Response to Rebecca Bradley at 'The Lateral Truth' regarding Gobekli Tepe and the Fox paper by Sweatman and Tsikritsis

Recently, my 'Fox' paper with Dimitrios Tsikritsis received some criticism from Rebecca Bradley, an author of fiction and a PhD archaeologist. You can find her rather dogmatic review on her 'Lateral Truth' blog. I respond to her comments below.

Image: The horse figurine of Vogelherd Cave, courtesy of Juraj Liptak, copyright of MUT.

I thank Rebecca for her comments. I am grateful for the chance to explain some more details of our paper, particularly as there appear to be some widespread misunderstandings, among many in the archaeological community at least.

First, I would like to point out that many of Rebecca’s comments are based on opinion, unsupported by any evidence. Quite often she treats her opinions, which seem to be commonplace in the archaeological community, as facts. They are not.

Second, a common misunderstanding is that Rebecca assumes the animal symbols at Gobekli Tepe (GT) are only ever used as star maps. This is not the case. Instead, they are symbols, representing constellations, that can be used flexibly to convey different ideas. Yes, sometimes they are used together to represent a map of the sky. At other times, they are used to represent a date using precession of the equinoxes, and at other times they are used to represent the track of the radiant of a meteor stream. Other uses might come to light with further excavations. As they are symbols that can be used flexibly, they can be thought of as an early kind of proto-script. So, for example, one tall bird can have the same meaning as a group of tall birds: Pisces. There is no reason to assume otherwise.

Third, our decoding of the animal symbols at GT is essentially proven by the publication of our latest paper on Palaeolithic cave art.

To aid clarity, I have reproduced Rebecca’s comments verbatim. My response to specific comments appear in italics below. Rebacca’s text is unaltered.

Does Gobekli Tepe encode advanced astronomical knowledge, and validate the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis along the way? I’ve discussed the context, archaeology, and general alterno claims about the site in previous posts. Now it’s time to look to the stars.

Ancient peoples no doubt observed the stars, navigated by them, observed how they changed from season to season. They no doubt engaged in the very human game of pareidolia, saw patterns in the sky, made up stories about them—patterns and stories that differed demonstrably from culture area to culture area, a testament to the fertile human imagination.

This is not something we address in the Fox paper, but nonetheless it is worth responding to. Here, you are demonstrating a closed mind already, which is preventing you from considering the relevant possibilities. This is unscientific. You will need to explain to scholars like Michael Witzel, Harvard Professor of Sanskrit, why he is wrong to suggest most of the world’s mythologies are very strongly related. You will also need to explain to scholars of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) why they are wrong to propose a proto-PIE mythology existed. Indeed, proto-PIE culture is generally accepted by the archaeological community. I could list several other examples. In summary, your opinion that the stories ‘differed demonstrably from culture area to culture area’ is not supportable, and contradicts entire fields of research. It is also completely illogical. Given that people and ideas migrate and diffuse across the landscape, and that parent cultures can produce or influence several daughter cultures that, superficially at least, might appear unrelated, it makes sense to compare neighbouring cultures for deeper similarities to see if a common ancestor or influencing culture can be determined. The evidence for this view is all around us – our current global multi-cultural world originated from an initiating culture in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago (according to the ‘Out of Africa’ theory). This is the basis for comparative mythology and comparative linguistics, among other disciplines. It follows that the further back in time we go, the larger the geographical area over which cultures, superficially unrelated, might have a common ancestor culture. How far back in time can we go? Well, European Palaeolithic cave art is essentially unchanged over 25,000 years up to the Holocene period. Our recent work shows, beyond any doubt, this art encodes complex astronomical thought, which in turn probably represents an astronomical mythology. Over such a long timescale, a common astronomical mythology could easily have diffused across the entire world, as Witzel finds. Therefore, in principle, it is logical to look for commonalities between all the world’s cultures, no matter how far they are separated temporally or geographically.

This does not mean that sky-lore was built into every ancient monument, nor that it dominated ancient religious thought, nor that their techniques of observation were particularly sophisticated; and yet, finding astronomical orientations in ancient monuments, and building towers of speculation on top of them, is a cottage industry among archaeological alternos.

Perhaps not every monument and every culture is dominated by sky-lore. I agree, this is too universal a statement. But given my comment above, it is sensible to enquire whether a specific monument or mythology is dominated by sky-lore or not. It would be unscientific to rule this out.

Predictably, Gobekli Tepe is the subject of several conflicting astronomical claims involving the orientation of the great enclosures and the profusion of animals and other symbols on the T-shaped pillars. Pillar 43 from Enclosure D, the so-called “Vulture Stone,” receives special attention, particularly the scorpion, the vulture with outstretched wings, and the circle above one of the vulture’s wings. The central assumption of all this is that the animals pictured were constellations and other heavenly features, as opposed to—say—animals. Here are a few examples.

Magli focusses on Sirius: the orientations of Enclosures B, C, and D track its rising through the 9th and 10th centuries BC. The circle being delicately lifted by one of the vulture’s wings may represent the heliacal rising of Sirius a few days before the summer solstice.

I agree, this is pure speculation, unsupported by any statistical (i.e. scientific) arguments.

Collins and Hale: the vulture is both Cygnus (with the vulture’s eye marking the bright star Deneb) and a superconstellation embracing Cygnus, Aquila, and Lyra (with Deneb hitting somewhere on the bird’s beak). The circle is the north celestial pole, the “turning point of the heavens.” The overall interpretation involves ushering the deceased soul into the realm of the dead, which at least makes reasonable cultural sense.

I agree, this is pure speculation, unsupported by any statistical arguments.

Timothy Stephany: the vulture is Pegasus with a dash of Andromeda and some lesser stars. The “huts” at the top form a backbone, signifying the Milky Way; the scorpion does not correspond to a constellation, but takes in some stars of Aquarius. The circle also does not match anything in particular, so may be a supernova or full moon. He does go on (and on) to include all the iconography at GT, but does not tie his “neolithic constellations” into modern ones, which is rather refreshing. He simply fiddles with the GT reliefs until they sorta kinda match a bit of the night sky.

Again, I agree, pure speculation.

Clearly, there is diversity of opinion among those who see astronomical significance in Gobekli Tepe’s structures, and a certain amount of subjectivity in matching the “constellations.” ( I note that nobody seems very interested in the planets, the “wandering stars,” though they loom large in later astrologies). But two engineers at Edinburgh University, Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis, claim to blow all those other astronomical speculations right out of the water.

Correct, our work is completely different because it is based on a statistical estimate of the chance we are wrong. This is how science works. We propose a hypothesis and then test it statistically. We address this very point in our rebuttal to Notroff et al.. That you even compare our work to the preceding cases speaks volumes in itself.

In 2017, they published a peer-reviewed paper claiming hard evidence that the people of Gobekli Tepe had advanced astronomical skills, were aware of precession, and had clearly spent many centuries, even millennia, recording the movements of the heavenly bodies. Furthermore, Pillar 43 was a “date-stamp” for the summer solstice of 10,950 ± 250 BC, which the authors link directly to the Younger Dryas Impact event. And it’s all proven by irrefutable statistics, so it must be right, and all those other guys must be wrong. Unfortunately, it’s one of the finest examples of GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) that I’ve seen in many years.

You don’t need to be insulting, just concentrate on the evidence. And yes, the statistical case is central. You cannot refute our work without tackling it.

They started with two assumptions common among alternos: first, that the animals pictured in Gobekli Tepe were constellations, arranged meaningfully on the pillars;

Yes. We could have started with any other system of representation, but we are unable to see any other correlations. If you think there are other systems of representation (other than simply wild animals), please go ahead and suggest one. We will happily do the statistical analysis for you if you don’t know how. In any case, since we show a very strong correlation with an astronomical interpretation, other systems of representation are extremely unlikely.

second, that the Younger Dryas Impact happened, and made a huge impression on its survivors.

No, we don’t assume that at all. We do not refer to the YD impact hypothesis in any of our statistical analysis in the Fox paper. Nevertheless, we do conclude the evidence all points quite strongly in that direction.

After matching constellations with animals on the long-suffering Pillar 43 to their own satisfaction, and interpreting the “huts” along the top edge of the pillar as symbols of equinoxes or solstices, they ran statistical tests to see if their correlations were both significant, and significantly tied in with the notional date of the Younger Dryas Impact.

Not surprisingly, the results were dazzlingly significant—so much so, in fact, that Sweatman and Tsiskritsis claim any other interpretation of those images can be junked out of hand.

Correct – this is the scientific method in action. To be clear, our statistical analysis pertains to the animal symbols representing constellations, and that on Pillar 43 they represent a date using precession of the equinoxes. It is this aspect that is solidly supported by statistics. Other aspects concerning the relationship to the YD impact are not analysed statistically in the Fox paper, and so our comments in that paper are more cautions. Nonetheless, the totality of the evidence all points in that direction. We are clear about this distinction in the paper.

But the argument is circular

No, it isn’t. Perhaps you have picked this up from other online commentators. It is wrong, and Notroff et al. make no objection on these grounds.

If you identify the members of Set A (animal images) with the members of Set B, which are related to each other by definition (the asterisms), then you will inevitably find that Set A  tests out as significantly related, more so than other possible combinations of animal images.

It seems you do not understand our methodology at all. In fact, it seems you are dismissing the entire scientific method. You seem to be saying that it is impossible to assess the correlation between two data sets. This is, after all, what we are doing. I am quite sure the entire scientific community will disagree with you.

The basic idea is as follows. Suppose you had complete freedom to choose and place 4 animal symbols surrounding the scorpion, and 3 animal symbols at the top of the pillar, from the 13, or so, that appear on the broad faces of pillars at GT. What is the probability of picking a set that resembles the constellations suggested so closely, which can be interpreted as providing a date? I revisit this analysis in my latest ‘cave art’ paper and estimate it is in the region of 1 in 140 million. This is essentially zero. I know this, because this is the kind of calculation I do for my day-job – my research area is statistical mechanics where I routinely estimate the probability for specific configurations of molecules to occur at random. It’s the same principle here. Please see my ‘cave art’ paper, or my forthcoming book ‘Prehistory decoded’, for my latest thinking on this. Such a small probability can be ignored. Instead, as scientists, we should conclude the animal symbols were placed deliberately to record this date.

Sweatman and Tsikritsis were not testing whether the astronomical proposal was valid; they were essentially testing whether their non-randomly selected Set A was non-random. The first question then must be, how reliable was the identification of Set A with Set B? And there, problems arise.

No, you have misunderstood. We ask, what is the probability of selecting a set of animal symbols, from the 13 or so allowed, that match the constellations so closely. There are 13 to the power of 7= 63 million different combinations. In addition, we need to include a factor of around 8 to take account of the good positional arrangement of the symbols on the pillar (again, see my latest work or my book for justification of this). Therefore, if the animal symbols could be matched to their respective constellations without any ambiguity, i.e. if they were almost exact matches, the probability of choosing the combination on Pillar 43 at random would be around 1 in 500 million. However, we should divide by a factor of 2 because the top row of animal symbols next to the ‘handbags’ could be written left-right or right-left without changing its interpretation, leaving us at 1 in 250 million. Therefore, provided the selection of animal symbols seen on Pillar 43 is among the best 125 combinations available, our hypothesis should be accepted, as the probability of choosing a combination as good as this would be around 1 in 2 million. This is the ‘gold standard’ for science. Particle physicists, for example, must exceed this level of statistical confidence, 1 in 2 million (or more properly 5 ‘sigma’) before announcing the discovery of a new fundamental particle. Many research papers are published on the basis of much lower thresholds of statistical confidence.

Now, of course, the difficulty we have is in identifying unambiguously an animal symbol with a constellation. This is where our ranking table comes in. In this table we rank the animal symbols against each constellation. For example, if a particular animal symbol is the best, second best, third best etc. for a given constellation, it would score 1, 2, 3, etc. By multiplying all these ranks together, you can estimate the number of combinations of symbols that are as good as, or better, than the one that appears on the pillar.

To estimate the correct final probability, then, all you need to do is divide 250 million by the product of all these scores. In our case, we ranked all the animal symbols 1st, except for the ‘charging quadruped’ symbol, which along with the leopard/lion symbol, both match Gemini reasonably well, and better than the other animal symbols. Therefore, dividing 250 million by a factor of 2 gives an estimate of better than 1 in 100 million.

The only way to dispute our case is to produce your own ranking table. This ensures you are not being irrational, i.e. disputing our hypothesis when you actually agree, more-or-less, with our ranking of the symbols. Of course, there is some subjectivity here, as this pattern matching game is not so clear. Nevertheless, our view of the pattern matches would have to be completely wrong to render our statistical estimate meaningless.

One more thing about this. This analysis assumes that each combination of symbols has an equal chance of being chosen. However, if we bias this choice according to the appearance frequency of each animal symbol at GT, then the probability of choosing the combination that actually appears on Pillar 43 is even less, because they are mostly uncommon animal symbols at GT. Of the most common animal symbols at GT (fox, aurochs, boar, snake, tall bird) only the tall bird appears in one of these ‘slots’ on Pillar 43. To some extent, this observation offsets the uncertainty in the pattern matching, so that my estimate of better than 1 in 100 million is reasonable.

The Star Map

They assume that all animal figures represent constellations—except snakes, which represent meteors, and the little headless ithyphallic man on Pillar 43, who somehow symbolizes the dire human consequences of the YDI catastrophe.

Correct. But we do not assume they are always used to represent a map of the sky.

Sweatman and Tsikritsis construe the arrangement of some animals on Pillar 43 as a map of the stars, and identify the constellations by their proximity to each other, and by a markedly subjective looks-like-therefore-is approach using the magic of Stellarium. They do not attempt to interpret all the images on the pillar, and admit the positions are only approximate, but feel they are close enough to convey the message intended by the creators.

Correct. See above. This is all taken into account in our statistical analysis.

The starting point is the scorpion, representing a portion of Scorpio. The vulture above it, with its hooked beak and distinctive feathered wings, is thus Sagittarius, and the bird-head below it is Libra. To the right of the vulture, the bird with its long legs stretched oddly before it is identified as a crane, and combined with the bird-headed snaky thing beside it to form Ophiuchus. To the left of the scorpion, only partially visible, is what they interpret as a dog or wolf, identified with Lupus. The smaller-scale animals beside the handbag-shaped objects at the top are identified as Pisces (crane), Gemini (ibex/charging quadruped), and Virgo (frog; later, bear). Those eight identifications are what the first statistical analysis was based on, but there are substantive problems with several of them.

Good, this should be the focus of the discussion, as this is how we arrive at our ranking table. Essentially, in the following you are disputing our ranking. Let’s see what you think.

Vulture/Sagittarius. The distinctive vulture with outspread wings also appears on a slab from the same enclosure, with completely different neighbours: a hyena and a long-legged quadruped.

No, you have to make a ranking table, like we did. Pointing to other pillars whose context you do not understand simply shows you have not properly interpreted these pillars. It says nothing about the ranking, and therefore nothing about our statistical argument.

As for the slab you point to, it is only a fragment with fairly ambiguous animal symbols. Let’s see what you think about it.

The only detail in common is the circle appearing above the vulture’s wing, which Sweatman and Tsikritsis interpret as the sun on Pillar 43, and the archaeologists as a decapitated head on both images.

Sorry, but I can’t see a circle on this fragment? As this fragment is so, well, fragmentary, we shouldn’t read too much into it. But it might be consistent with our decoding if the ‘hyena’ is actually a bear. Then the three animals you point out might correspond to the eagle/vulture, bear and charging quadruped. Therefore, this fragment might be providing the date 10,950 BC again, just like Pillar 43. Indeed, in a follow up response you confirm that, to your eye, the beast does indeed look more like a bear than a hyena. In which case, you should agree we have probably decoded this fragment correctly. Congratulations Rebecca, you can take some credit for this one. History will remember your contribution.

On Pillar 56 from Enclosure H, the vulture is part of a dense crowd of birds, snakes, and predators, which again do not match the arrangement on Pillar 43. How valid is it to cherry-pick one of these “neighbourhoods” as a map of the sky?

Pillar 56 is interesting. Without Dimitrios’ consent I won’t describe our decoding of it yet, but suffice to say there is a completely consistent (and once you see it, obvious) interpretation for this pillar. So, not a problem for our theory at all (indeed, having decoded the previous fragment, I expect you will now be able to decode this pillar yourself).

Lupus/Wolf. The partially hidden image that Sweatman and Tsikritsis see here as a dog or wolf is the same image that they see elsewhere as a fox, and identify with the northern asterism of Aquarius. Note also that “Lupus” was first applied to that group of stars in the 2nd century AD; earlier star maps made it part of Centaurus, or an unidentified beast associated with Centaurus.

It is only your opinion they are the same. You’ll admit that foxes and wolves are quite similar creatures, so it is not surprising you might think they are the same symbol. But they needn’t be. Again, I refer you to our ranking table – see above. To refute our decoding you need to produce a ranking table with lots of 3s, 4s etc without any compensating 1s. 1s and 2s, and even several 3s, are fine. In other words, to dispute our statistical case we need to be very wrong, not just slightly wrong, about the pattern matches.

Ibex/Gemini. The creature has a long tail across its back, which Sweatman and Tsikritsis seem to have missed. Iconographically, it is closest to the lion images, and the fierce high-relief predator on Pillar 27.

We did not miss this. We agree with you on this -  it is similar to the lion/leopard. This is why it has rank 2 in our ranking table. In effect, you are supporting our decoding with this observation. Clearly, you have not understood our method or our ranking table. Neither have you understood that our method can take account of the uncertainty in the pattern matches you describe. Again, to refute our decoding, you need to produce a ranking table that is very different to ours, with lots of 3s, 4s, and above without any compensating 1s. A table full of 1s, 2s and even some 3s is fine.

Elsewhere, Sweatman identifies lion/leopard images with Cancer.

Correct. This later identification of the lion/leopard with Cancer is completely consistent with our decoding of GT. Again, you seem to be supporting our interpretation.

Crane/Pisces and Crane+Fish/Ophiuchus. Birds are all over the place on the GT pillars, in several distinct forms, and usually in groups of two or more. If the bending crane is Pisces, what would a whole cluster of bending cranes denote in astronomical terms? 

Again, the problem you have here is that you see everything as a map of the sky. This is not the case. They are almost certainly symbols for Pisces that are used flexibly to create different meanings in different contexts. There is no reason to assume that several tall birds must have a different meaning to just one tall bird. They can all simply mean ‘Pisces’.

And if the bird is sometimes a constellation and sometimes a bird, how do you reliably tell which is which? 

We never claim the tall birds are just birds. See comment above. This is your error.

The best illustration of this is Pillar 56, with its multiple examples of both birds which were identified as constellations on Pillar 43.

Again, the error is yours. They can represent Pisces here too. 

Inconsistencies like these do not exactly create confidence in Sweatman and Tsikritsis’s methodology.  

They are your errors, not ours.

I would say that, out of eight matches used in the statistical analysis, at least five are iffy enough to qualify as Garbage In (and I’m not too sure about Libra, either.) That is surely enough to guarantee Garbage Out on that portion of the paper.

Excellent – and this is the crunch. You need to be more precise. You should create your own ranking table like we did. If there are lots of 3s, 4s, 5s etc, in your table without any compensating 1s, then we are in trouble. 1s, 2s and even some 3s is fine. To not even attempt your own ranking table, indeed to even dismiss this out of hand, is irrational. Because unless you do this, you will not know whether you should actually agree with our decoding, or not, according to your own view of the pattern matches.

Pillars 2 and 38

Apart from Pillar 43, the only other pillars treated in detail by Sweatman and Tsikritsis are Pillar 38 from the same enclosure, and Pillar 2 from somewhat-younger Enclosure A. 

Not true. In our response to Notroff et al. we also mention Pillar 33. We’ll come back to this.

These were chosen because each pillar features three stacked images: aurochs, fox, and crane on Pillar 2; aurochs, boar, and crane on Pillar 38. On the face of it, as they admit, this would seem to falsify the constellation hypothesis, as different animals interpose between the aurochs and the crane on the two pillars, and how could that be matched with the sky? However, they turn it into a triumph of confirmation, via a dizzying multi-stepped logic trail involving the proposal that GT’s prime focus was observing meteors, the Taurids in particular, as the Taurids were the source for the notional Younger Dryas  impacter.

Apparently, in 9530 BC, the radiants of the northern and southern Taurid meteor streams passed between Capricorn and Pisces via the northern and southern parts of Aquarius, respectively.

Since the crane had already been identified as Pisces, that would make the aurochs into Capricorn, and the fox and boar into northern and southern Aquarius, respectively. Oh, and would also support the idea that GT was obsessed with the Taurid meteor showers, and that Pillar 43 was a memorial to the Younger Dryas Impact.

All correct. Let’s see what evidence you have against this position.

Problem #1: Pillar 2 certainly shows the sequence aurochs/fox/crane.


But Pillar 38’s topmost animal is clearly not an aurochs, but a fox. 

This is just your opinion. It could easily be an aurochs. However, as the head is damaged, this is uncertain. We comment on this in the paper.

Sweatman and Tsikritsis’s rationale for revising  the excavators’ determination is found only in a brief note in the references, and makes no sense at all.

No, it makes perfect sense. In this case, I agree, Pillar 38 is so damaged that it is hard to be sure about these symbols. It is rational, though, given our preceding statistical case, which provides the necessary confidence, to interpret it as an aurochs. And, indeed, I personally think the excavators have got this one wrong. It genuinely looks more like an aurochs than a fox to me. 

The bottom image is not the distinctive bent-legged crane shown on Pillars 2 and 43, but a group of three birds, a duck and two cranes. 

It is just your opinion it is a duck. It could be a group of 3 tall birds. Again, given the preceding statistical case for Pillar 43, it makes sense to assume it is a small crane rather than a duck. However, as before, we agree Pillar 38 is uncertain. This does not refute our statistical decoding of Pillar 43.

Therefore, the sequence is not aurochs/boar/crane, but fox/boar/birds. 

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Neither you nor I can say for sure. This doesn’t matter. Our statistical case for Pillar 43 is secure - it cannot be refuted by this route. You need to produce your own ranking table.

And since the bottom figure is not the Pisces previously proposed,

Why not? The cranes represent Pisces.

then the identifications of the other figures as Capricorn and Aquarius break down, as does the extraordinarily  tenuous conclusions that followed.

As before, we agree that Pillar 38 is uncertain. But its interpretation as Capricornus – southern Aquarius – Pisces is reasonable. Note, again, this does not refute our decoding, as that is based on Pillar 43. It just means your reading of these pillars is likely to be wrong. I notice you do not go through Pillar 2 in detail, which is a much clearer demonstration of our decoding.

Problem #2: There is, in fact, a third pillar with three stacked images, Pillar 20 from Enclosure D. There, the sequence is snake/aurochs/fox, which would invalidate one or another of Sweatman and Tsikritsis’s core assumptions. Either the snake is, after all, a constellation; or the triads do not, after all, represent three stacked constellations.

We only interpret the broad sides of the pillars. We do not attempt to interpret the narrow sides, which might obey a different convention. Nevertheless, this scene is consistent with our interpretation – it could be a depiction of the Northern Taurids, or an impact event, once more, absent Pisces but including a snake. Again, you are making the mistake of assuming everything is a map of the sky.

Let’s summarize what has just happened. Incorrectly and/or inconsistently identified images, interpreted according to baseless assumptions, were used to shore up a stream of wild speculation.

We have answered all your previous criticisms, and therefore this summary is simply your opinion.

No veneer of GIGO statistics, Stellarium screencaps, or ingenious leaps of logic can turn this farrago into science.

Our scientific case rests on Pillar 43 only. Interpretation of the other pillars in no way contradicts our conclusions. They can easily be interpreted consistently, as I describe above. Indeed, you yourself, with a little help, have just decoded the fragment. Well done.

Now, let’s return to Pillar 33, which on one broad face has some cranes and on the other has a fox. Snakes emanate from the bodies of both animals and converge on the narrow face. How can this pillar be interpreted simply as animals? How does it make any sense for snakes to be emerging from the bodies of cranes and foxes? As we point out in our rebuttal to Notroff et al., Pillar 33 is easily interpreted within our scheme as Taurid meteors emanating from the direction of Pisces and northern Aquarius, rather like the narrow face of Pillar 20 you refer to above. It makes perfect sense.

And what an impoverished vision of the Gobekli Tepe phenomenon this is, jamming a vibrant culture into the straitjacket of a modern obsession—as if the ability to track precession and record equinoxes from a thousand years back were valid measures of an ancient society’s worth.

This is just your opinion. In fact, our recent ‘cave art’ paper proves we are correct.

In fact, the rich iconography of Gobekli Tepe suggests an equally rich mythology and a repertoire of entertaining narratives that we can only guess at so far. 

Our statistical case for Pillar 43 is solid, and our interpretation of the other pillars is consistent with it, as explained above. Your view that an astronomically-based mythology is ‘impoverished’ is just your opinion. In my view, it is quite obvious, and I provide an excellent reason for this my new book. In fact, in my book I agree that these animal symbols are also tied up with a consistent mythology. But this is much harder to prove. I’ll simply refer you to Michael Witzel’s book ‘Origin of the World’s mythologies’ for this viewpoint.

The little headless cadaver on Pillar 43 links into widespread contemporary concepts of the relationship between the living and the dead.

Just your opinion.

The bent cranes with their humanoid legs hint at masquerading dancers involved in colourful shamanistic celebrations—possibly with beer.

Just your opinion.

Yes indeed, Gobekli Tepe is a hell of a site. It deserves to be evaluated for what it was, rather than what the alternos need it to be.

We have answered all your criticisms.

Further reading:

The same journal that published Sweatman and Tsikritsis’s original paper allowed the excavators to respond, and the authors to rebut. At the end is a critique by Graham Hancock’s favourite archaeoastronomer, Paul D. Burley, who is intrigued by the thesis but not terribly impressed by the star map.

Alterno Andrew Collins critiques Sweatman and Tsikritsis, with a side-swipe at Burley.

Again, you cannot compare our analysis with theirs. Ours is based on statistics, and is therefore scientific. Theirs is not. I agree, their interpretations are wildly speculative.


  1. Such a significant finding upsets a lot of academic applecarts. My group is boggling at the implications for anthropology and the sudden wealth of research opportunities. Please continue your extremely valuable work.

    1. Hi Timothy, many thanks indeed. There will, of course, be more revelations in my book that will upset some orange-carts too. No aliens of course - just us humans being rather clever.

  2. Martin, you removed my comments. Our agreement was that you would post your rebuttal on this site, and I would respond on my site, and post the links here. In fairness, you really should let this comment stand. The links are:


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