further and will present the results in due course in a more appropriate place.

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      • Richard, I updated the ephemeris myself. I changed to Swiss ephemeris, which are based on DE431, but are compacted and require only 2 Mb of download per 600 years. The result is that the solstice time is, surprisingly, ***June 17, 10,950, 4:43 UT***.

        If an older precession formula (Bretagnon 2003) is used, the solstice is June 18, but the Sun still had a considerable latitude of 10-15 arc minutes.

        A switch to Vondrak 2011 precession formula, drops the error of Sun’s latitude on the ecliptic of date to below 1′ of arc in my computation, and yields the stated date of early June 17, which I now consider correct, with the remaining error of several time minutes, due to uncertainties in tidal acceleration (delta t). It turns out that we were all wrong more or less. I am glad that this issue is now cleared.

        The software that I use, I wrote myself. I was unaware of the upgrade in ephemeris span, and I thank you again for pointing this to me.

        I remind you that the GT itself is written record. It does not have to be extrapolated, just deciphered. I agree with you that this is not a proper place to discuss the symbolism within Enclosure D, and I too have my own awaiting-to-be-published analysis on what does it says.

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      • Casual Visitor:
        >>I remind you that the GT itself is written record. It does not have to be extrapolated, just deciphered. I agree with you that this is not a proper place to discuss the symbolism within Enclosure D, and I too have my own awaiting-to-be-published analysis on what does it says.<<

        Indeed, the very argument I use in dialogue with many, including archaeologists, so forgive me for deflecting the "you" away from me, to the general audience, particularly those who can't – or won't – budge beyond the written record!

        As regards technical expertise, I also have to defer to yours which sound more than detailed for my research purposes, but which probably have a good degree of overlap with whatever yours might be. I found that the mathematical side was simply taking up too much of my time, and now in retirement and entirely self taught in my twelfth year, I felt I wished to concentrate on archaeoastronomical principles. Consequently, I turned to "tools" available that would do the "accuracy" job for me, and to this end I started with Skyglobe – which for all its failings did a good job in helping put mental visualisation onto a screen – and I now use a combination of Skymap Pro 8, Starry Night Pro and Stellarium.

        Going back as far as GT challenges us, this brief conversation with you has helped me refocus on technical issues, but I can't see myself concentrating on this for long. It seems, however, that it might be useful if you could produce an error table, at say 250-year intervals which people like me could apply to our studies outside of the usual 4000 BC – or thereabout – acceptable time span backwards. This could be used, with appropriate caution, until such time as the various "tools" available are updated.

        As regards publishing, I am not affiliated to any educational establishment and so output targets are limited. It would be interesting to know more of your area of activity, particularly if it is professional or amateur, and where the outcome of your investigation might be found published, in due course?

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      • Richard,
        The question of errors I will investigate in the coming days. I hope that by the end of the month I would sort this issue. at present it appears that usage of DE431 based ephemeris is sufficiently good. One has to be careful that each ephemeris is compiled to refer to some specific precession formula. The DE431 based Swiss ephemeris use Vondrak precession, JPL DE 431 itself used IAU 1976, and so on. To test if it is all good, basically one should look at Sun: if it has a latitude larger then 1 minute, then you are using a wrong precession formula for that ephemeris. It is of course possible to use different precession formulae with the same ephemeris, but that requires usage of correct transformations by the software. Sun’s latitude is always a good sign of errors.

        Another good sign are distances of planets from the Sun, for they are supposed to be fairly constant. For instance, when I forcefully extend the range of Moshier ephemeris from he intended 3,000 BC to 10,950 BC, Uranus and Pluto ‘left the solar system’ by distance. This is a clear sign that the defined spans should be respected. Only Moshier’s Moon, defined to 22 ka BC, was still valid.

        Regarding publishing, and other personal questions, I unfortunately cannot answer any such questions in a public blog, where I use a pseudo name to remain anonymous. Perhaps if we can exchange e-mail addresses somehow, we could continue this conversation more privately ? For instance, I could use help of someone whose native language is English.

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      • Casual Visitor:
        You can find me at academia.edu – there doesn’t appear to be anyone else with my surname, as it is usually a christian name. My surname is as in some of the images I posted early on in this discussion. Why this happened I do not know, but my ancestry is Austrian/Polish. I was born in “Bavaria” – for the sake of not going into detail here – but my parents emigrated to England when I was still very young, and the rest is history, as the saying goes! I haven’t published anything there as yet, although I have several drafts, each in various stages of completion. There are many reasons for why this remains the case!

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    • My searches failed. The founder of academia.edu is ‘Richard’, and of course there are many of other Richards. Bartosz is also a popular family name, and Googling that again leads to gazillion hits. Perhaps, if you fill a ‘website’ in this reply form, I could follow the link supplied…

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      • I assumed you were registered with academia.edu, and that you would search from within, after login!

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      • Casual Visitor:
        >>wrong assumption<<
        Indeed! But with a claimed 53,475,624 "academics", it was a good bet. On the other hand ResearchGate, with 13 million (including 63 Nobel Laureates) I cannot join, despite having two very well known scholars willing to support my application – in the early days. I was rejected, but things have positively moved on, and currently one can't even get past the first step if the application does not recognise an institutional email address. Not that it bothers me in the slightest – I won't use the urban dictionary ('milder') version – and much of it involves elitist codswallop, in my opinion. I haven't yet failed to get hold of any research paper available there, by other means, and I guess that anything I wished to have published there would have been looked upon with equal disdain!

        Anyway, off topic, and I assume that your expertise regarding the technicalities discussed, deserves dialogue with expertise greater than mine – sincerely meant. I'll keep an eye open for any commentary that might materialise in the future – particularly if you publish, publicly, your "errors" investigation.

        Best wishes.

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  40. I responded to the Sweatman and Tsikritsis paper, by comparing five different ‘astronomical’ interpretations of pillar D43, against the standard subconscious structure in the artwork. There are no zodiacs at Gobekli thus far. But a few constellations may lurk on two other pillars, perhaps the four seasonal beasts, as Stephany had pointed out earlier. Four subconscious archetypes among the usual sixteen, break through into conscious symbolism in all cultures. They slowly change, and fluctuate during transitional epochs. On D43 and H56, and in the subconscious placement of pillars in the four large excavated houses, they indicate Age Gemini-Taurus. However astronomy automation could not confirm that epoch, due to inherent errors in the assumed Newcombe curve of obliquity, invalidating current assumptions about precession.
    Sweatman’s dating is laughable, and his wild geese circular arguments are embarrassing. The other four ‘zodiacs’ and their dating methods are insecure and improbable.
    My paper is here; https://stoneprint.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/gobekli-tepe-art-is-not-a-zodiac/

    Like

    • It is clear now that on this formerly “closed” commentary, further comments are being allowed (after moderation?) but only those that support the “it’s all nonsense” club, which is what this and other threads by Jens and Oliver have become. I have made several “replies” and none have appeared, whereas those made after me continue to do so.

      Here, Casual Visitor has made comment on a former post of mine, and I consider I have a right of reply. But this is being denied.

      Gentlemen, this is becoming a joke for me, and you call yourselves “scientists”! More like spoilt children and what appears to now be a bigger agenda of forced denial in the background. Echoes of Thomas Kuhn.

      Mr Furter – “paper”?, a rather overdone promotion for your book, methinks – $80, hmm! Necessary to counter alternative (better) theories, just as Andrew Collins had to do when “Sagittarius” challenged “Cygnus”. Too many inaccuracies to even bother with, and no replies is the evidence – clearly the intention, rather than any true scientific commentary. Long lists of references do not fool the critical eye. Indeed, the differing early interpretations stem from a lack of archaeoastronomical veracity – and of course archaeological interpretations never involve any conflict of opinion, particularly concerning sites of unique interest as is Gobekli Tepe!

      But there is more to come, and it will bite all the harder. Sweatman and Tsikritsis have cut too close to the bone for liking in higher circles – that is clear!

      Jens, I’m disappointed. Filtering like this has a habit of backfiring on those who engage in it – beware. It seems that the only way to reply is to copy all the content here and do it elsewhere, in parallel.

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      • Dear Richard,
        A few points I would want to make regarding your comment(s):
        1. As Jens has also pointed out, we are doing this blog in our spare time. It is possible that going through the comments takes some time. After 60+ comments Jens asked for a break because no new arguments came up. We have however allowed further comments, including yours, as everyone can see.
        2. We reserve the right to delete comments. This will happen when (a) they are insulting to us or others, (b) they are clearly only provocative and make no point regarding the respective post.
        3. Yes, we really are ‘scientists’. That’s why we try to keep the discussions ‘sine ira et studio’. See points 2 and 4.
        4. As you have demonstrated here again, your tone is far from ok. I would ask you to think about the aims you are pursuing with your comments. If you want a discussion with us and others, please keep calm. If you just want to offend us or other people, then yes, your comments will be deleted. And, just for your information, all content of this blog is copyrighted.
        Best regards,
        Oliver

        [P.S. You may not be aware of the fact that comments which contain more than two links are automatically considered spam by WordPress. We go through the spam folder regularly, but not every day.]

        Like

      • Oliver already said it: this blog is an *offer*. Something we’re doing in our free time – after already pretty busy work days in office or field.

        Yes, we’ve got a private life and families, too. Yes, we have to moderare comments since we’re held responsible for content. Any content. Yes, this sometimes needs time. If your comment arrives on a Sunday morning, I’d still take the time to have breakfast with my family before reading and approving (or not) what’s gathered on the blog over night.

        You’re absolutely free to like this – or not. You’re absolutely free to read this – or not. Again: this here is an offer. We’re doing this since we somehow are dedicated to our work and we thought this might be a good way to keep those informed who have an interest in this kind of research without having time or access to see the more academic publications.

        I’m sorry that you’re disappointed, but as you can see we do not ‘censor’ or ‘suppress’ useful or constructive content.

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      • Just as an afterthought on my previous comment you might be willing to consider:
        Disagreement is an integral part of the scientific process. It’s what makes science go further. Disagreeing with a theory you propose means not disagreeing with you as a person. Whether in talks or papers, I have disagreed with other archaeologists many times. And drunk many beers with them afterwards. Scientific dispute is only personal, if you let it become personal. And if you do that too often, you have good chances to drop out of academia. So, expressing our opinion, may it be positive or negative, is an integral part of what we are doing everyday – science. You may or may not be accustomed to this form of dispute, but it really is not directed at you as a person. And it would be great if you could also refrain from personal attacks.

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      • Richard, my book costs $30. Perhaps the italic font is hard to read. I did not so much counter any theories, but compared five contradicting proto-astronomy theories, and countered the paradigm that leads engineers with automation software from a few hazy alignments, and a few hazy visual similarities, to various planispheres, an assumed cult, and laughable dating.
        I would welcome some indication of the supposed inaccuracies you found among the many that I describe in detail in the work of the rash of archaeo astronomy theorists.

        We agree that the “differing early interpretations stem from a lack of archaeoastronomical veracity.” I do not expect that inter-disciplinary playing field to mature soon.
        Your assessment that Sweatman and Tsikritsis “bite hard” and “cut close to the bone” is contradicted by nearly all the astronomers and archaeologists on this site, and on MAA where they published their landmark case of lack of veracity. The lowest point in pseudo-scientific archaeo astrononomy, on par with the lower common denominator of populist theorising.

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    • Your paper is interesting. It mentions some peculiar details that I was not aware of, so I’ll put a short comment on it here, regarding some aspects of the problem that I think you might not be aware of.

      1. Shamans do not really have subconsciousness. The whole art of being a shaman consists of being able to consciously travel into what is normally perceived as subconsciousness and bring useful information on return. That means that the images on the pillars of GT, are not just some subconscious art, but *consciously* drawn messages in form of art. That is, if the GT was built by shamans as their ritual centre.

      2. The YDB event was so traumatic for the planet (the greatest extinction event after the demise of dinosaurs), that a large set of archetypes *originate* from that event. Everyone, including the proponents of the impact hypothesis, seems to consistently underestimate the magnitude of the event required to exterminate a species of giant rabbits among other species. They hide below the ground, which is the safest place to be in case of an impact, multiply like rabbits (because they are rabbits), and yet they are gone.

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  41. Pingback: More than a vulture: A response to Sweatman and Tsikritsis. | The Tepe Telegrams

  42. Dear Oliver and Jens,
    1) There is no doubt that much of what has been presented in the many articles within this facility, as you say done on a voluntary basis – or “an offer”, as you put it – is greatly welcomed and appreciated by many, including myself. It’s largely scientific integrity is particularly welcomed, and although not a unique facility it is however uncommon coming directly from practitioners working directly with the subject matter. I would point out that, whereas, you have decided on a model of prior moderation, and that since this is the second time you have defended the delay in this same item, then perhaps the model needs reviewing. I would be the last to say that your reasons are unreasonable, but equally I would say that the presentation of this item does not fall into the same category as others (see ‘3’ below), where it is clear that your private lives and time are respected. But it needs to be remembered that contributors also have private lives, and sometimes when comments are coming thick and fast then delays can be equally as frustrating when it is considered that important points need to be made, while the “iron is hot”, so to speak, when other personal commitments may intervene.

    2) As regards “tone”, I’m afraid that early posts were directed at people and organistions quite unfairly, and use of words such as “parachuting in”, “insane”, and making derogatory remarks appeared, which have not been “moderated” out. My whole professional working life has involved interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary liaison, cooperation and collaboration, so there are principles of protocol and behaviour that I consider particularly important to uphold. If I see behaviour of ad hominem, straw-man argument and scientific inaccuracy used to question an argument unfairly, then I hit back hard, but always fairly. I particularly,like Oliver’s comment about “drinking beers afterwards”, and you should know therefore, and many people will attest to that, that I carry out my online conversations in the spirit of a conversation in an English pub. There is, however – where individuals are unknown to each other on a personal basis – much “reading between the lines” that goes on – perhaps too much – and hard argument is too frequently misinterpreted as inappropriate “tone”.

    3) I believe the reason for this, almost inevitable, outcome here is that you have taken a matter which should have remained in the professional domain, far to prematurely into the voluntary domain of your otherwise very helpful outreach facility. It is also in a different category because you have led the item with arguments which you had not even given the authors of the paper in question, time to respond to. You may consider this appropriate, but I would say that taking such a course also comes with responsibilities. Firstly, scientific integrity requires that doors are not closed to future generations of researchers. It may be that students with whom you are involved may, therefore, feel hindered in expressing views which conflict yours. Your opinions or conclusions – for example, even if you present what you consider as strong evidence – may, nonetheless, be wrong. Or they may be working in tandem with the alternative interpretations. Secondly, being faced with such alternative interpretation should trigger scientific cooperation and collaboration in an effort to extract the appropriate evidence. There is a dense air of conflict surrounding this issue which needs to be dispersed.

    4) It is irrelevant, from a scientific point of view, whether the authors consulted or not with you – that’s politics, not science! I would suggest that at the very least in this debate, that archaeology should cooperate with archaeoastronomy to evaluate if there really is evidence of “astronomical integrity” in the symbolism in Enclosure D, as a test research project. One way of expressing such scientific willingness is to release all the images, and, indeed, complete the photographic record if not yet done, for Enclosure D, to an appropriate interdisciplinary team. I made a request, but it was refused, with reasons. It is perfectly within your right to make such a judgement – I have not complained about it – but scientific integrity, in my opinion, dictates that you should now take a positive and constructive road to build bridges with whomever you do consider as appropriate to take the task forward.

    5) Finally, referring back to my own professional background, I would say that “parachuting in”, perhaps now that it has been expressed here, may have been the way some of my contributions to discussions were perceived – although never put to me verbally in that way. Many of the issues were largely of lesser importance. A few, however, did involve issues of national policy, strategy and implementation. So I should point out that on one particular social come scientific event, it was very welcome to have whispered in one’s ear, from a person operating at a level far above any that I thought myself capable of ever achieving, the comment “As a result of what you did, the ripples spread far and wide”.

    I think I should take my leave, and leave with you the choice of how far and wide you would like the ripples of the challenge presented here to spread. I will, nevertheless, continue to look in and read with much interest many articles to be found, and yet to come, at The Tepe Telegrams.

    Sincere good wishes to you both.

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  43. In this respect, as I’ve stated, there is the issue of “astronomical integrity” of the symbolism within Enclosure D to be thoroughly investigated – before the unfortunate media “sensationalising” as has happened with the YD issue. .

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  44. Dear Edmund Furter,

    I note your comment dated 01 December 2017, after many months of inactivity. What exactly inspired this?

    I have moved on since the last post dated 29 July 2017 (by “arsenios”), to consider the issue of “astronomical integrity”, not art and architecture, however interesting your book may be. I have continued on this theme at the latest article presented by Jens titled: “Making headlines: Was Göbekli Tepe built by Aboriginal Australians?”. This has been triggered by chance, while I was having a periodical “look in”, to the interesting range of perspectives offered here at The Tepe Telegrams.

    Mr Furter, I am a 68-year old retired professional, and have dealt with far worse derogatory remarks, in various technical and political scenarios, than any thus far presented here. I’m therefore not concerned about your continued ill-advised language, and you actually do yourself no favours by repeatedly referring to others’ expertise in such a way. Nor am I concerned with the opinion of archaeologists “…here…”, when they dismiss astronomical arguments without evidence, employ similar language, and make statements without justification. So, please tell me who “…all the astronomers…on this site…” are, such that you know “…nearly all of them…” (rhetorical, don’t waste my time, because you don’t know who they are)

    If, by any remote chance you actually do know these individuals, I suggest that you alert said astronomers to this new article thread, and encourage them to contribute their scholarly comments there. I will respond as appropriate, but the purpose is to give all a chance to look at what is basically an extended abstract prior to publication of hypothesis and supporting evidence. You may then add this to your, “they are all wrong, and I’m the only one that’s right” promotion of your book.

    It is an experiment, on my part, to see if the ad hominem attacks – so frequently used to “support” so called reactive scientific arguments, but are really reactions to resistance to entertain paradigm shift (read Thomas Khun) – can be diverted to courteous exchange of debate on a scientific basis.

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  45. Richard, you make some assumptions above. I cite Thomas Khun in my book. I responded to your comment on my citations. Your “citical eye” should have noticed that Sweatman and Tsikritsis cite no primary or secondary sources that directly support their methods. Their methods are novel and arbitrary. You are engaging in academic politics instead of demonstrating why you support their unfortunate paper.

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  46. I respond to you for same reason that I responded to Sweatman and Tsikritsis; in an attempt to demonstrate that inter-disciplinary approaches come in scientific, popular, and craftic (esoteric) versions, and that archaeo astronomy should not be written off on account of one very bad cloned apple.
    The Gobekli team had allowed or tolerated Timothy Stephany, perhaps unofficially sticking their toe into trans-disciplinary waters. Their polite semi-official response to Sweatman probably represents nearly all archaeologists and astronomers involved in this site, and in MAA journal. I am very disappointed by the effects of the inevitable repulsion that relevant scientists now feel towards what MAA had raised to the level of legitimate or representative or publishable practitioners of archaeo astronomy.
    I am even more disappointed by the various effects of the Sweatman saga on popular culture, and esoteric crafts. Gobekli iconography is tainted. I feel tainted by association with archaeo astronomy, through no fault of the builders, the digging team, iconography, astronomy, or automation software.
    Pseudo science is harmless in populist genres, but dressed up as science, they muddy the water of popular science, and deepen the divide between sciences, and between sciences and crafts. As in the saga of the initial Sitchen books, before the publisher correctly classified them as novels.

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    • Instead of name calling and yelling, I did a more detailed follow-up research on the Fox paper. When someone presents a paper in a scientific journal, one cannot refute it by name calling but by doing a follow-up study with ‘better resolution’ than what they achieved and publishing the results in a peer reviewed journal too. If their paper states that the Vulture points to the YD event, but with a huge 250 years error margin, then a follow-up study that reduces the error margin to 0 years resolves this issue. It turned out that, if the Vulture is a group of stars, as Richard showed, and if the circle represents the sun, then the year in question is that of the Laacher See eruption. Period. 0 years of error margin was achieved (paper still in preparation).

      Their second claim that the images represent the modern constellations, the matching achieved based on few stars only, was refuted too, based on much larger resolution, and higher probabilities of a match than they achieved. The images do represent groups of stars, all of them, but not those of modern constellations.

      The way to refute my claims, or again those from the Fox paper, would be for someone to do a bulk sweep-search of skyscapes across the ages, with pattern recognition software, looking for GT images on pictures, using at least as extreme precision in matching as I did (or at least as poor as the authors of the Fox paper did), not name calling. That is a huge task, however.

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    • Dear Edmond Furtinger,

      Yes, I visited the link. It is very rich in topics, but shallow in details. I presume the details are in your book. I found some interesting stuff there that I intend to examine closer.

      I agree with you that there are no zodiacs at GT. The images are mnemonics of stories which over 2 millenia of their influence from GT to the surrounding areas became so built-in into cultures of Middle East, that one can indeed consider them as having archetypal status at present. Yet, nobody invents an archetype. The images refer to stories, and the fact that those images can be seen in stars means that one does not have to go to GT to remember them, but can refresh their memory on any clear night.

      I have to correct you on one point: you are misinterpreting Dodwell, because his curve is valid only for dates after the 2345 BC. For earlier dates the current formula is valid. According to Dodwell’s data, in the year of 2345 BC, a sudden tilt of ecliptic obliquity by ~2.5 degrees occurred, which then gradually diminished by 1850 AD. His archaeoastronomy observations (as a mathematician and a royal astronomer) at present have a status of an unexplained phenomenon. For dates before 2345 BC, including the YD event and GT times, one should use Vondrak precession formula as the most accurate at present, which also calculates the obliquity of the ecliptic. However, Delta-T formulas were derived by the analysis of ancient eclipses, the timing of which is affected by the Dodwell shift, and are consequently erroneous if Dodwell was right. The errors are on the order of 1.5 days, depending on which formula is used (at YD & GT epochs). I took that into account, which is one of the reasons on why my calculations are two orders of magnitude more precise than theirs. They used public software, I coded mine one myself.

      Anyway, I wish if you could add captions to the images on your site, so that one knows what they are presenting.

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  47. Dear Causal Visitor, regarding the Dodwell curve or obliquity. I find the captions visible next to all my illustrations, just left of the illustrations and text, in one of the standard WordPress formats, I think the template is named ‘2012’. Kindly advise by which access you find the captions to be omitted?
    Here is my caption to the Dodwell curve: “Figure 7. Earth obliquity on a horizontal scale of 200 years per column, and a vertical scale of degrees and 5 minutes of arc per row; from ancient, medieval and historic monumental orientations and observation records (Dodwell 2010). The earliest, isolated value (lower left notation) of a Karnak midsummer sunset of BC 2045, may have been dated too early (Rohl 2007), at 25 degrees 10’, and may be an error of interpretation. The seven earliest orientations average at 24 degrees 2’, thus the curve may be shallower, and the ‘bump’ was about BC 10 000, not BC 3000. The shallow curve on top is Stockwell’s and Newcombe’s assumption, apparently supported by recent European data.”
    Yes, Dodwell’s curve traces obliquity from BC 2345, but would it not invalidate the current formula for earlier dates? Thank you for advising me of the Vondrak precession formula, which seems to confirm that obliquity is a factor.

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  48. Dear Casual Visitor, regarding archetypes. We agree that no zodiacs were found at Gobekli Tepe, as in the title of my paper. Yet a zodiac could be found there, since Gobekli culture had the full repertoire of culture, including tools, trade, architecture, buttons, art, myth, and probably crafts such as ritual and calendar.
    The images may illustrate stories, yet art has its lexicon and ‘grammar’, as my research indicates. Similarities between different media are too easily ascribed to illustration, and assumed to be secondary.
    We agree that nobody invents an archetype. I doubt that Gobekli was in use for ‘two millennia’, and if so, it should not be seen as “influence” on contributing populations. No amount of diffusion becomes “built into cultures”, since all are equally archetypal. Only styling is diffused from leading cultures to client cultures. But styling is inherently meaningless, as language differences are, just intuitive mechanisms of peer pressure and exploitation. The same visual core content (the detail is in my book Mindprint, and in my book Stoneprint), and even similar styling mutations, such as relief, and interlocking outlines, appear not only in Sumerian and Egyptian ‘culture’, but worldwide (interlock was highly developed in Mexico).
    Thus archetypes do not develop, or diffuse, towards a ‘status’. They are already fully expressed in Ice Age cave art. There are several demonstrations in Mindprint (2016). And see a small but dense rock engraving newly found after a new natural opening revealed Berriruata cave in the Basque area of Spain (included in Furter, E. 2016. Colonial artists re-style the same characters. Expression 14, Atelier Etno). The main difference between cultures is population number, which enabled more media, technology, specialisation and repetition at Gobekli Tepe.
    Regarding constellations, they offer a gestalt canvas of character, time and place to all cultures. Thank you for the reminder that “one does not have to go to Gobekli Tepe to remember them.” Nor to learn them, or conceive of them. Thank you for your relevant challenges and comments.

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