First Pictorial Representation of Gobekli Tepe Found
A Matter of Orientation
The appearance of the pecked soul hole between the twin pillars on the carved bone plaque found at Göbekli Tepe only intensifies the already heated debate over the direction of orientation of its main enclosures. The existence of the soul hole stones in Enclosures C and D, the fact that the carved relief on their twin central monoliths faces the entrant approaching from the south, along with the southerly placed entrances into the enclosures, all strongly indicate that these prehistoric cult structures were aligned towards the north (see fig. 9).
Fig. 9. Plan of Göbekli Tepe’s main enclosures showing their orientations (picture credit: Rodney Hale).
Some researchers of the ancient mysteries field have chosen to ignore these data and announce that the twin central pillars of key enclosures at Göbekli Tepe are directed south, their twin central monoliths aligned to target the rising of either the three belt stars of Orion (Schoch, 2014, 54-55) or the bright star Sirius (Magli, 2014). However, not only have these alignments been shown to be either dramatically flawed or, in the case of Orion, non-existent (Collins, 2014, 77-80; Collins and Hale, 2014), but there are far better reasons to assume northerly orientations of key enclosures at Göbekli Tepe.
Both the mean azimuths of the twin central pillars in Enclosures C and D, along with the positioning of the soul hole stones, target the setting of the bright star Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus on the north-northwest horizon during the epoch of their construction, ca. 9500-8900 BC (Collins, 2014, 80-82, and see fig. 10).
Fig. 10 The alignment through the holed stone in Göbekli Tepe’s Enclosure D towards the Cygnus star Deneb (picture credit: Rodney Hale).
The stars of Cygnus sit astride the Milky Way, exactly where it bifurcates or forks to create two separate streams known as the Dark Rift or Cygnus Rift (see fig. 11). This area of the sky has long been seen as an entrance to the sky-world, and seems even to be depicted within the ice age cave art at Lascaux in Southern France, created by Solutrean artists ca. 16,000 BC (Rappenglück, 1999).
Fig. 11. The Cygnus constellation as the celestial swan flying along the Milky Way by English astronomer John Flamsteed (1646-1719).
It thus makes sense why the Göbekli builders might have orientated key enclosures north towards this already ancient entrance to the Upper World, where access to the Milky Way – long seen as the river, road or path along which souls reached the afterlife – was located.
A northerly orientation towards the soul hole stones in the main enclosures at Göbekli Tepe is now supported by the discovery of the bone plaque displayed at Sanliurfa Museum. The manner in which its carved imagery clearly implies that the entrant’s eyes are drawn towards the soul hole, like those seen in Enclosures C and D, bears out this supposition, and supports the likelihood that the Milky Way, and in particular the Dark Rift and Cygnus stars, were of primary importance to the beliefs and practices of the Göbekli builders.
This conclusion is, however, challenged by journalist and ancient mysteries writer Graham Hancock in his new book Magicians of the Gods. He states that a northerly orientation of the main enclosures towards the stars of Cygnus would have been impossible as “Enclosure D is built into the side of the steep ridge of the Tepe that rises to the north of the main group of enclosures (Hancock, 2015, 331).” However, this is not so. The occupational mound, which is 15 metres in height, and 300 by 200 metres in extent, is entirely artificial, each layer being built up on the level bedrock in order that younger structures might be placed one on top of the other (see figs. 12 & 13).
Fig. 12. The compacted infill behind Göbekli Tepe’s Enclosure D. Credit: Andrew Collins.
Fig. 13. Overhead image of Göbekli Tepe showing the position of main enclosures (A, B, C & D) overlaid with contours showing the height and extent of the occupational mound (picture credit: Google Earth/Rodney Hale).
Obviously, whether or not other features, such as earlier structures and monuments, might have impeded the view between the enclosures seen today and the northern horizon remains to be determined. This data will only come from future excavations at the site. Right now the tiny bone plaque found at Göbekli Tepe is compelling evidence that those who came here during its heyday gazed beyond the enclosures’ twin central pillars towards the northerly placed holed stones in order to orientate their ritualistic activities.