GÖBEKLI TEPE AND THE RISING OF SIRIUS
and Rodney HALE
Göbekli Tepe consists of a series of stone enclosures built during the Early Holocene on an isolated mountaintop plateau in southeast Anatolia (Turkish Asia Minor). Speculation has mounted regarding the possible orientation of these monuments with respect to stellar targets, with the rising of Sirius (
CMa A) being proposed as the primary focus of three key monuments— Enclosures B, C & D. The authors demonstrate that such a conclusion is thwart with problems, due to Sirius’s faint appearance and unsuitability as a stellar marker during the epoch of construction at Göbekli Tepe.
Key words: Göbekli Tepe, Giulio Magli, archaeoastronomy, Sirius, Orion, Cygnus, atmospheric extinction, aerosols, diurnal arcs, Pre-Pottery Neolithic, Deneb.
1. Author of
From the Ashes of Angels
The Cygnus Mystery
Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods (
2014). 2. Chartered engineer MIET.
is perhaps the most enigmatic discovery in archaeology for a long time—a series of megalithic structures constructed primarily by a hunter-gatherer society who thrived in the northernmost extension of the Fertile Crescent in the Early Holocene. The stone structures are located in a layered occupational mound (Arabic
situated at a height of approximately 780 m above sea level on an isolated mountain ridge at the western termination of the Ante-Taurus range ( 37.2083° N, 38.9167° E ), some 15 km northeast of the city of Sanlıurfa in southeast Anatolia. Excavations under the auspice of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and Museum of Sanliurfa, and headed by Professor Klaus Schmidt of the University of Heidelberg, have taken place since 1995 and are ongoing today (see Schmidt 2012). An estimated ten percent of the
has now been investigated, with four main enclosures and a large number of other structures being revealed. Two types of structure are seen, one evolving from the other. The earliest enclosures, built c. 9500-8500 BC (Layer III, which corresponds to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period—PPNA), originally incorporated twin monoliths with T-shaped terminations set up parallel to each other (see Fig. 1). Around them are
circles, or more correctly ellipses, of slightly smaller, standing stones (1.5—3 m in size), which are generally T-shaped in appearance and decorated with carved art showing zoomorphic forms and/or anthropomorphic features. These are arranged in a starburst fashion, their front narrow faces turned towards the center of the enclosure. They are set in stonewalls, which often incorporate stone benches (see Fig. 2).
Fig. 1. Twin central pillars in Enclosure D.
Later structures, built c. 8500-8000 BC (Layer II, which corresponds to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period—PPNB) are rectilinear in form and much smaller in size. They also contain T-shaped pillars, although here the stones, some of which are decorated, are reduced in size to no more than 1—1.5 m. No evidence of domestic activity has been found at Göbekli Tepe, leading to