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 3: Enclosure A, no symbols

Pillar 4: Enclosure A, no symbols

Pillar 5: Enclosure A, a snake

Pillar 6: Enclosure B, the view shown below is of Pillar 6's outer surface, looking north towards Pillars 9 and 10. The down-crawling creature might be the same as the one on the top-right of Pillar 43, but this is not clear. If it is, then it likely represents the constellation Virgo. But there are also other down-crawling creatures carved at GT, and this symbol shows some similarities with them. There is what appears to be a snake on the column below. Because these carvings are on its outer surface, it appears this pillar has been moved.

Pillar 7: Enclosure B, some carvings, but largely obliterated

Pillar 8: Enclosure B

Pillars 9 and 10: Central pillars of Enclosure B, each has a fox carved onto its inner surface. Pillar 9 has a small bowl carved into the stone at its foot.

The fox, likely representing the constellation Aquarius, is one of the most common animals carved at Gobekli Tepe. The Taurid meteor stream was likely centred over Aquarius around 9,000 BC when this Enclosure was in use. Possibly, the fox symbol at GT is connected to the AE deity Set, god of chaos and desert storms who is often depicted with what appears to be a fox's head. 

The portal entrance to Enclosure B on its north side depicts a bull's head (bucranium) flanked by a pair of foxes. Again, this likely indicates the constellations Capricornus and Aquarius, and therefore the Taurid meteor stream. It is not surprising, then, to find several Mesopotamian proverbs relating to the fox and bull, while foxes and bulls feature prominently in their religious iconography (see here)

Pillar 11: Enclosure C

Pillar 12: south west side of outer ring of Enclosure C, features a scene with several small birds on the top, or 'head', of the pillar, above a boar and fox on the 'body'. A hole, probably for astronomical sighting is just above the boar. Possibly, this row of birds (are there seven of them?) has the same meaning as the row on the base of pillar 18, which likely represents the Pleiades (see Pillar 18). The boar and fox are in reverse order compared to Pillar 38, where we see the series: fox, boar, tall bending birds. Pillar 38 likely refers to the Southern Taurids, with the fox representing Aquarius and the boar representing Cetus, or a nearby asterism (see Pillar 38). Therefore, Pillar 12 might also refer to the Southern Taurids. Alternatively, it might be referencing both the northern branch, symbolised by the fox which would have been at the their centre, and the southern branch, symbolised by the boar which would have been at their centre, of the Taurid meteor stream. Here we again see the association of the Pleiades with cosmic disaster, a common theme in later myths and religions.

Pillar 13: Enclosure C

Pillar 14: Enclosure B, quadruped, maybe a fox

Pillar 15: Enclosure B
Pillar 16: Enclosure B

Pillar 17: Enclosure A, destroyed, without symbols

Pillar 18: one of the central Pillars of Enclosure D, the oldest and largest enclosure yet discovered, is also one of the most iconic and important pillars at GT. It is clearly anthropomorphic, suggesting a deity, and displays prominent fox symbolism, with its fox-pelt loin cloth and fox held under its arm. This tells us that the fox, likely representing Aquarius, has a special status in their religion. The Taurid meteor stream was likely centred on Aquarius at the time this enclosure was in use.

The belt buckle, with a motif similar to a trident (a common symbol in later religions) and the Jewish Menorah, might represent a comet. The H-symbols here are important, because their clear geometric design tells us they are symbols with abstract meaning. It follows that all the other symbols can have an abstract meaning. Given the astronomical context, they might indicate bright stars, while the crescents along the belt are probably too thin to represent the moon. Recent work suggests these crescent and H-symbols together actually represent the word for 'god' .

The 'brooch', found just under the 'head', appears to depict sun and moon symbols, perhaps representing an eclipse, and another H-symbol, possibly representing the stars. These brooch symbols are obscured by dots in their centres, perhaps indicating the sun, moon and stars are obscured by dust, possibly relating to the YD impact.

The base of the pillar is set into a socket in the bedrock. Seven small bird symbols adorn the front side of the socket. The number seven is often seen in a religious astronomical context, and usually either refers to the seven visible heavenly bodies (sun, moon, and five visible planets) or the seven apparent stars of the Pleiades. In the case of Pillar 18, it likely refers to the Pleiades, which are described as seven birds in myths from various cultures (see here). The Pleiades are also often associated with cosmic disaster (see here). Here, the apparent association of the Pleiades is with the Taurid meteor stream, represented by the fox, i.e. Aquarius, on which their radiant path was centred.

Pillar 19: Enclosure D

Pillar 20: on the south east side of enclosure D, with a boar on its broad face, and a snake, bull, and probably a fox on its narrow face, likely referencing the Taurid meteor stream again. The boar seems likely to represent a constellation between Cetus and Pisces, perhaps even Cetus itself, along the path of the Southern Taurids. However, limited evidence from Lepinski Vir suggests the boar represents an asterism between Capricornus and Sagittarius.

Pillar 21: Enclosure D, probably an ass or donkey on one face. The caption also mentions a gazelle, but it looks to me more like a sheep. None of the animals here are clear. Evidence from the Lascaux Shaft Scene and other Palaeolithic cave art suggests the horse represents the constellation Leo, but it is not known if this ass/donkey at GT is similar. This is one of the few pillars without a fox or bull. Given many of the other pillars appear to refer to the Taurid meteor stream, does this pillar refer to a different meteor stream?

Pillar 22: east side of Enclosure D, the fox, likely representing Aquarius, is clear, but the caption also mentions a snake, which is not clear. Possibly, this pillar is similar to pillar 33, and is another representation of the Taurid meteor stream. There are some symbols on the inner narrow face, but they are faint and difficult to make out.

Pillar 23: outer ring of Enclosure C
Pillar 24: inner ring of Enclosure C
Pillar 25: outer ring of Enclosure C

Pillar 26: east side of the inner ring of Enclosure C, small carving of a boar on its inner face, possibly representing an asterism between Cetus and Pisces, or Cetus itself, along the radiant path of the Southern Taurids.

Pillar 27: west side of inner ring of Enclosure C, is remarkable for its 3D carving of a down-crawling 'predator', which appears to be stalking a scrofa (baby boar). The species of predator, with its ribs clearly seen, is not completely clear. Perhaps best described as feline? Perhaps the same symbol as on Pillar 6, but this is not clear.

Pillar 28: north side of inner ring of enclosure C, more boars, likely representing a constellation between Cetus and Pisces, perhaps even Cetus itself, and the Southern Taurids.

A symbol is apparent on the 'neck' of the pillar, probably identical to the ones on the belt of Pillar 18, which have been interpreted to mean 'god' (see here). A solitary H or I symbol appears lower down.

Pillar 29:

Pillar 30: north side of Enclosure D, has a hole in its top, perhaps for astronomical sighting. Given the pillar's current position, perhaps it has been moved. On the pillar's inner, narrow face we have an H-symbol above some downward heading snakes, likely representing meteors. A quadruped of indeterminate species is also seen next to the snakes. The H-symbol without the surrounding semi-circles is curious. Presumably, the H-symbol has an astronomical meaning of its own, which is augmented by the semi-circles. So, perhaps, if the H-symbol with semi-circles means 'god', as suggested, then the H-symbol by itself might mean 'stars', 'sky' or 'heaven'. Together with the semi-circles, the meaning might be shifted to 'star-god' or 'sky-god', rather than simply 'god', a common theme in many other religions, include the Indo-European system.

Pillar 31: the second central pillar of Enclosure D is very similar to it's 'brother', Pillar 18, but is less decorated. Gone are the H and crescent symbols on the belt or beside the buckle. And the 'eclipse' brooch is exchanged for what looks like a bucranium symbol.

Bull deities, and especially bucrania, usually seem to be associated with death in ancient religions. But this pillar still appears to wear the fox-pelt loincloth and comet-shaped belt buckle.

The 'sky-brother' theme is common in many religions, including Indo-European ones. If the AE religion is an even closer descendent of the one at GT, as seems likely given the similarities, then perhaps these sky-brothers eventually came to represent Set and Osiris in AE. Set is often represented with what appears to be a fox's head, while Osiris was associated with the Apis bull. Set fought and killed his brother, but Osiris was resurrected by his wife, Isis. Together, they sired Horus, representing the re-establishment of civilisation. Does this tale reflect the events of the Younger Dryas impact? Or is the sky-brother myth much older even than this event? Considering the sky-brother mytheme is common even in New-World religions, perhaps it has a much older origin, but was re-formulated into something resembling the Set-Osiris myth following the YD impact? Note that Set is said to have torn Osiris' body into seven separate parts before they were re-assembled, perhaps another reference to the Pleiades. As the sky-brother mytheme seems to be much older even than GT, does it reference an ancient cometary splitting event? Perhaps one of the brothers later fell to Earth and died (the Younger Dryas impact event perhaps represented by Pillar 31) while the other brother survived - the hero represented by Pillar 18?

Pillar 32: south side of Enclosure D

Pillar 33: south side of Enclosure D, has two tall birds on one broad face mirrored by a fox on the other. Snakes emanate from the bodies of these animals, with their heads meeting on the inner face. Shorter birds can be seen on the 'head' of the pillar. Snakes and two spiders can be seen on the inner face along with a tiny carving of a quadruped.

This pillar is one of the most important at GT because it tells us these are not actual snakes emanating from the legs and bodies of actual birds and foxes. Indeed, it is absolutely clear these are symbols. Given GT represents the origin of civilisation for most of us, and astronomy was the focus of religions of the great civilisations later in this region, and probably the focus of most ancient religions across the world, an astronomical interpretation is the first that should be tested. In this context, the snakes make perfect sense as meteors, emanating from constellations.

The fox likely represents Aquarius while the tall birds likely represent Pisces. Indeed, that there are two tall birds could be significant here - we, of course, know Pisces as a pair of fish. These scenes, therefore, probably depict the Taurid meteor stream again, as its radiant travels from Aquarius to Pisces. Do the spiders signify death or another astronomical object? The birds at the top on the 'head' of the pillar are different, and resemble those on the base of Pillar 18, which likely represent the Pleiades. At one time, perhaps there were seven of these birds here? Once again, it seems we are seeing the association of the Pleiades with the destruction of the Taurid meteor stream, something which is associated with just the Pleiades alone in various later myths from different regions.

If the fox, or Aquarius, came to represent Set, god of chaos and desert storms, in the later AE religion, then perhaps the tall bird, or Pisces, came to represent Thoth, a god of writing, wisdom, magic and the moon, and one of the most important and oldest in AE. We can view Thoth as representing an ideal shaman/priest - perhaps the 'original' shaman/priest. This would help to explain the many ancient images of humans with beak-masks and feathered arms, including the dying man in the Lascaux Shaft Scene.

Considering that there are two spiders in different place on the pillar, it's unlikely the spider represents a constellation or other astronomical object. More likely it simply symbolises death.

Pillar 34: north side of Enclosure B
Pillar 35: central pillar of Enclosure C
Pillar 36: south side of inner ring of Enclosure C
Pillar 37: central pillar of Enclosure C

Pillar 38: west side of Enclosure D, displays three animals in a vertical series, just like Pillar 2 which was interpreted as telling the path, or perhaps the name, of the Northern Taurid meteor stream. The upper symbol on Pillar 38 is probably a fox, although the pitting makes this less than clear, with a boar and tall bending birds underneath. In my 'fox' paper I thought the upper symbol might be a bull, but from viewing other photos more recently the fox's long snout became clearer. It's probably a fox, but my interpretation of the pillar's meaning remains unchanged, i.e. it likely represents the path of the radiant, or name, of the Southern Taurids.

If we take the Southern Taurid radiant path shown in Stellarium (head of Cetus through to mid-end-Taurus) and translate it by 4 hours along the ecliptic, just as we did for the Northern Taurids and Pillar 2, then according to Stellarium the Southern Taurids would take a path from southern Aquarius through the tail of Cetus to mid Pisces in 10,000 BC (see image below). The boar shown on Pillar 38 would then correspond to a constellation between the tail of Cetus and Pisces, or perhaps even Cetus itself, while the fox would correspond to the whole of Aquarius. In any case, the meaning of this pillar can be interpreted as the Southern Taurid meteor stream.

There's an interesting detail involving the birds at the bottom of Pillar 38. While two of them appear to be tall bending birds, both with sharp beaks, likely representing Pisces, the other bird is more similar to those on the base of Pillar 18 and the tops of Pillars 12 and 33, likely representing the Pleiades. Again, just like on Pillar 33, we see two tall bending birds together, reinforcing the possibility that each bird represents the two branches of Pisces. And, again, we see the likely association of the Pleiades with the Taurid meteor stream.

Pillar 39: north side of inner ring of Enclosure C
Pillar 40: east side of inner ring of Enclosure C
Pillar 41: west side of Enclosure D
Pillar 42: west side of Enclosure D

Pillar 43: north side of Enclosure D, the most important pillar at GT, possibly the most important archaeological artefact in the world, sometimes called the 'Vulture Stone', is our Rosetta Stone because we can decode it with confidence. It is almost certain (see here and here) that the western broad face encodes a date 10,825 BC, to within 75 years (see here). The probability this interpretation is wrong is very tiny. 

According to this interpretation, the main scene is a map of the constellations around Scorpius: in clockwise order we have Sagittarius (the eagle/vulture), Ophiuchus (tall bird with fish), Libra (goose?), and Lupus (dog/wolf). The squat bird-like symbol to the right of the eagle/vulture presumably represents a currently unknown asterism. The dog/wolf is very similar to the fox, but there are subtle differences in the head and paws that suggest it is a different creature. Essentially, the fox always appears to have a longer snout and never has articulated paws (they bend backwards for the dog/wolf on Pillar 43). The circle on the eagle/vulture's wing almost certainly represents the sun, and denotes a date using precession of the equinoxes. We know it represents the sun, and not a skull as the site's archaeologists have suggested, because we see the same symbol (the circular disc) next to a moon symbol on the neck of Pillar 18. This connection also shows the animal symbols are very likely constellations - why else would animals be surrounding the sun? The only relevant epoch is the summer solstice, which sets the date stated. We see the same system, with a disk representing the position of the sun on the summer solstice, at several other sites, from Catalhoyuk through to Ancient Egypt, Persia, Mesopotamia and Celtic Europe (see here). Probably, this system extends beyond this, carried by the Anatolian (circa 6,000 BC) and Indo-European (circa 3,000 BC) migrations.

At the top of the pillar we see three symbols likely representing sunsets, each carrying a small animal. These almost certainly represent the other equinoxes and solstice on the given date; Pisces on the spring equinox (bending bird - left), Gemini on the winter solstice (charging ibex - middle), and Virgo on the autumn equinox (down-crawling bear - right). The latter two symbols are not so clear, and might easily be mistaken for other animals. For example, it has been suggested by others that the middle symbol is a crouching feline facing right while the right-most symbol could be a frog. Fortunately, we have a broken pillar fragment from Enclosure D that shows this is unlikely.

This fragment is likely encoding the same date - it probably has the same function as Pillar 43. Here we clearly see the eagle/vulture and probably the bear, likely denoting Sagittarius and Virgo respectively. Above them is a quadruped, probably representing Gemini, which is more likely to be an ibex than a squat pouncing feline - it has long legs and probably hooves, not short legs and paws with claws. The site's archaeologists suggest the circular feature at the top of this fragment is a decapitated head or skull, but this is not clear.

We have corroboration for these identifications from other sites. For example, at Catalhoyuk, we have bear shrines with circles in the middle of their bellies, likely representing Virgo on the summer solstice (two images upper right are from Catalhoyuk, compared with two images upper left from GT). And on Pictish symbol stones we have an 'aquatised' version of the ibex (below left, compared with the ibex on Pillar 43 below right), likely representing Gemini on the summer solstice (see here).

Of course, the date on this pillar is very close to the estimated date of the YD impact, 10,835 BC, to within 50 years (see here). The YD impact is thought to have been caused by a swarm of comet fragments from the Taurid meteor stream. The headless man at the bottom of Pillar 43 suggests the date encoded is connected with death. And considering Pillar 43 is the most ornate pillar yet found at GT, and therefore one of the most important, it is likely telling us an important story about the motivation for building GT. Essentially, it seems GT was built in response to the YD impact. Pillar 43 can then be viewed as a memorial to this event, and the other pillars are concerned with the Taurid meteor stream. Essentially, it seems civilisation was inspired by a new religion at GT, which itself was a response to the YD impact.

The Lascaux Shaft Scene shows several similarities with Pillar 43 and is likely another memorial to an
encounter with the Taurid meteor stream, this time around 15,200 BC. This impact possibly triggered the end of the Late Middle Magdalenian culture in southern France (see here).

Other symbols can be seen on the narrow faces of Pillar 43, such as a spider and snake. The snake likely represents a meteor while the spider might represent death.

Many of the animals on Pillar 43 feature as some of the most important, and oldest, deities in the AE pantheon. We have already met the tall bending bird, which likely became Thoth. But the bear doesn't seem to feature in AE religion, probably because they were absent from the AE landscape. The ibex, or similar gazelle, does feature in Egyptian desert rock art from pre-dynastic times, and can also be seen on Cippus of Horus scenes. But there is no important AE deity associated with this animal, to my knowledge. The situation is different in Mesopotamia, where Attar was one of the major deities, with the form of an ibex and associated with war and the planet Venus. Later, apparently during the reign of Sargon of Akkad, he became syncretised with Inanna, the female god of love and fertility, changed sex and was later known as Ishtar.

The scorpion is familiar as a major deity in AE (e.g. Serket), and features prominently in Mesopotamian myths and art. The vulture and bird or prey are among the most important AE deities, namely Horus with the head of a hawk and Nekhbet with the head of a vulture. Perhaps Pillar 43 should be known as the 'Horus Stone', rather than the 'Vulture Stone'? Anubis is a familiar AE deity with the head of a dog. And Amun, one of the most venerated of all AE deities, was associated with the goose during the Middle Kingdom. But this was probably due to syncretisation with Geb, god of the Earth, one of the oldest and most important deities in the AE Ennead, and due to Libra being the autumn equinox constellation at the time.

Pillar 44: outer ring Enclosure C
Pillar 45: outer ring Enclosure C
Pillar 46: inner ring Enclosure C
Pillar 47: inner ring Enclosure C
Pillar 48:
Pillar 49: outer ring Enclosure C
Pillar 50:

Pillar 51: central pillar, Enclosure H shows a leaping feline, possibly a leopard. At Catalhoyuk the leopard clearly signifies the constellation Cancer, and this also fits with European Palaeolithic cave art (see here). However, in the Mesopotamian tradition, from which our modern constellations derive, the feline represents Leo. We don't yet know which tradition the feline symbol at GT follows, but I expect this symbol represents Cancer, not Leo.

The Great Sphinx of Giza, which faces due east, being an anomalous giant sculpture, possibly represents Cancer or Leo on the spring equinox. If it represents Cancer, then it was likely built between 7,800 BC and 6,400 BC. However, if it represents Leo it was likely built between 10,500 and 7,800 BC. Conventionally, it is dated to the same age as the Great Pyramids, but there is some evidence this is wrong (see Prehistory Decoded).

Several major AE deities are associated with the feline form, including Seshat, goddess of wisdom, knowledge and writing. Seshat is also associated with another emblem with seven points or horns (likely connected with the Pleaides), and is often stated to be the wife or daughter of Thoth. There are also AE lion gods and goddesses, like Sekhmet, typically signifying war, destruction and death.

Pillar 52:
Pillar 53:
Pillar 54:
Pillar 55:

Pillar 56: Enclosure H, shows many animals. The central figure is a single eagle/vulture, but there are multiple copies of the tall bending bird (likely representing Pisces) and what might be a bear (likely representing Virgo), smaller birds (likely representing the Pleiades) and snakes (likely representing meteors). Possibly, then, this pillar has the same function as Pillar 43 and memorialises the Younger Dryas impact. It's not clear if there are seven copies of the animals, reinforcing the Pleiades theme. Carvings on the narrow face are not clear. Perhaps a bucranium and snakes?

Pillar 57: enclosure H, showing snakes on its inner face, likely representing meteors

Pillar 58: enclosure B
Pillar 59: outer ring, north side of Enclosure C
Pillar 60:
Pillar 61: Enclosure A
Pillar 62: Enclosure B
Pillar 63:
Pillar 64:
Pillar 65:

Pillar 66: enclosure H, has an incised drawing, rather than a relief carving, of a bull on its top part, likely symbolising Capricornus. The hole might have been used for astronomical sighting originally, although the pillars current position suggests it has been moved.

Pillar 67:
Pillar 68:

Pillar 69: enclosure H, another leopard likely representing Cancer or Leo


  1. Fascinating study about this great mystery. Now, might need a long and arduous study for us to decipher and understand, all these decoded here. Praise and Respect, Mr. Martin.

  2. Utterly mind-blowing! I am incredibly grateful that your interpretation of this critically important archaeological site is available to the entire world. The magnitude of GT and especially of the Vulture Stone, cannot be understated; positively sends chills up my spine. Thank you for your invaluable intellect and dedication to decoding GT.

  3. Amazing, again. Congratulations.
    I've sent this to an archeologist friend of mine in Alaska.
    Can I ask if you have a resource that has decoded any Celtic Myths from an Astronomical perspective? I only know of three books so far...

    1. Ah, I'm not so much into the mythology. But I agree, there might be some hints in them. The problem is in deciding what is astronomical and what is, well, just myth.

  4. Wonderful idea, this 'Sweatman list'...

    The stunning pilar 57 looks like a 'zoo' to me, but not as friendly.
    when there are so many copies made, should we then think about this pilar being an early register from the past?
    up front we seem to read: Taurid and Comets which is the name of the register?

    17 snakes = 17 comets reported by them?
    in this way we could see where they usually came from, isn't it?
    and how long this enclosure was in use.

    but thát is for another book..haha
    I am waiting..:-)

  5. Some observations, ideas and questions:

    We can't possibly know what they were thinking, therefore the "H" symbol coming from a later language and meaning "God" smacks of the temple-religion concept, and I understood you to say before that you don't consider these religious temples but "special places". If I'm wrong on that, please let me know.
    The "H" shaped symbol is found all over the world, used by some of the ancient civilizations that built walls with stones fitting very tightly together as in Peru. If you watch some of the youtube programs about that, you'll see what I mean. Or maybe it's just a style of buckle they wore.
    Why do you think both of the large pillars are men? Isn't it more likely a man and a woman? When you consider some of the other carvings from GT such as that of a woman giving birth doesn't it seem likely that one of these main features is a woman if the other is a man?
    The small birds or ducks along the edge of the platform on one of the pillars numbered more than seven, as I recall. I have a picture somewhere of the original. I've been trying to find it and will let you know when I do.
    Another thing I noticed is the chevron pattern on pillar 43 which reminds me of the same pattern that was found inside some of the enclosures at Skara Brae.
    I also wanted to ask if you've seen the more recently discovered Karahan Tepe, about 25 miles from GT. If so, what are your thoughts on it, and will you be writing about it?
    Lastly, I want to say that I am extremely happy and fascinated to see your scientific approach to these ancient sites. I have studied quite a bit about ancient civilizations and believe it's very important to bring scientific analysis and interpretations to light when it comes to these sites and those who made them. Thanks very much for your work!

    1. I expect GT was like a temple - it makes sense to me. I expect the tall central pillars were deities, possibly early examples of the 'sky-brothers', a popular mythical/religious element seen in many later religions. We can't know for sure, of course. Yes, 'H-symbols' are seen elsewhere, but we can't know if they are related. An H-symbol is sufficiently simple that it might be invented independently by different cultures. The carving of a woman is of a much more basic style - very different to the animal carvings. We don't know how it relates to the other symbols at GT. I'm not sure it has any mythical status. No, the number of birds on the base of the pillar is definitely 7. I have photos too.
      Interesting observation about the chevrons. I haven't seen the chevrons at Skara Brae, but its possible there is a connection with GT. I suspect the zodiacal and mythical symbols were widely known across Europe at least. I'll try to find these chevrons - thanks for the hint. Karahan Tepe is awesome. Its going to be huge. Yes, I have been there. I will be writing about it, but I'm saving that for my next book! Thanks for your thoughts. :)

    2. If there is a myth of "sky brothers" it isn't well known in near-east mythology or any other I've heard of. I would expect Hittite mythology to be the most relevant to that area if you're going to go down that road. Of the known religions as far back as the clay tablets tell, there was a pantheon of gods and godesses. But what happened to your scientific approach? That's what was so different about your information - you backed it up with science rather than jumping on the "It must be a temple!" bandwagon.
      If they erected these places after the YD ice age began they would have been learning how to survive in a completely new environment after generations in a warmer, more temperate climate. If not them, then their predecessors were thrown into a new ice-age hunter-gatherer existence without any previous knowledge of how to live that way. No matter what caused it, the YD happened suddenly. It killed the mega-fauna. If they were hunter-gatherers, they depended on those for food. In ice-age climate they wouldn't have been clothed in loin cloths as depicted on the stone; they would have been dressed in something to keep them warm. And this went on for approximately 1200 years, as I understand it.
      The comet fragments plunging to earth and burning, then freezing everything, killing many of them and wiping out a great deal of their food source would have been shocking and terrifying. Suddenly having to learn to survive in this new landscape would have remained the stuff of saga and storytelling for generations, and there would have been a constant lookout for another threat from the sky.
      That being said, isn't it much more likely that this was a place of education and solidarity in the face of having survived a huge catastrophe? Their biggest concern would have been figuring out how to get food, clothing, shelter and drinkable water. Those are first on the hierarchy of needs.

    3. I'm not disagreeing with you, and you kinda contradict yourself there. Yes to education, and astronomy too. Agree, 'Temple' is too narrow a word. I've previously used 'university' and 'monastery' too. We can get too hung-up on modern words, which don't apply so well to ancient structures. BTW, its okay to speculate in science. That's how the process starts. The sky-brothers are a well-known mytheme across the world, prominent in western Eurasia. Think Gilgamesh, and Set vs Osiris too. Lots of others too.

    4. I don't see any contradiction there. If a catastrophe happens, it becomes a saga or story and is passed down that way, even in recent history. It's a way of warning and teaching the next generations. If you look at the pillars as representing gods, I said "I would expect the Hittite mythology to be most relevant".
      I also said, "If you're going to go down that road", and then suggested not going down that road. The scientific approach is fresh and appealing because in using it you put forth a hypothesis and objectively test it. If it doesn't prove true you refine it depending on what that indicates. It will always be a theory since there is always the possibility of new information coming to light. Think the theory of relativity, or the theory of gravity. So even though it's conjecture, in this case it's a different way of looking at the archeology, and brings new questions to consider. That's what engages the mind and keeps people involved.

  6. Hello Dr. Sweatman,
    I'm the viewer on youtube who argued a few months back for your placement in the scientific pantheon along with Thomas Kuhn! Still feel that way! scottsvine@comcast.net
    Given that post-catastrophic life and bare minimal survival itself extremely challenging, I find myself asking why, then would those ancients also still feel the need (and energy) to commit to such an extraordinary megalithic effort? "Temples" honoring magical forces to my thinking doesn't sufficiently explain those remarkable efforts, but preservation of culture and educating succeeding generations might. We cannot in our time possibly imagine their raw experience of chaos, death and destruction - nay, the near-end of the whole world as they knew it! It must have been felt as an imperative beyond even anything that had ever come before in its importance. Without possession of any written language as such, they otherwise strained to devise the best possible method of transmission of the events into a near-perpetuity for cultural-event preservation. To try to recreate the experience for following generations that had not actually witnessed the comet impact and its consequences must have been a really tall order. GT was much more than an homage to sky-gods - it was a religious university in stone. The telling and retelling of the cometary events almost certainly used the lithic textbooks again and again. They saw the preservation of the memory of the events as even more important than their own personal existences. Or perhaps better said - their existences and those of future generations absolutely depended on the accurate transmission of the Great Terrible Event, its memory and its worship. In future GT excavations if it becomes apparent that some of the pillars are of different ages of construction (very likely IMHO), I think we should be able to begin to tease out evidence of subsequent commentary by generations that did not witness the events. Even slight differences between pillar ages should be able to illuminate critical sensibilities of the changing moments in this extraordinary culture. The enormous footprint of the GT area has to suggest multiple generations of stone-carving.

    Another thought - it is certainly also possible that the bi-annual Taurid meteor events were for multiple generations back then many, many times more intense and frightening than the "go backly tepidly" flaming dust grains we moderns now experience. Perhaps the "memory" of the YD event was celebrated (and cosmic forces appeased) twice-annually during actual fearsome sky-events that ever-threatened to erupt again to world-destroying chaos. Any future archeological finds suggesting apotropaic magic and/or sacrificial appeasement would be a very important adjunct to the study of the clearly-remarkable GT culture.

  7. Did you know that the local people were still going to that hill (before the digging started) every equinox and brought food and celebrated together? I found that interesting. Sometimes, finding out local customs, and what the local people know will go a long way towards figuring out the intention of these things.

    1. Ha, no did not! Interesting, I wonder what the local folklore reveals?

  8. What if the builders were anticipating a likely demise and leaving an epitaph. This could mean the filling of the site was from material falling after the event, not put there by the builders. Thanks for your work.

  9. Dr. Sweatman, considering your detailed zodiac analysis, I wonder if you came across these 2 books by Gangadhar Tilak from around 1900. Tilak considers asterisms earlier than today's. His archaeoastronomy, linguistic knowledge is profound.

    Arctic Home in the Vedas


    The Orion or Researches Into the Antiquity of the Vedas


    There Page 100 shows the Orion asterism as an Antelope's head pierced by an arrow.
    Detailed discussion of what the Vedas preserved from Arctic times, including precession. Maybe, just maybe, catastrophic events also....

    No idea yet if these early asterisms might match Gobekli Tepe"s which was not known about in 1900.

    1. To be clear, Vedas Sanskrit is a late development, when oral tradition was written down. That tradition can be dated to millennia before with astronomical details. As Homer said when writing first in the new Greek alphabet, that was a two-edged sword - the honored singers of epic tales who had methods to preserve accuracy, lost their presence.

      That looks like that at some point people developed sung tradition with techniques that made stone memoirs or secret caves redundant. People could carry the story/song with them. This is before writing. Tilak shows this was carried through many generations.
      The irony in this case as Tilak shows, the Hindu feast celebrations precisely followed today actually match an Arctic calendar of millennia previously.

    2. Hi, I know almost nothing about this. However, in general I think we can expect myth and religion to encode some catastrophic events from our history, and information on astronomy, precession etc. It would be interesting to know how the Vedas compare to Abrahamic traditions.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Younger Dryas impact review paper accepted for publication in Earth-Science Reviews