Gobekli Tepe's Pillars
Significance: Gobekli Tepe (GT) probably represents the origin of civilisation for most of the world today. Most of us are connected to it in some way, through language and religion (proto-Nostratic), or genetics at least.
The Pillars: GT is famous for its anomalous megalithic pillars, and especially the symbols carved on them. Most people think these symbols are telling an important story - they are not just random pictures of animals. Klauss Schmidt, who discovered GT and led its excavation, until his death in 2014, certainly thought so. It follows that the only way we will ever be able to properly understand Gobekli Tepe, and therefore the origin of civilisation, is through reading its pillars.
Deutsche Archaeological Institute: the DAI operates the Gobekli Tepe dig. Despite the immense significance of the site, they continue to have a casual disregard for the information encoded on its pillars. Over 60 pillars have been uncovered, but only around 20 are documented by the DAI. Although many have no symbols, even 25 years after the site's discovery there is no single resource available that describes all its pillars. Good photos of some of the pillars can be found in journal papers, but these are often behind a paywall. Many other photos of the pillars can be found on social media platforms, but these often lack the details desired.
Aim: my aim here is to circumvent the DAI's ineptitude, and present as much information about the symbols on GT's pillars as I can find to create a public resource. Please let me know if I have missed anything.
The Younger Dryas impact: in Prehistory Decoded, I lay out the basis for an interpretation of GT's pillars based on the Younger Dryas (YD) impact, circa 10,785 - 10,885 BC, likely caused by our encounter with the fragments of a comet from the Taurid meteor stream. In essence, it seems our civilisation began with a bang!
Ancient Egypt: symbolic connections between GT and Ancient Egypt (AE) are also very strong, in addition to the obvious similarities in terms of megalithic architecture and astronomical religion. Klauss Schmidt thought so too - he pointed out several connections himself, despite their cultures being separated by nearly 5000 years and 500 miles. As GT represents the likely origin of civilisation for most of the world, connections between GT many ancient cultures, like the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, are to be expected. I therefore highlight further possible connections where they are likely.
Astronomical symbolism: throughout, I take it as given that GT's symbolism is astronomical. Apart from the self-evident sun and moon (eclipse?) symbols on Pillar 18, and the likely Pleiades symbols on the base of Pillar 18, it is extremely likely that the animal symbols represent star constellations (see here) and are connected to much more ancient Palaeolithic cave art. Many scholars today accept the primacy of astronomy in ancient myth and religion, although proving this is difficult before written texts. So the DAIs unwillingness to consider an astronomical interpretation for GT is actually quite odd, and shows how modern, fashionable archaeology is ill-equipped to study these ancient sites.
Maps: GT is huge, as the ground penetrating radar scan below shows. The excavated portion is detailed bottom-right on this scan, including Enclosures A to D shown in green. A larger map of these four enclosures and their pillars is shown after. Enclosure H is on the northern edge of the larger radar scan map.
Pillar 1: Central Pillar of Enclosure A, the snakes likely represent meteors, while the ram likely represents the constellation Aries. This pillar therefore likely depicts meteors from the direction of Aries, or approaching Aries, and therefore might represent an aspect of the Taurid meteor stream.
Connections to AE are likely in terms of the Uraeus symbol (Klauss Schmidt suggested this himself) as well as other serpent deities (such as Apep and Nehebkau), and with Amun in the New Kingdom who was often represented as a ram (Aries was the spring equinox constellation during the New Kingdom). Of course, we also have the Lamb of God, aka Jesus, in Christianity, which likely derives from the Jewish sacrificial lamb, which itself likely derives, again, from the spring equinox constellation Aries.
Serpent symbolism is seen across the world's religions (not least as Satan himself in Christianity), so the snakes seen here are probably not the earliest representation of meteors by snakes we will ever find. Since Klauss Schmidt's death, the site's archaeologists have taken a more 'fashionable' (in archaeological circles) view of the symbols - they think the snakes on this pillar depict a garment for example!
Pillar 2: The second central pillar of Enclosure A, likely depicts the sequence of constellations, Capricornus (bull), Aquarius (fox) and Pisces (tall bending bird), which would likely have been the path of the radiant of the northern Taurid meteor stream circa 10,000 BC. Possibly, this pillar represents the name of that meteor stream.
We know the Taurids exhibit longitudinal precession of roughly 30 degrees every 6,000 years, which equates to about 4 hours along the ecliptic from today's radiant path if translating to 10,000 BC). This means the current path of the Northern Taurids shown in Stellarium (mid-Pisces through Aries to the end of Taurus) would translate to mid-Capricornus through northern Aquarius to end-Pisces, as shown on Pillar 2. The fox, though, is facing the wrong way, so I have reversed Aquarius in the image below.
Similarities with the Cartouche writing convention of AE is clear - see an example in the middle below. See also a stone plaquette (below right) found at GT, which has a similar structure. Possibly, this stone plaquette tells the story of the comet god (trident symbol) who attacked and killed (explosion symbol) the cosmic serpent god (falling snake symbol) who fell to Earth, perhaps a mythical description of the Younger Dryas event. It is a myth, the 'chaoskampf', repeated in many religions, including by the Ancient Egyptians (Set vs Apep), Babylonians (Marduk vs Tiamat), and Christians (the fall of Satan). The site's archaeologists interpret this stone plaquette simply as the sequence (the other way up), snake, tree, bird, with no further meaning.
The bull symbol at the top of Pillar 2, likely representing the constellation Capricornus, is probably connected to many ancient cow deities and entities, including those of Ancient Egypt (e.g. Hathor and Apis) and the Babylonian Bull of Heaven, and even the Pictish Burghead Bull symbols. Typically, the bull is associated with death, an association that might date back to the Lascaux Shaft Scene and a time when the Taurid meteor stream was probably centred on Capricornus (see here).
Pillar 14: Enclosure B, quadruped, maybe a fox