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Göbekli Tepe excavation site, Turkey

The Secret of Gobekli Tepe: Cosmic Equinox and Sacred Marriage - Part II

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Sun and moon iconography can be found on the impressive standing pillars of Göbeklitepe, the Neolithic temples that are among the most important archaeological sites of our time. Guest author Özgür Etli examines what messages the ancient builders might have been trying to impart to the people who used the temples, and what they might have also been trying to communicate to all of humanity.

Read Part I

It can be speculated that the “H” sign located above the sun-moon motif symbolizes male and female togetherness, or a god-goddess marriage in spring. Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt believes this motif symbolizes male and female. The standing position of the pillar also symbolizes “birth” or “rebirth”, as mentioned previously.

The center pillars at Göbeklitepe depict the “H” and sun-moon signs

The center pillars at Göbeklitepe depict the “H” and sun-moon signs

Well, do we know this type of sacred god-goddess marriage in ancient history? In which culture or civilization do we see such a god-goddess togetherness? The first thing coming to mind is of course the sacred marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumerian civilization.

Inanna and Dumuzi

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of fertility and love, dominant in the sky and on earth. She provided the power of renewal and reproduction to both humans and nature. Poets wrote numerous stories about her. Most famous of them is undoubtedly the tale of the sacred marriage of goddess Inanna and shepherd Dumuzi, also called Tammuz.

In Sumer, food and survival was dependent upon the yield of soil. According to the Sumerians, that was said to be supplied by virility. Sumerians named this power “ water of heart”. For the Göbeklitepe community, harvesting of produce and fertility of soil were extremely vital. In that period human communities had just begun an agricultural way of life, or would begin shortly.

Dumuzi’s or Tammuz’s intercourse with his wife was believed to bring fertility to the earth. At the end of this intercourse, all plants would bloom, animals would mate and produce offspring, and so fertility would become evident. Therefore, this event was accepted as the beginning of the new year.

Did the fertility gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt and Sumer first appear at Neolithic Gobekli Tepe?

Did the fertility gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt and Sumer first appear at Neolithic Gobekli Tepe?

Stele featuring Egyptian and foreign gods: Min, fertility god (Egypt), Qetesh, fertility goddess (Syria), and protective god Resheph (Egypt). Wikimedia Commons

Sumerians reenacted this sacred intercourse as a royal ritual and a state occasion by giving in marriage to king of the country a high ranking woman of their holy temple. Each year they organized festivals surrounding the occasion. In these ceremonies, the high ranking woman would portray the goddess, and the king stood for the god.

According to Sumerologist Muazzez İlmiye Çığ, this ceremony was the origin of modern-day hıdrellez (celebration of spring) festivals that are held at equinox time in Turkey [2]. The name of Dumuzi was given to the month of July, in Turkish Temmuz. Inanna and Dumuzi also were symbolized on Sumerian artworks: they hug each other and are portrayed laying down.


A detail of the 1505 AD statue by Andrea Mantegna depicting the introduction of the worship of Cybele to the Romans in 204 AD.

A detail of the 1505 AD statue by Andrea Mantegna depicting the introduction of the worship of Cybele to the Romans in 204 AD. (Wikimedia Commons)

In Anatolia, the cult of fertility is known as of Cybele. Cybele was known as the mother of god. She was believed to be goddess of the moon as well [6]. It was believed fertility came to earth at the pleasure of Cybele, and she required a husband for marriage - this was god Attis. Attis is thought to die in Autumn, and after is reborn again in spring like Dumuzi.

The yield of produce and fertility of the soil was thought to depend on the happiness of goddess Cybele. Cybele was believed to give birth to spring. Her very fertility allowed the soil to produce well. For this reason, some sacrifices were given to Cybele from time to time. Men sought to ensure the fertility of the soil by making a self-sacrifice. According to Halikarnas Balıkçısı, this adoration to the goddess was a very ancient practice, from far-reaching prehistory. He believed that these cults of a mother goddess were quite widespread in Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent [5].

The goddess Cybele

The goddess Cybele (Wikimedia Commons)

In archaeological research, numerous double-headed figurines have been found belonging to various periods in Anatolia. These figurines are called twin-goddesses. According to scholar and scientist Cevat Şakir, ( Halikarnas Balıkçısı), these figures symbolize the goddess and her husband [5].

Seemingly, earth mothers have been venerated since the first eras of civilization. Fertility of soil had vital importance for the steadiness of life. For that matter, death, birth and rebirth concepts should have been be the most important at the initial periods of our human civilization. Therefore, we can consider that Sumerian sacred marriage ceremonies were also performed in Göbeklitepe temples, the starting point for our human civilization.

According to Klaus Schmidt's opinion, Göbeklitepe culture could have affected the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations. In that case, by turning the clock back, we should see established cultural Sumerian elements in Göbeklitepe neolithic culture as well.

Can we speculate that the sun-moon symbol, or the sacred meeting of sun and moon, depicted on center pillar of Temple D represents equinox time and the beginning of spring? With various findings and proof we can.

This Kün-ay (sun-moon) sign might symbolize the rebirth of soil in spring and the resuscitation of nature. As rebirth is symbolized with the sacred marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumer, then perhaps the male and female inscription just above the sun-moon symbol on the pillar may symbolize the man-woman or god-goddess togetherness. That is to say, it may represent Inanna and Dumuzi. The circular formation of Temple D might also reflect the life-death-rebirth cycle.


At the center of Temple D we see two pillars as mentioned previously. These pillars can be seen as symbolizing birth, as the standing position of the pillars are same as Inanna's. Hands on omphalos (navel) can be seen on both. Maybe the fact that there are two of them hints at the origin of the cult of Cybele. This pair of pillars should be the first samples of gods and goddesses in human history. Perhaps these two pillars symbolize the twin goddesses. In addition to this, the second center pillar which has no sun-moon sign includes a bucranium symbol, as Schmidt notes [8]. Bull or taurus symbols were seen as a symbol of fertility and productivity since the beginning of civilization. In my opinion this sign represents the uterus of earth mother, again meaning of fertility and productivity.

Bucrania. Garlanded bucrania (bull symbolism) on a frieze from the Samothrace temple complex.

Bucrania. Garlanded bucrania (bull symbolism) on a frieze from the Samothrace temple complex. Wikimedia Commons

Pillar 2 from Enclosure A (Layer III) with low reliefs of what are believed to be a bull, fox, and crane. Gobekli Tepe, Urfa.

Pillar 2 from Enclosure A (Layer III) with low reliefs of what are believed to be a bull, fox, and crane. Gobekli Tepe, Urfa. Wikimedia Commons

When all of this evidence is combined, it’s difficult to call it coincidence. It is apparent that the origin of fertility cults of Anatiolian and Mesopotamian civilizations can be first seen in Göbeklitepe culture.

Considering that male-female signs represent Inanna and Dumuzi, sun-moon signs represent the  beginning of spring, the rebirth of nature and hand positions on pillar represent birth and rebirth, it is clearly revealed that the cosmic equinox and sacred marriage ceremonies could well have been celebrated through rituals in Göbeklitepe first.

Maybe we have solved the Göbeklitepe puzzle, and learned what the ancient world wanted us to know.

Featured image: Göbekli Tepe excavation site, Turkey. Wikimedia Commons

Some Images provided by Özgür Etli.


[1] Burns, C., “The Hidden Secrets Of The Eastern Star”, 1994.

[2] Çığ, M. İ., “İnanna'nın Aşkı: Sumer'de İnanç ve Kutsal Evlenme”, 9th ed., Istanbul, 2014.

[3] Esin, E., “Türk Kozmolojisi'ne Giriş”, Istanbul, 2001.

[4] Etli, Ö. B., “Dünyanın İlk Gözlemevi: Göbeklitepe Tapınağı”, Popüler Bilim Journal, Vol: 229, 2014.

[5] Halikarnas Balıkçısı, “Altıncı Kıta Akdeniz”, 5th ed., Ankara, 2007.

[6] Halikarnas Balıkçısı, “Anadolu Tanrıları”, 10th ed., Ankara, 2010.

[7] Plegge, J., “Turkish Stonehenge: Göbeklitepe”, 2012.

[8] Schmidt, K., “Göbekli Tepe: En Eski Tapınağı Yapanlar”, Istanbul, 2006.

By Ozgur Baris Etli



I have been puzzled all my life why early and primitive people invented the concept of a DIvine Being. I mean...they hunted, they fished, and later they farmed. Now we are told that it is believed Neanderthals also had a version of a God concept. Why did these people sit around the fire and give credit to unknown entities for the warmth and the food they ate when, in fact, all such was the result of their own hard work?

Sir, I gather that modern-day Turks entered the nation of Turkey, from Central Asia within the last two millennia or less. May I presume that everyone means the people living around Gobekli Tepe much longer ago?

Ozgur's picture

Dear Farang,

Actually, this article is mainly about the origin of Sumerian culture not Egyptian. But of course it is also related with Egyptian culture. Maybe you may write an article about Egyptian – Gobekli Tepe connection. Then we can learn many things about this relation. Your arguments should be appraised.

Thanks for your contribution.





It is reassuring to see scientist finally realize what I have been saying for a long time: "myths" are rooted in ancient history. ANCESTOR WORSHIP.

This article asks if the ancient Egyptian gods first appeared at Gobekli Tepe? Well, yes, and I so stated when the first images of Gobkli Tepe appeared: SAME VULTURE IMAGES. No to mention that the Egyptian "Zep Tepe" name for the "center of creation" in Egypt.

Egypt was settled by the "double-axe" Mother Goddess culture from Anatolia, via Ionia (Yoni tribes).

Do a search of "double axe cultures of Anatolia and Egypt", you'll find they spread to Crete (Minoan) and way beyond, in the unknowable ancient times. A famous Hittite king is depicted holding the double-axe, and all of these cultures also had the Vulture icons.

Ancestor Worship: Dummuzi/Tammuz is Thomas, the Twin. Brother of "Jesus"...note well the resurrection link between Inanna/Dummuzi and "Jesus."

"Christianity" did NOT evolve from "Judaism." Judaism evolved from the Indo-Aryan mythology of Ugarit, with it's "sacrificial scapegoat" cult. FACT. Indo-Aryan myth already had the "resurrection" cult: Reincarnation. Egypt, starting in the pre-dynatic period, were worshiping Vedic/Hindu gods. FACT.

"Narmer" is Naram-Simha, an avatar of VishNu. The "Catfish king" is VishNu as "Matsya" the fish.

One can confirm with one's own eyes these facts by looking closely and with a sharp eye at the "Narmer pallette": it is a visual recreation of a famous Indo-Aryan myth. Has images of VishNu as Catfish. As the "Shavista" the icon of Shiva. Has "Narmer" wearing a lion's tail....he is half-man/half-lion avatar of VishNu.

Now, go inform Egyptologist "experts" you have some news for them and their "mysterious" Catfish king....see the ten beheaded evil kings at Narmer's feet?


Ozgur's picture

Dear Steven,

Thank you. Origin of Greek Mythology can be also found in Gobeklitepe. For instance, 12 pillars around 2 center pillars may be the origin of 12 gods of Olympos. Who knows. Gobeklitepe temples are also located at the peak of mount as Olympos. I believe that history has its continuum. On the other hand, in my opinion (H) sign symbolizes “cosmic soul” or “cosmic human” which is very close to your argument.






Ozgur's picture

Ozgur Baris Etli

I'm Ozgur Baris Etli, was born in EskiÅŸehir, Turkey. I have completed both my undergraduate and master programme on Astronomy and Space Sciences at Ege University, Ä°zmir, Turkey. My undergraduate thesis were about exoplanets and master thesis about searching bio-molecules in... Read More

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