Klaus Schmidt used to grub around in caves in his native Germany in the hope of finding prehistoric paintings. Thirty years later, as a member of the German Archaeological Institute, he found something infinitely more important: a temple complex almost twice as old as anything comparable.
“This place is a supernova,” said Mr. Schmidt, standing under a lone tree on a windswept hilltop 35 miles north of the Syrian border.
“Within a minute of first seeing it, I knew I had two choices: go away and tell nobody, or spend the rest of my life working here.”
Behind him are the first folds of the Anatolian Plateau. Ahead, the Mesopotamian plain, like a dust-colored sea, stretches south hundreds of miles to Baghdad and beyond. The stone circles of Gobekli Tepe, his workplace since 1994, are just in front, hidden under the brow of the hill.
Compared with Stonehenge, they are humble affairs. None of the circles that have been excavated, four out of an estimated 20, is more than 100 feet across. Two of the slender, T-shaped pillars tower at least three feet above their peers.
What makes them remarkable are the carved reliefs of boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions that cover them, and their age. Dated at about 9500 B.C., these stones are 5,500 years older than the first cities of Mesopotamia and 7,000 years older than Stonehenge.
Nevermind wheels or writing, the people who erected them did not even have pottery or domesticated wheat. They lived in villages, but were hunters, not farmers…
While I am usually sceptical about what’s inside the pages of The Washington Times, this is the real deal. What I don’t understand is how archeologists have determined that the people who built these monuments/religious carvings didn’t practice agriculture? Is it because the estimated age of the site pre-dates ‘mainstream’ dates of when agriculture started and the culture who built these structures were ‘assumed’ to be hunter/gatherers? Or did they actually do some science and test around the area, other than to say there weren’t any houses in evidence?
It would be great if another site like that popped up in Central Europe, only a little older. Michael Tsarion would love it! So would I.
Archaeological studies on some engravings on rocks on Khark Island have identified them as a compass and ancient game boards.
The engravings are between 2000 and 3000 years old, archaeologist Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi, who conducted the recently concluded studies, told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.
The compass has been etched in rectangular form with rounded angles on a flat rock located on the ground beside an ancient route, Moradi Ghiasabadi explained. A curve has been engraved on the upper half and four lines forming a cross stretch to the four sides of the rectangular shape, he noted.
The lines have been placed in a position to determine the cardinal points and have only two degrees of error based on the Global Positioning System (GPS), he added.
The compass has been damaged in some parts because it appears to have been severed from a larger rock in a collapse.
“It is a unique discovery in Iran and a great effort should be made to safeguard it because we must not relocate it due to its use in positioning,” Moradi Ghiasabadi noted.
Iran is another ancient nation like Iraq was. Say what you want, “the British created Iran and Iraq after WWI after the break-up of the Ottoman Empire”, yadda-yadda-yadda. Whatever. The point is the region was touted as the beginning of our civilization at one time, now it’s a geopolitical hot-zone with oil as the prize, cultural history be damned. One country has been destroyed and another has been in the gun-sights for a while. It does seem awfully timely for Iran to discover these ancient sites at these most precipitous times, but hey, if you’re into conspiracy theories and ancient history, this stuff is great!
Our great grandfathers called it Ta-Seti, Land of the Bow. They were referring to the area south of the First Cataract at Aswan, and the reason behind the name was the unparalleled skill its inhabitants demonstrated when using the bow as a method of arm. Those excellent bowmen were actually the Kushites.
At first, Egyptians, as back as the First Dynasty, would send expeditions to the area in pursuit of slaves as well as the exploration of new sites where copper and gold could be mined. Egyptian influence grew and by the Middle Kingdom, a series of strongholds and fortresses controlled the Nile at the Second Cataract. Their influence over the area grew further through the New Kingdom; Pharaoh Tuthmoses III marched as far south as the Fifth Cataract. But change is a question of time, and by the end of the New Kingdom, Kush began to rise.
Historians have universally agreed that King Alara unified Upper Nubia around 780 BC, declaring Napata (near Jabal Barrkal, Karima, North Sudan) the capital. The job was completed by his successor King Kashata when Lower Nubia joined the crown. Nubia had been united and Kashata claimed for himself the title Pharaoh. But that was not the end of it; following suit was Pharaoh Piye, better known in history as Pharaoh Piankhy, conqueror of Thebes and founder of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty, the dynasty of the Black Pharaohs.
Little is discussed about this ‘late’ period in ancient Egyptian history, probably because of the racial thing, but that’s only my guess. Mainstream archeologists won’t come out and say that specifically. But they do admit the intercession of the Nubian kings prevented the Assyrians and other outside invaders from taking the country over for one hundred years. And the Nubians went out of their way to honor the ancient traditions instead of wiping them out during their reign. It’s a shame they’re not recognised as they should be.