Animals in the symbolic world of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey: a preliminary assessment

Institut für Paläoanatomie und Geschichte der Tiermedizin, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Kaulbachstraße 37, D-80539 München (Germany)

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient-Abteilung, Podbielskiallee 69-71, D-14195 Berlin (Germany)

Peters J. & Schmidt K. 2004. – Animals in the symbolic world of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey: a preliminary assessment. Anthropozoologica 39 (1) : 179-218.

KEY WORDS Turkey, SE Anatolia, megalithic art, PPNA, animal symbolism, archaeofauna.

ABSTRACT The recently discovered Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Göbekli Tepe (SETurkey) is unparalleled in its architecture and art. The latter is particularly rich in animal depictions — stone figurines, sculptures and megalithic pillars decorated with bas-reliefs — and illustrates the prominent role animals played in the spiritual world of PPN human groups frequenting the site. Up to now, ten vertebrate taxa could be identified, nine of which also appeared in the archaeofaunal record of the site. Discussion focussed upon the possible role of the animal species figured at Göbekli Tepe, in particular whether the space demarcated by the pillars could have witnessed the performance of hunting rituals, initiation and passage rites, spiritual encounters or funeral practices. In view of our limited knowledge about the role animals played in the symbolic world of the PPN, in particular with respect to the logic and metaphysics governing the choice of species, the question of what purpose the enclosures served will take much more time to be properly answered.

ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) © Publications Scientifiques du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris.


Peters J. & Schmidt K.

MOTS CLÉS Turquie, Anatolie du Sud-Est, art mégalithique, PPNA, symbolisme animal, archéofaune.

RÉSUMÉ Les animaux dans le monde symbolique du PPNB de Göbekli Tepe, Turquie du Sud-Est : première évaluation. Le site néolithique PPNB de Göbekli Tepe (Sud-Est de la Turquie), récemment mis au jour, présente une architecture et un art sans pareils. L’art est particulièrement riche en représentations animales — figurines en pierre, sculptures et piliers mégalithiques décorées en bas-relief — et montre le rôle important joué par les animaux dans le monde spirituel de groupes humains PPN fréquentant le site. Jusqu’ici dix taxons de vertébrés ont été identifiés, dont neuf sont aussi présents dans l’archéofaune du site. Le débat porte sur le rôle éventuel des espèces animales figurées à Göbekli Tepe, en particulier à savoir si l’espace démarqué par les piliers a pu être témoin de rituels de chasse, d’initiation et rites de passage, de rencontres spirituelles ou de pratiques funèbres. Étant donné notre connaissance limitée concernant le rôle joué par les animaux dans le monde symbolique du PPN, en particulier par rapport à la logique et à la métaphysique gouvernant le choix des espèces, il faudra du temps pour résoudre la question relative à la fonction des enclos.

INTRODUCTION The transformation from a (semi-)mobile hunter-forager way of life into the highly productive and successful system of crop-livestock farming was a lengthy and complex process, triggered, among other things, by the establishment of (semi-)sedentary communities, a move that reflects the degree of control exerted by a human group over a particular territory and its resources (Cauvin 1979, 1997; Bar-Yosef 2000). In the northern Fertile Crescent, the appearance of such communities dates to the 11th millennium cal. BC. Based on the work at Tell Mureybet (Fig. 1) and related sites by the late Jacques Cauvin — to whom this contribution is dedicated —, it could be demonstrated that in the following millennia, the Euphrates drainage area witnessed not only considerable demographic growth but also an increase in socio-cultural complexity, as reflected by settlement size and architecture. Sites dating to the (second half of the) 10th and the 9th millennium cal. BC, e.g., Jerf el Ahmar, Dja’de, Tell Cheikh Hassan, Çayönü Tepesi, Nevalı Çori, are characterised by spatial division of residential and

specialised workshop areas as well as by the growing importance given to open courtyards as communal space (Cauvin 1977, 1997; Hauptmann 1993; Rosenberg et al. 1995; Özdo˘ an and Özdo˘ an 1998; Schmidt 1998a, b, g g 2000; Stordeur 1999, 2000). Since 1995, members of the Museum of Ș anlıurfa and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) have been carrying out archaeological research at the PPN site of Göbekli Tepe. Located on top of a hill (c. 800 m asl), the site is unique because of its impressive architecture and highly diverse yet unparalleled set of objects depicting animals, ranging from small stone figurines through sculptures and statues of animals to representations on megaliths (BeileBohn et al. 1998; Hauptmann 1999, 2002; Hauptmann and Schmidt 2001; Schmidt 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003; Schmidt and Hauptmann 2003). Although the site is only partly excavated, it is not unlikely that the finds from Göbekli Tepe may contribute to our understanding of the transition from a subsistence pattern based upon hunting and foraging at the end of the Pleistocene to the appearance of agriculture and

Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey)

FIG. 1. – Map with location of major sites mentioned in the text.



Peters J. & Schmidt K.

animal husbandry in the course of the Early Holocene (Peters et al. in press). In this contribution, we will focus on the site’s animal iconography associated with the megalithic architecture. An overview of the taxa depicted will be presented and the information compared with our present knowledge about the PPN faunal record of the region. Discussion will centre on the possible meaning(s) of the site’s diverse but enigmatic iconography. THE PPN ENCLOSURES AND THEIR ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTENTS Architecture at Göbekli Tepe is distinctive (Fig. 2), consisting of larger curvilinear (probably PPNA) and smaller rectangular (late Early/early Middle PPNB) structures with megaliths in the form of T-shaped stone pillars (Beile-Bohn et al. 1998; Schmidt 1999, 2001). The monoliths from the curvilinear structures stand 3 to 5 m high, weigh up to 10 tons and have been positioned in a symmetrical arrangement (Figs 3-5). The pillars from the overlying PPNB levels (= Layer II) are decidedly smaller in size, averaging about 1.5 m. Similar-sized monoliths were first discovered at Early-Middle PPNB Nevalı Çori (Fig. 6; Hauptmann 1993, 1999; Schmidt 1998a, b). However, whereas the outline of some pillars at Nevalı Çori resembles the Greek letter Γ, typical Γ-shaped pillars have not been found at Göbekli Tepe, though the horizontal part of a pillar may occasionally exhibit a strong asymmetry (Fig. 7). Of particular interest is the fact that on pillars at both sites, the vertical element sometimes shows a pair of arms and hands in bas-relief (Figs 4; 6). The T-shaped pillars thus seem to represent stylised anthropomorphic beings, the horizontal and vertical parts respectively being the head and body. On the same monoliths, parallel grooves have occasionally been noted, and this decoration probably refers to human clothing. As already mentioned, the T-shaped pillars discovered in Layer III have been purposely arranged

to form round or oval enclosures. Excavations revealed the presence of four such structures, each of them being delineated by a number of monoliths positioned symmetrically. The latter, which may number up to twelve (enclosure D), are interconnected by stone benches or walls (Figs 3-5). Two huge monoliths, the so-called twin pillars, dominate the centre of each enclosure (Figs 4; 5). They are, as a rule, larger than the surrounding pillars and of superior fabrication, i.e. their surface is extremely well prepared and they are always decorated. By the end of the 2002 excavation season, 37 pillars had been found in situ in Layer III, 22 of which have animal decorations in relief. During the Neolithic and for reasons unknown to us, PPN settlement refuse was deliberately dumped onto Göbekli Tepe’s megalithic architecture which, as a result, was sealed and protected until its discovery in the mid-1990s. This refuse (= Layer III) yielded an impressive amount of stone material, in particular flint tools reflecting a broad typological spectrum and waste products. Animal remains are also abundant (Table 1), whereas remains of plants, e.g., carbonised cereals, pulses or wood, are extremely scarce. Based on the nature of the deposits excavated and the typology of the lithic industry present, the “allochthonous” filling material probably came from a late/final PPNA refuse dump. This is in accordance with two 14C-dates obtained on cereal remains from these deposits, i.e. 9559 ± 53 BP (or 9163-8744 cal. BC – 2σ; Hd 20036) and 9452 ± 73 BP (or 9136-8986 cal BC – 2σ; Hd 20025) (Kromer and Schmidt 1998). An approximate date for the burying of the megaliths comes from a PPNB soil (Layer II) overlying the filling (Layer III) of enclosure D. This soil has been dated to 8880 ± 60 BP (or 8240-7780 cal. BC 2σ; Pustovoytov pers. comm. 2003). Pedogenic carbonate coatings on wall stones of enclosures B and C produced somewhat younger dates, i.e. 8960 ± 85 BP (c. 8300-7800 cal. BC 2σ; Ua 19562) and 8430 ± 80 BP (c. 7600-7200 cal. BC 2σ; Ua 19561; Pustovoytov 2002, 2003), but this is not contradictory because carbonate coatings will only develop after soil formation has taken place. All in all these 14C

Felis silvestris Leopard. Cape hare. Since the curvilinear architecture at ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . P30) or in groups of 12 and more animals moving parallel to each other so as to form a kind of wave pattern (Fig. Sus scrofa Red deer. BC at the latest.). No doubt. Bos primigenius Goitred gazelle. 11). Central area. The post-Neolithic Layer I consists of accumulations resulting from natural erosion and sedimentation processes due to agricultural practices in post-medieval times. Nesokia indica Jird. in small groups of three. They are generally shown in toto in a (semi-)naturalistic style. representations on the T-shaped pillars essentially show animals in relief. given the enormous amount of “recycled” debris. 18 pillars have been found. e. Representations of snakes are mainly located on the small. Mustela nivalis Marbled polecat. Ovis orientalis Ovis/Capra. 183 dates suggest that the filling of the megalithic architecture took place in the 8th millennium cal. SYNOPSIS OF THE ANIMALS REPRESENTED Apart from some enigmatic symbols which recall the pictograms found at Jerf el Ahmar (Helmer et al. one at each end of the body and looking in opposite directions. Cricetulus migratorius Indian gerbil. Only in two cases do we find snake representations on the back side of a pillar (P6 and P14. The snakes depicted are thick. the primary dump cannot have been too far away. short animals with flattened triangular heads (Fig. Several highly venomous vipers are known to occur in the Urfa region. Mammalian fauna. These reptiles generally appear either single (Fig. Occasionally we are dealing with bucrania or even more abstract depictions. it is even possible that the PPNA filling material comes from the sites where the Göbekli people once used to live.g. mainly red fox. Vulpes vulpes Weasel.. Their shape corresponds to that observed in vipers. why people decided to abandon this architectural complex. an individual with two heads. Hemiechinus auritus Wolf. As said. mainly (if not exclusively) mouflon European souslik. snakes are the most common motif (Table 2). Based on similar standing stones found at other sites. Until now. the most common being the Levantine viper. Cervus dama mesopotamica Aurochs. Meles meles Wild cat. Vipera lebetina. – Göbekli Tepe. On one occasion. 10). this vol. these monoliths likely date to the PPNB. while one represents the Nevalı Çori type with human arms and hands. MAMMALS Long-eared hedgehog. Equus hemionus Wild boar. Meriones sp. or from where exactly within the site catchment the refuse covering the structures originated. Gazella subgutturosa Mouflon. Only two of them exhibit animal representations. Many important questions. frontal face of the pillars (Figs 10. Canis lupus Fox. mainly Asiatic wild ass.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) T ABLE 1. Excavations 1996-2001. Lepus capensis TOTAL IDENTIFIED MAMMALS UNIDENTIFIED MAMMALS TOTAL MAMMALIAN REMAINS *NISP = Number of identified specimens. top). Cervus elaphus Mesopotamian fallow deer. 8. Panthera pardus Equid(s). has been found (P30). 9. below the cranes). Spermophilus citellus Grey hamster. however. four or five individuals (P1. At Göbekli Tepe. NISP* 5 5 971 2 1 1 21 1 1177 863 170 3 2574 7949 293 944 1 1 69 33 1 386 15471 23233 38704 Göbekli Tepe suggests a PPNA age for the enclosures A to D. Vormela peregusna Eurasian badger. cannot be answered for the moment. the pillars found in Layer II are decidedly smaller than those found in Layer III. Tatera indica Short-tailed bandicoot-rat.

Interestingly.Peters J. On two occasions foxes occur together with wild cattle. for example with aurochs and crane (P2) or aurochs and snake (P1. One limestone slab (C29) shows a wild boar in an upside down position (Fig. at Çatal Hüyük (Mellaart 1967.. e. this vol.. a situation observed at Neolithic Çatal Hüyük (Mellaart 1967). It is not clear whether the upside-down position of the animal resulted from the secondary use of the slab or whether this was done deliberately. the object depicted seem to represent a kind of “net” made up of 17 snakes. 14) is paralleled by other findings : Of the four wild boar sculptures hitherto found. Unequivocal evidence for the presence of felines (2 individuals) comes from Layer II pillars. The carnivore muzzle visible on P22 (enclosure D) suggests that the iconography of layer III included large felines.). three have been discovered in enclosure C. Some quadrupeds on limestone slabs possibly represent felines (Helmer et al. Interestingly. 13). Tell Halula (Saña Segui 1999) and Jerf el Ahmar (Helmer et al. the snakes move in a downward direction. 8) probably illustrates a confrontation between a snake and an aurochs — the latter apparently “kneels down” as if to “surrender” —. Based on the triangular form of its endings. e. The “line” above the bucranium could imply that in reality.g. 8 animals oriented upwards and 9 downwards (Fig. 13). A29 and A34 (Fig. Hallan Çemi Tepesi (Rosenberg et al. B. depictions of snakes are found in three enclosures (A. These canids are depicted either single or in combination with other species. Despite its incompleteness. the alignment of the limestone slabs recalls door frame constructions known from megalithic burrows of later periods. this vol. and one in enclosure A (A15). namely A25 (Fig. 20). P20). ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . 16). it can be postulated that brown bear also figured among the taxa depicted. & Schmidt K. To the depictions of snakes may be added an enigmatic relief found at the eastern (broad) face of P1. other carnivores are represented at Göbekli Tepe. and the fact that the paws present five toes.). this vol. fox and crane on P2 (Fig. moreover. Besides foxes. A number of statues of large carnivores tentatively identified as felines may lend support to this assumption. or with another carnivore. The slab had been positioned upright in an area south of enclosure C and probably formed part of a door frame. the scene on P20 (Fig. Leopards. Bouqras (Clason 1999) and Tell ‘Abr (Helmer et al. its mouth opened in order to display its impressive tusks. both enclosure B). The presence of this species on the twin pillars P9 and P10 in enclosure B (Fig. P33). a bas-relief of a stylised aurochs bucranium has been found (Fig. Deposits of aurochs bucrania are described from different PPN sites. probably a feline (P22). the horizontal part of P11 probably suggests the presence of another large carnivore : From the proportions of the four extremities. whereas the role of the fox is unclear.). 12). including a most beautiful specimen on P12 (Fig. 18) and on the eastern anthropomor184 phic twin pillar of enclosure D clearly indicates its important role in PPN symbolism. where these reptiles seem to be replaced by wild boar. With few exceptions (P1. The omnipresence of wild boar on the T-shaped pillars of enclosure C (Figs 13. This naturalistic representation shows a male individual signalling its readiness to attack. 19) may reflect a sequence of symbols. 15). are found in other Neolithic contexts of the northern Fertile Crescent. P31 probably reflects a similar situation (Fig. the animal’s position might indicate a dead individual.g. with a second fox (P20). but it is possible that these monoliths have been re-positioned. which clearly characterize the animal as heavy. 2003). 1995). On P12 just below the wild boar is the head of a fox flashing its teeth (Fig. 12). D) but are absent until now in enclosure C. While the body proportions of these animals might suggest that we are dealing with lions. 17). On the small face of P2. the lack of a mane as well as a tuft at the tail makes an identification as leopard more likely. these items may have been fixed onto a ceiling or a wall. Six of seven reliefs of wild boars have been discovered here. If the latter applies. Foxes are another common motif at Göbekli Tepe (Table 2). While the triad aurochs.

2 1. Taxon/Enclosure Snakes* Fox Boar Crane Aurochs Wild sheep Asiatic wild ass Gazelle Leopard/Lion Brown bear Quadruped Pictogram** Unidentified TOTAL A 5 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 11 B 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 C 0 1 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 1? 0 1 5 14 D 14+2 (25) 8 1 4 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 12 3 48+2 (25) Total 23 12 7 5 3 2 1 1 1 1? 1 15 9 81 % 28. View from the south.2 1. ** Including the net-like object (snakes ?) and the three bucrania. – Göbekli Tepe. For statistical reasons.6 11. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI). but added the real number of individuals depicted in brackets.1 100. FIG.7 2.2 18.5 1.4 14. Photograph I.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) TABLE 2. Excavation area.2 1. Caveat : enclosures A to D not completely excavated. This strong coherence suggests that we are dealing with a unity.2 1.8 8.2 3.7 6. Animal depictions on the T-shaped pillars in enclosures A to D.0 * Sometimes a larger number of snakes (> 5) has been depicted in close association. 2. we decided to count such associations only once. Berlin. – Göbekli Tepe. Wagner. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 185 .

& Schmidt K.Peters J. FIG. 186 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . Berlin. 3. Schematic plan of excavated structures. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. – Göbekli Tepe.

5. – Göbekli Tepe. View from the north. Photograph I. Photograph I. Wagner. View from the north. Enclosure D. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 187 . © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. – Göbekli Tepe. Wagner. Enclosure B – Twin pillars. FIG.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. Berlin. 4. Berlin.

& Schmidt K. 6. Hauptmann. 188 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . Drawing courtesy H. – Nevalı Çori. Decorated pillar from the terrazzo building. FIG.Peters J.

Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Wagner. Enclosure D – P30. Berlin. View from the west. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 189 . 7. – Göbekli Tepe. Photograph I.

© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. – Göbekli Tepe. with snake. Enclosure D – P20.Peters J. FIG. & Schmidt K. Photograph I. Wagner. Berlin. View from the north. 8. 190 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . aurochs and fox.

– Göbekli Tepe. Berlin.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. Photograph I. Wagner. Enclosure D – P33. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. 9. with two cranes. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 191 . pictograms and lines representing snakes. View from the east.

© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Berlin. with snake. 192 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) .Peters J. FIG. – Göbekli Tepe. Photograph I. 10. Wagner. View from the west. Enclosure D – P22. & Schmidt K.

Photograph I. with snakes. Berlin. Wagner. Asiatic wild ass ?) and a pictogram. 11. View from the south. Enclosure D – P30. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 193 . © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. a quadruped (aurochs. – Göbekli Tepe.

© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. with net of « snakes”. Berlin.Peters J. 194 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . & Schmidt K. 12. – Göbekli Tepe. Enclosure A – P1. FIG. Photograph Ch. and P2 with Bos (?) bucranium. View from the east. and Wild sheep. Gerber.

Photograph D. Johannes. wild boar and fox (vertical part). with animals in landscape (?) (horizontal part). View from the south. Berlin. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 195 . – Göbekli Tepe. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. Enclosure C – P12. 13.

196 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Wagner. & Schmidt K. Berlin. 14. View from the southwest. with two wild boars. FIG.Peters J. Photograph I. – Göbekli Tepe. Enclosure C – P28.

Schmidt. Incomplete sculpture of a wild boar (A34). 15. Enclosure C. 16. Enclosure C. Wagner. Photograph K. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Berlin.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. Photograph I. FIG. Sculpture of a wild boar (A25). – Göbekli Tepe. excavated near P12. Berlin. excavated near P24. – Göbekli Tepe. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 197 .

Berlin. with wild boar in an upside down position (C29). Photograph K. Enclosure C – Entrance (?). FIG. – Göbekli Tepe.Peters J. View from the south. 198 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . 17. Schmidt. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. & Schmidt K.

18.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG. Enclosure B–P10. Berlin. with fox. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. View from the east. – Göbekli Tepe. Photograph I. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 199 . Wagner.

FIG. Gerber. 19. fox and crane. with wild cattle. – Göbekli Tepe. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Photograph Ch. & Schmidt K. View from the west. 200 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . Berlin.Peters J. Enclosure A – P2.

20. Enclosure D – P31. Berlin. Wagner. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. with Bos (?) bucranium. Photograph I. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 201 . View from the south. – Göbekli Tepe.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) FIG.

Wagner. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. 21. 202 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . Photograph I. – Göbekli Tepe. Enclosure D – P21. FIG.Peters J. & Schmidt K. Berlin. with goitred gazelle and Asiatic wild ass. View from the south.

Photograph D. Wagner. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Berlin. Berlin. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. collected from filling debris of layer II. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 203 . Sculpture of an unidentified short-legged quadruped (A35). 23. Johannes. – Göbekli Tepe. 22. Figurine of a vulture. FIG. Photograph I.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) F IG . – Göbekli Tepe.

Surface find. – A. 24. & Schmidt K. 204 ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . Ithyphallic protome (A2). B. FIG. Göbekli Tepe.Peters J.

ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) 205 . Berlin.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) Photograph M. © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Morsch.

Turdus sp. Grus grus Demoiselle crane. P38) (Figs 9. Conceivably. although relatively well preserved. To answer this question. Buteo rufinus Eagle. Asiatic wild ass can be recognised on P21 (Fig. e. In a second step. Strix aluco Song thrush. 1989/90) and Çatal Hüyük (Mellaart 2003.e. The Layer III excavations at Göbekli Tepe produced a rich faunal assemblage (von den Driesch & Peters 2001. Tadorna ferruginea Mallard. Turdus philomelos Thrush. Otis tarda Sandgrouse. Wild sheep or mouflon may be depicted on P1 (Fig. Pica pica Rook. Because of the seconda206 TABLE 3. Gyps fulvus Long-legged buzzard. 20 birds and 2 fish — could be recognised (Tables 1. Emberiza schoeniclus Total identified birds Unidentified birds Total bird remains FISH Silurus triostegus Unident. Excavations 1996-1998. Tawny owl. a comparison of the faunal spectrum presented by the bone refuse and the species list taken from the depictions will be highlighted (see Animal symbolism and hunting rituals). Within the randomly selected archaeological units that have been sieved systematically (1 mm mesh). – Göbekli Tepe. THE ARCHAEOFAUNA ASSOCIATED WITH THE ENCLOSURES One interpretation of the above list of species is that the space defined by the T-shaped pillars was intended for the performance of hunting rituals. BIRDS Greylag goose. in press). 19). Corvus monedula Reed bunting. The question arises whether the bone material in the fill between the monoliths originated from activities taking place within the boundaries of the enclosure itself. Representations of cranes are known in the Neolithic iconography from Bouqras (Clason. a closer look at the bone material is of crucial importance. 21). Corvus frugilegus Carrion crow. Pterocles sp. Chukar. taxonomic composition did not differ much from that observed in neighbouring units from which animal remains had been collected essentially by hand-picking. in other words whether the bones are leftovers from ritual activities. 3). Alectoris chukar Quail.. Besides aurochs and wild boar. it can be concluded that at least ten vertebrate taxa played a role in the symbolic world of PPNA Göbekli Tepe. as some finds may represent commensal species that lived and perANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . P33. Anser anser Ruddy shelduck. three other ungulate species have been depicted.and ichthyofauna. many representations. Unfortunately. Avi. late/final PPNA. 12) and P33. not all of the latter resulted from anthropogenic activities. Dating of the animal remains follows the lithic industry. except for a higher relative frequency of unidentified remains and an increased percentage of bones of (very) small vertebrates. 21) and probably also on P30. Corvus corone Jackdaw. three scenes involving five large birds which most probably represent cranes have been discovered at Göbekli Tepe (P2. Magpie. & Schmidt K. it was decided to sieve only part of the cultural debris. Cyprinid *NISP = Number of identified specimens. or whether they come from other contexts. 22). So far. Anas platyrhynchos Griffon vulture. Cape hare. i. From the foregoing. Coturnix coturnix Common crane. Anthropoides virgo Great bustard.g. Goitred gazelle is figured on P21 (Fig. central area. Up to now. are difficult to interpret taxonomically (Fig.Peters J. NISP* 1 1 1 1 1 3 2 1 6 2 7 1 1 2 5 2 4 10 8 1 60 5 65 1 1 ry nature of the deposits. rodents and Passeriforme birds. Peters et al. for a recent overview and interpretation see Russell & McGowan 2003). Aquila sp. 42 vertebrate taxa — 20 mammals.

which therefore will be underrepresented in the non-sieved samples. The presence of migratory species. undulating grassy hills with isolated stands of trees on the plateaus and mixed gallery forests along the water courses certainly better suited the ecological demands of Ovis than of Capra. walls and stone benches. Thus. but unequivocal morphological evidence is lacking. Bone fragments of members of the family Corvidae (crows) form the bulk of the material. (meta)tarsals). Peters et al. wild boar. In all Level III units. eagles. post-cranial elements. The second parameter is of particular interest.g. Horwitz et al. The absence of wild goat at Göbekli Tepe is almost certainly not an artefact of sample size (Table 1). At Göbekli Tepe. buzzards and kites. red deer and Cape hare. Also of interest is the fact that at Göbekli Tepe. So far. taxonomic diversity is similarly high. goitred gazelle must have been very common (41. probably caught in one of the tributaries of the Balikh. mammalian bone fragments form the bulk of the material. concerning the provenience of this material — a question which hardly can be answered at the moment. however. such as falcons. it is beyond doubt that the bone material described above can be characterised as refuse derived from hunting and food preparation and consumption activities rather than from ritual procedures. but relates to the 9th millennium cal. which is also observed at Göbekli Tepe (Table 1). feathers and claws. few fish remains have been found. because 207 . To answer the question propounded at the beginning of this chapter. Remains of ungulates predominate with over 80 % of the total sample. are proportionately ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) far more abundant than cranial elements. They pertain to freshwater species. 1998. 1998. 1999). hand-picking of bone specimens from screens with a mesh of 5 mm certainly caused a bias against small(er) vertebrates. What we know at this preliminary stage of research is that the people responsible for the Level III faunal assemblage were still hunter-foragers. The majority of the fox remains can be attributed to the red fox. smaller species (Vulpes ? cana) seems possible. number of identified specimens (NISP) and bone weight. This skeletal bias can be interpreted as evidence for the exploitation of Vulpes for its pelt. for example to cover and/or decorate floors. To evaluate the approximate contribution of each mammalian taxon to the human diet. This is also the case with other PPN archaeofaunas collected along the Upper and Middle Euphrates (Helmer et al. some Accipitriforme birds in fact played a role in the symbolic world of the Near Eastern PPN. Presumably not all of the fox remains recovered from Layer III come from the refuse dump recycled to seal the site’s PPNA architecture : fox pelts (as well as gazelle hides) with the foot bones still attached — a common practice when preparing skins of game — may also have been used at the site itself. e. Vulpes vulpes.e. Asiatic wild ass. in particular autopodial elements (phalanges. the presence of a second. As will be outlined below. Caprine remains account for about 11 % of the sample. Diurnal birds of prey. Other important herbivores are wild cattle. BC ecogeography of the site catchment : A landscape consisting of low.8 %). but also or even exclusively because of their role in ritual contexts. Occasional cut marks on bones of meat-bearing parts indicates that from time to time people prepared the meat of foxes. and brought up to the site for consumption. but among the specimens that could be identified to the species level. Though bone remains of birds are far less common than those of mammals.. two parameters can be considered. may not have been hunted solely for their meat.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) ished near the site. implies seasonal hunting activities at Göbekli Tepe. common crane (Grus grus) and demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo). However. i. This then leads to the next question. 1999). (meta)carpals. A typical feature of most PPNA and Early PPNB archaeofaunas from the Euphrates drainage area and the southern Levant is the high relative frequency of fox bones (Helmer et al. not a single find could be attributed to the wild goat. species composition does not seem to have been affected significantly by this procedure. Based on the overall size range of the fox bones. Capra aegagrus.

given 1) the large average size of the founder herd species (wild sheep. On the other hand. bone weight correlates well with body weight. 9). an intra-species comparison of bone weights thus might inform us about the relative importance of a particular species as a source of animal protein. subsistence activities also included (seasonal) fowling and some occasional fishing (Tables 1. DISCUSSION From its location and its megalithic architecture. it is difficult to believe that animal symbolism at Göbekli Tepe did not go beyond the level of just protecting the site’s megaliths. pig and cattle). it can be concluded that aurochs provided about 50 % of the total meat consumed. if the animals depicted refer to supra-natural beings. 1999. it is necessary to draw upon related phenomena recorded from (pre)historic contexts in other parts of the Near East and beyond. in press). the altogether low frequency of remains from these vertebrate groups — even in samples that have been sieved — indicates their rather modest contribution as food animals. sieving could not be practised with all of the filling debris. carnivores. While it will be impossible to gauge the dietary importance of birds and fishes at PPNA Göbekli Tepe.Peters J. wild boar and aurochs are potentially dangerous species. 2) the respective demographic profiles of these taxa. it can be safely assumed that the T-shaped pillars represent anthropomorphic beings. which show populations dominated by adult rather than by sub-adult animals. for instance the triad aurochs. Brun 2001). fox and crane (Fig. hence birds and fishes (as well as small(er) mammals) will be underrepresented in the archaeofaunal assemblage. they all possess power and are therefore (virtually) able to protect the megaliths. The animals depicted therefore could have served as attributes and or (imaginary) guards in order to protect their “owners”. while at the same period horses dominated cave art and stood in the centre of ritual activities (Clottes & Lewis-Williams 1997. 208 ANIMALS AS ATTRIBUTES AND/OR GUARDS As explained above. These animals could have attracted a great deal of attention either because they were principal food species on which people depend upon for their survival or because people gave them a specific value or status beyond their purely dietary contribution for reasons we can hardly understand or prove. in cattle. This has for example been the case during the Magdalenian in south-western Europe. On the present evidence it seems unlikely that animal husbandry was already practised. it can be safely assumed that Göbekli Tepe served as a place for the accomplishment of (different kinds of) ritual activities. Admittedly. however. Following this approach. a straightforward correlation of the ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . the most frequently hunted animal. Its unique architecture and the unexpected richness and complexity of animal symbolism at this early stage of the PrePottery Neolithic period necessitates a more elaborate discussion of the possible function(s) of the areas defined by the decorated monoliths. and 3) the fact that remains of males rather than of females dominate in the samples (Peters et al. Due to the lack of comparable sites in the Anti-Taurus. In the case of Göbekli Tepe one could compare the number and range of animals depicted and those represented in the refuse of the filling. implying that we still are dealing with (morphologically) wild ungulates. or animals together with pictograms (Fig. No doubt. people deliberately depicted sets of species rather than single animals. so their presence in megalithic art at PPN Göbekli Tepe could be interpreted this way. ANIMAL SYMBOLISM AND HUNTING RITUALS As has already been mentioned. 3). since the site inhabitants “recycled” ancient settlement debris to cover the megalithic architecture. snakes. As mentioned earlier. only contributed some 15 %. & Schmidt K. 19). whereas gazelle. one approach to understanding animal symbolism at Göbekli Tepe may lie in the assumption that a specific relationship between the hunter-gatherers frequenting Göbekli Tepe and the animals depicted did exist. Considering this particularity. however. In many instances. Admittedly. where reindeer dominated the food spectrum of Late Palaeolithic hunters.

2) in Jordan. 7a). the PPNB gazelle figurines from Umm ez-Zuweitina cave in Israel (Neuville 1934 : pl. 1.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) archaeo(zoo)logical data obtained from an enclosure with the faunal elements depicted on megaliths or the objects of art found in the same structure is not necessarily given. fig. ANIMAL SYMBOLISM AND TOTEMISM Ritual places on hills. too (Kirkbride 1975 : pl. but probably PPNB). a certain similarity between bone refuse and artistic representation can be pointed out : In the refuse. even outnumbering remains of wild boar and reaching the amount of sheep/goats. stelae. keeping in mind a (minor) bias against smaller vertebrates because of partial recovery (see above). while their prominent position on the pillars has been mentioned repeatedly. Taphonomic factors may also play a certain role. archaeological evidence suggests that the bone refuse and the enclosures may have been broadly contemporaneous. On the other hand. However. a gazelle figurine found at PPNB Basta (Hermansen 1997 : pl. the origins of things being expressed through pillars. In the bone refuse. the placing of particular species in a prominent or less prominent position can easily be explained by dietary preferences. Therefore. dissimilarities between consumption waste and animal representations predominate. Table 1). etc. and Asiatic wild ass in terms of meat procurement. fox and wild boar. reflecting hunting activities which are dictated by the local palaeoenvironment. thirdly. Therefore this comparison does make sense. The wall painting of Asiatic wild ass at the seasonal hunting site of Umm Dabaghiyah may be cited here. Bone fragments of snakes are (largely) absent in the faunal samples from Göbekli Tepe. from a statistical point of view. particularly in the lack of snake remains in the bone refuse. which in fact finds parallels in the number of depictions on the stone pillars. the following discrepancy can be observed : The taxa most frequently depicted are snake. from a gazelle hunting camp at Dhuweila (Betts 1998 : 136. although animal representations indicating hunting rituals may be present in the Near Eastern Neolithic. it is difficult to believe that architecture and iconography at Göbekli only served for hunting rituals. for example. Wild boar has a rather limited economic importance in the human diet at Göbekli Tepe. 3A and fig. The artistic representations at Göbekli Tepe. Additionally. although the inverse does not apply (Tables 1. From the archaeofaunal record it becomes obvious that the majority of the vertebrate species depicted in art are also present in the bone samples. 3). however. thought originally to be Natufian. goitred gazelle. The rationale of totemism is that each social group appropriates animal or plant images as their exclusive emblems. 3). a possible approach for the interpretation of the animal representations on the Göbekli Tepe megaliths is totemism. mountains and high places have often been treated as cosmic projections. 6b. while the significance 209 . Thus. Only for fox. From a quantitative point of view. in the case of Göbekli Tepe. stone circles. fox remains are counted in a rather high frequency (n = 971. 6. based on the taxonomic composition of the fauna from Göbekli Tepe (Tables 1. whereas the bone remains from Göbekli Tepe reflect the overwhelming importance of aurochs. 21. a specific worship of foxes may be ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) reflected here. seem to follow other conventions which have still to be revealed. where many gazelles engraved on basalt slabs have been found. only enclosure D would — in our 21st century view — be of relevance to the inhabitants of the site if hunting rituals were practised. In conclusion.1) and another figurine. This somewhat surprising result may be connected with the exploitation of its pelt and/or the utilisation of fox teeth for ornamental purposes. three important prerequisites can be considered relevant in this connection : Firstly. whereas its frequency in megalithic art is remarkable. secondly. the amount of vertebrate material is sufficiently large for a reconstruction of eating habits. we may assume that those people who used the enclosure and those who produced the refuse heaps and filled up the spaces between the pillars probably belonged to the same “clan” or at least related communities whatever these “communities” looked like.

According to Layton (1992).. but its (dual) character resembles that of Meister Reineke in European fairy-tales. an important event for many societies of the world.Peters J. Moreover. Halpin 1981). If it can be hypothesized that the animal taxa depicted by the PPN inhabitants of Göbekli Tepe refer to forces of origination as well as to different ethnic distinctions. the fox appears not to be associated with any deity. emblems may have been chosen according to non-profane criteria as well. totemic art will tend to be concentrated at sites which mark significant points in a group’s territory. the dangerousness of lions and leopards. Although it has been assumed that the Tshaped pillars may also connect the underworld with the sky or upper world (e. as has been done by Native American cultures inhabiting the Northwest Coast (e. on particular physical. Maringer 1977). the criteria governing the choice of species as emblems will be difficult to ascertain with hindsight. If the pillars represent anthropomorphic gods. As pointed out above.). it is a fact that foxes are almost completely absent in the mythologies of post-Neolithic Mesopotamian cultures.). the highly developed social organisation in carnivores. Helwan.g. however.g. Unlike species such as (wild) cattle. the fact that on PPNA megaliths animals are depicted along a vertical axis (e. Areas demarcated by standing stones or totem poles may serve the performance of initiation and rites of passage to adulthood. In this connection. e. Could it be.. of each species derives from its place in the cognitive structure (e. The choice could have been based.. Snakes. the venomousness of snakes. Vigne & Buitenhuis 1999).. Conversely.g. Helmer et al. the migratory behaviour of cranes. that the occurrence of Aswad. e. it is doubtful whether such a “vertical hierarchy” was already adopted by early PPN communities (e. Bischoff 2002).g. then. the adaptability and opportunistic behaviour of foxes. While we can only guess the role Vulpes played in the symbolic world of the PPN. in animal symbolism as well as in everyday life. Figs 8. el-Khiam.. Vulpes played an important role in Neolithic communities in Southwest Asia. etc. can be interpreted to represent chthonic creatures and would therefore often be associated with deities of the underworld (e..g. the swiftness and agility of gazelles. Cranes are migratory birds and will cross the Harran plain twice a year while migrating from their breeding grounds to their wintering areas (August-October) or vice versa (MarchApril). they announce the turn of the seasons. as a commensal species (Vigne 1988.. for 210 example. 1998.g. Thus. Nemrik and Nevalı Çori arrow heads in the PPN debris at Göbekli Tepe is not due to (long distance) trade but results from visits by “allochthonous” human groups to perform their rites in their “own” enclosure ? Provided this was the case and that emblems had been selected according to the landscape and environmental setting from which the human groups originated. in totemism the identity of a human group will be characterised by one (or a selection ?) of animals in the form of emblems. the impressive size and physical strength of the aurochs and the brown bear. the vigour of equines. the concept of hierarchy emerging in the course of the Neolithic (Cauvin ibid. Cauvin 1997 : 100). the presence of a series of broadly contemporaneous enclosures each with a unique iconography could imply that each space demarcated by pillars was frequented by one or more “clans” (at different times ?).. & Schmidt K. Conceivably. 20) does not necessarily imply a true hierarchy. Vigne & Guilaine this vol. Layton 2000). the pillars at Göbekli Tepe could be interpreted as poles linking the underworld with the “living” world. in that the more important and/or powerful an animal being. ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . the higher its position on the vertical part of a monolith. protoNeolithic societies still considered the world to be organised essentially horizontally. and this might explain why it was introduced onto Neolithic Cyprus and other Mediterranean islands (Vigne 1988. If this scenario applies to Göbekli Tepe. physiological and behavioural characteristics of species.g.g. each animal species will be preferentially depicted at sites within the territory of the group for whom it is the totemic emblem. for example. One possible way to depict emblems may be on totem poles. Together with other migratory birds. lion or dog (Black & Green 1992).

. while the analysis of the vertebrate remains has shown that aurochs. hemione and a large carnivore. Based on the bas-reliefs on the twin pillars. fox is the dominant emblem at enclosure B (Fig. with relative frequencies varying between 30 and 40 % (Hongo & Meadow 2000). fox and crane were not unimportant in the economies of Jerf el Ahmar. lion ?) complete the inventory. From the beginning of the Holocene. 1998. Interestingly. 1999) underscores the significance of this taxon in the spiritual world of the PPN northern Fertile Crescent. Gourichon 2002). evidence for this large quadruped in the PPN archaeofaunal record is rare. Sus (25 %) ranks second behind goats (43 %. this vol. but its remains have been found at Çayönü (Hongo et al. Be that as it may. other species such as aurochs. probably a felid (leopard. Vulpes may have been too widespread a symbol to locate its geographic origin. wild boar and cranes are partial to moist.. the high relative frequency of its remains compared to other carnivores at Göbekli Tepe and in most of the PPNA/Early PPNB faunal assemblages (e. Thus. each having their own particular emblem(s). from its archaeozoological and iconographical record. 21) is indicative for dry. snake. But. riparian habitats. grooved stones from PPNA Jerf el Ahmar on the Syrian Euphrates (Stordeur 2000. but representations of crane. Vigne 1988. while the iconography at enclosure A might point to a connection with the Syrian Euphrates valley. 19). At Enclosure D. 2002). This spectrum shows similarities with the vertebrate fauna from Göbekli Tepe as well as with faunas from sites located further north. Helmer et al. Vigne & Guilaine this vol. aurochs. whereas at Çayönü. to add. Tell Mureybet. e. As stated.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) would it not be possible on the basis of the animal taxa represented at each enclosure to narrow down the geographic origin of (some of) these “clans” ? At enclosure A. e.g. depictions of fox and snake are most common. pictographs of snake and fox have been recorded on small. crane and probably wild sheep. Helmer 1994. wild boar. fox.. representations of wild boar dominate the bestiary (Figs 13-17). Gourichon 2002).g. Legge 1996.. Vigne 2000. where human groups depended much more on Sus for their survival. the central (Anti)Taurus.g. or along the Syrian Euphrates. 18). This could suggest a ritual space for (a) human group(s) coming from the north. Helmer et al. Helmer et al. it is possible as well that enclosures were frequented by groups of different geographic origin. 1998. At Cafer Höyük. At Enclosure C. on the other hand. i. Whereas these four taxa could suggest a connection with the Syrian Euphrates valley. Jerf el Ahmar.e. The major argument in favour of this hypothesis is the low frequency of Sus at Göbekli Tepe (< 6 %) and at PPN sites located further to the south compared to the archaeofaunas from sites to the north(east) of Göbekli Tepe. One highly speculative explanation could be that at an early phase of site occupation. wild sheep were relatively abundant in temperate regions such as the piedmont of the southern Taurus. The ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) presence of fox at Middle PPNB Shillourokambos (Vigne & Buitenhuis 1999. Peters et al. pigs are the most important taxon throughout the entire PPN sequence. open landscapes. at a later stage. 1999). five taxa are depicted (Figs 12. aurochs. Interestingly. Tell Abu Hureyra and Tell Cheikh Hassan (Helmer 1994.). Such a mixture of biotopes is found at 211 . Helmer et al. however. since Ovis were very rare or even absent in most of northern Syria prior to their introduction as a domesticate (Uerpmann 1987. a group of humans originating from the Syrian Euphrates valley settled near Göbekli Tepe. e. the representation of wild sheep does not fit well into the picture. a faunal element of their “new” territory to their “traditional” spectrum of emblems. Helmer 1988). it is possible that a faunal element particular to the Anti-Taurus has been incorporated. brown bear may also have been depicted at enclosure C.g. 1998. for example. Nevalı Çori (von den Driesch & Peters 2001). gazelle. Tell Mureybet and Tell Cheikh Hassan (Helmer 1994. Besides wild boar.) possibly relates to the symbolic role of the species on the mainland prior to the colonisation of Cyprus by PPN human groups. Peters et al. While the combination of gazelle and Asiatic wild ass on P21 (Fig.

If this applies. only intra-site evaluation was possible due to the lack of contemporaneous sites with comparable megalithic art. According to Layton. This distribution will be in contrast with that observed in the case of totemism.g. whereas in shamanic art. the ivory sculpture “Der Löwenmensch” from Palaeolithic Hohlenstein-Stadel (Lone valley. And although Layton (2002 : 184. a sphinx or a centaur. each occurring with about the same frequency.. e.and inter-site comparison of the motifs. because each motif serves as the emblem of one clan among many. would hence be useful to differentiate between the three categories. From Table 2. creatures with a human body and the head of an animal. i. he acts in a transcendental sphere and will be able to provide answers to questions of members of his community. a bison (Trois Frères. wild boar and fox becomes obvious. The shamanic explanation for Bushmen rock art in southern Africa was quite successfully applied to Palaeolithic cave paintings of the FrancoCantabrian region (Clottes & Lewis-Williams 1997. It should be stressed. the intention of which is not to show everyday life but some supra-natural sphere. Chauvet) or an ibex (Gabillou). in particular their frequencies. it is of course tempting to apply his preliminary conclusions to the corpus of animal representations found at Göbekli Tepe. In Late Palaeolithic rock art in Europe. e. ANIMAL SYMBOLISM AND SHAMANISM Based on a comparative survey of rock art. while the combination of an animal body with a human head. and this must have been the case along most water courses in both the Euphrates and Tigris drainage regions.g.. it is probable that these paintings were made by the shamans themselves. Layton (2000 : 179 ff. 212 Note 2) admits that more samples are needed to explore consistency between different cases of totemic. however. e. The same applies to anthropo(zoo)morphic figurines in archaeological contexts. of a lion (Hohlenstein-Stadel). there should be a predominance of few animal taxa. Did humans have the ability to turn into animals (and back). A high species diversity and approximately equal frequencies will also characterise secular art. on the other hand. Clottes and Louis-Williams (1997. Intra. revealed that totemic art is characterised by the presence of a large number of species. could not become humans ? If the theriokephalic beings in Palaeolithic rock art impersonate shamans.) hypothesized that totemic. the ecotone of steppe and river valley vegetation. simply because they would possess the cultural background necessary to produce this kind of art. They therefore show different but characteristic distributions within and between sites. seems to be lacking almost completely in prehistoric art. & Schmidt K. In this state. in which some species are often particularly charged with power. are present at numerous sites. 1998).Peters J.g. The latter assumption is based on ethnographic evidence from shamanistic cultures. Differences exist only at the level of what can be expected. while animals. anthropozoomorphs. where (each) motif(s) will be concentrated at a few sites within the territory. it can be concluded that the enclosures at Göbekli Tepe witnessed shamanic rituals. as a rule. Hahn 1994). These species may therefore have served as vehicles for spiritual encounters. shamanic and secular rock art.. A similar distribution can be postulated for secular rock art : the species hunted and gathered during everyday foraging activities will be depicted with equal frequency at all sites. the high frequency of snake.. If related for ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . shamanic and secular rock art offer different ways of using motifs drawn from the vocabulary of a cultural tradition. giraffe among the ! Kung (Marshall 1969). Intra-site comparison. Unfortunately. theriokephalic beings have been considered to impersonate shamans. southwest Germany. totemic. inter-site comparison suggests that the species favoured in shamanism will be depicted throughout the community’s area because they are then available to people in many local groups. shamanic and secular art are not necessarily mutually exclusive.g. The scenes depicted might arise from the shaman’s own experiences during trance-induced spiritual encounters. e. that at a single location. 1998) argue that the experience of trance and its mental outcome are similar in all Homo sapiens. Interestingly.e.

At Neolithic Çatal Hüyük. In this connection. Taring 1972). the figure swinging a whip on a Çatal Hüyük wall decoration (VIII 8) may well represent somebody attracting the birds rather then warding them off (Schüz & König 1983). but weeks. But the fact that the foundations of the central twin pillars did not insure good stability would possibly exclude mass gatherings. considering the wall paintings on which they are depicted encircling headless human bodies (Mellaart 1967). Seen from this perspective. Illustrations of this can be found in the limestone sculptures of vulture-like birds at 213 . In Central Asia. Solecki & McGovern 1980. when colours. and that the ancient rituals had already undergone changes as a result of the dawn of a ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) new world. visited the site occasionally to perform specific rituals. To 20th century western visitors in Tibet. whether shamanic rituals were performed at the site or whether the decorated T-shaped pillars represented shamans with their attributes cannot be unequivocally answered for the moment. To carve. in particular large groups of humans moving or dancing. for example. Schäfer 1938. Contrary to Mellaart (1967).g. is not casual. it is tempting to interpret these megaliths as three-dimensional representations of shamans. (pre)conditions in the PPN Anti-Taurus must have differed entirely from those prevailing in Upper Palaeolithic Europe : the monumental art at Göbekli Tepe does not represent the outcome of an act of few individuals. are prepared in advance. large enough and organised in an hierarchical way so as to be able to provide the necessary logistics for such a complex undertaking. together with their communities. and erect megaliths up to 7 m high (!) is hard work. people will bring the deceased to specific places in the mountains. the fabrication of these huge monoliths did not take a few hours. It is beyond doubt that vultures also played a role in the symbolic world of the Neolithic inhabitants of the upper Euphrates and Tigris basin in the millennia preceding site occupation at Çatal Hüyük. It is therefore hardly realistic to believe that this task was carried out by a few shamans who.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) example to hunting. rock paintings can be made in a comparably short time. vultures may have played a similar role. The birds (mainly Himalayan griffons) apparently waited in a “disciplined fashion” until “called” by the swinging sling or by some recognisable sound (Hedin 1909. a whale or a seal for an Eskimo. In conclusion. The importance of vultures at Neolithic Çatal Hüyük is also illustrated by the fact that some relief decorations on the walls contained vulture skulls.. so it is highly probable that. it is not improbable that the shamans at Göbekli Tepe (if present) were on the verge of becoming true priests. Schüz & König 1983). shelter…). etc. rub down. many of the T-shaped pillars hitherto excavated show no animal decorations at all. clothing. These people would have depended on the (local) hunter-gatherer community for their basic requirements (food. but implies a situation resembling that in “Open sesame !” Given the anthropomorphic nature of the T-shaped pillars at Göbekli Tepe and the fact that these abstract monoliths bear representations of particular (sets of) animal species. a considerable number of skilled labourers participated to accomplish this task. However. ANIMAL SYMBOLISM AND FUNERAL CUSTOMS There is one animal which in the recent and distant past has quite often been associated with funeral rites : the vulture (Solecki 1977. besides a person in charge (a shaman ?). an antelope or a giraffe for a Bushman. for example after trance dancing. a world characterised by a megalithic architecture (the preliminary stage of temples) and a stratified society with powerful rulers. Schüz & König 1983). however. Moreover. compared to rock paintings. e. if not months. Conceivably. transport. brushes etc. and this seems contradictory to the previous assumption. decorate. but of activities involving an entire community. the vultures even seemed to be conditioned to approach in response to the swinging of a sling by the professional body dissectors (ragyapas). where the bodies are laid out for the vultures (Hedin 1909. the animal species involved will differ according to the region. moreover. The position of the drawing on the rock face.

the symbols recorded from the demarcated spaces at Göbekli Tepe appear exclusively masculine. Obviously this knife was not made for daily use. evidence for vultures is restricted to a few isolated bones (Table 3) and a beautifully carved stone figurine (Fig. Between the iconographies of Çatal Hüyük and Göbekli Tepe there is another difference : snakes 214 are completely absent from the wall paintings at Çatal Hüyük. In the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Upper Euphrates basin. and in some regions of India they still serve this purpose. & Schmidt K. In Iran. dakhmas were in use until the 20th century. The foregoing observations thus reinforce the assumption of Göbekli Tepe being a place for rituals related to the cult of the deceased. From 20th century observations in these countries we know that dakhmas were not only frequented by vultures but also by other bird species. Firstly. B). a view which is strengthened by two additional arguments. Helmer et al. 21) as well as the humans (Fig. monumentality usually demonstrates power and monumental buildings for the deceased are a widespread phenomenon in (pre)history. This is illustrated by findings from PPNA Jerf el Ahmar (Cauvin 1997. 23). the snake motif appears to have been widespread. and especially the absence of small figurines known from almost any other Neolithic settlement in the Near East seems significant. These buildings — named “towers of silence” by western visitors — are frequented by birds feeding on carrion (e. although a flint knife handle made of bone and carved in the shape of a snake has been found (Mellaart 2003 : 126. in particular corvine birds (crows and ravens). 167. for example. unless a plausible explanation can be offered as to why people decided not to represent these birds. yet members of the crow family are lacking in the iconography of the site. the animals (Figs 13. secondly. 1999) and Körtik Tepe.) and the small stone figurines excavated at Nemrik (Aurenche & Kozlowski 2000) and Jerf el Ahmar (Gourichon 2002). the deceased will be deposited in so-called “dakhmas”. 19. In Zoroastrian funeral rites. Interestingly. 54). 3). this vol. the pictographs on engraved stones from Jerf el Ahmar (Stordeur 2000. as is the case with vultures. however. one could tentatively conclude that the site did not serve funeral customs and practises. the fact that they are missing at Göbekli Tepe could imply that rituals related to the cult of the dead might present the key to our understanding of the site. At Nevalı Çori. Huff 1988). whose primary function could have been to support and guide members of the community in life (or from life to death?). SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS The excavations at Göbekli Tepe have revealed a hitherto unparalleled PPNA site with a rich ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) . 8). 15. Early-Middle PPNB Nevalı Çori (Hauptmann 1993.Peters J. Gabriel 1971. Female representations are lacking. With respect to Göbekli Tepe. Stordeur 1999. Nevalı Çori (Hauptmann & Schmidt 2001 : figs 305-307). remains of corvine birds make up more than one third of the bird fauna at Göbekli Tepe. 88.. 10) was found in the wall of a ritual building. Provided that the animal taxa depicted on the T-shaped pillars indeed had a totemic and/or shamanic meaning (at least in a broad sense). fig.g. If such female depictions are linked to fertility and life in the broadest sense. it would help to explain why vultures were excluded as emblems : their association with death (and the upper world ?) would have been in conflict with the very nature of the anthropomorphic beings. The flint blade is bifacially pressure-flaked. several stone vessels decorated with snake motifs were present among the grave goods (Özkaya & San 2003 : fig. It is debatable whether the bone remains of vultures which have been found in the archaeofaunas from Gürcütepe (von den Driesch & Peters 2001) and Jerf elAhmar (Gourichon 2002). 24A. Helmer et al. this vol. fig. Since depictions of vultures are lacking in the megalithic art of Göbekli Tepe. should also be seen in such a context.) and Tel Qaramel (Mazurowski & Jamous 2001 : fig. At Körtik Tepe. a limestone sculpture of a human head decorated with a snake (Hauptmann 1999 : fig.

. Some of these monoliths exhibit arms and hands in bas-relief. led to the appearance of fully domesticated plants and animals and the emergence of agro-pastoralism (Peters et al. Correspondingly there is the issue of whether the areas demarcated by the decorated pillars were intended for hunting rituals. A good illustration of this are the so-called Balbals. fox and wild boar. have been excluded from the statistics. In this contribution. with two freestanding pillars in the centre. in particular snake. 3) totemic emblems. well-organised hierarchical community. Fortunately. Discussion centred on the possible role of the faunal elements depicted. in the course of the PPNB. animal sculptures and animal depictions on limestone slabs (> 40). standing stones placed around medieval graves in Eurasia. ancestors. i. initiation and passage rites. 2) favourite game species. However. Because of the fact that only part of the site has so far been excavated. although differences in taxonomic composition and relative frequencies between the archaeofaunal and iconographical record contradict the assumption that Göbekli Tepe principally served hunting rituals. in press). and any indication of sex is lacking. On the pillars. whether they would represent 1) guards and/or attributes of the anthropomorphic beings. Up to now. fide Belli 2003 : 126). It is not clear. 4) vehicles for spiritual encounters or 5) animals associated with mortuary practices. shamans. In this contribution.Animals in the symbolic world of PPN Göbekli Tepe (Turkey) megalithic architecture. in the 215 . The latter measure on average 3. spiritual encounters or funeral practices. historical sources provide an explanation for their meaning : “I killed their heroic warriors and made balbals of them […]” and “I turned the Kirghiz Khan into a balbal […]” (Orkun 193641. Balbals thus impersonate warriors who were killed. sedentary. It is therefore beyond doubt that the necessity to satisfy and secure the energy demands of the people living in the vicinity of Göbekli Tepe and similar large PPNA communities in the Anti-Taurus and in the upper Euphrates basin led to numerous innovations and adjustments to the existing subsistence patterns. or whether the enclosures witnessed a multitude of distinct rituals and gatherings involving different (sets of) species. in particular the numerous representations of animals on the T-shaped pillars. suggesting that they represent anthropomorphic beings. willing to invest in the materialization of its complex immaterial world over many generations and at a considerable cost in energy. e. the focus has been on the megalithic art at PPNA Göbekli Tepe. It also implies a large. stone spirits or perhaps even demons ? Obviously the animals on the T-shaped pillars must have been visible to the people that were allowed to enter the space. 1999. an attempt has been made to trace the rationale behind the animal depictions on the T-shaped pillars. The manpower and craftsmanship necessary for its construction and maintenance implies division of labour and involved a considerable number of skilled people. symbolism in Late Quaternary contexts in other parts of the world were drawn upon to evaluate the animal representations encountered at Göbekli Tepe. the possibilities mentioned above are hypothetical. the present view of a symbolic world dominated by few taxa. only male animals have been ANTHROPOZOOLOGICA • 2004 • 39 (1) displayed. then positioned around the grave and hence “chained” to their master to serve him eternally. these changes. however. what kind of beings these standing stones impersonate : do they represent anthropomorphic gods. their number may increase.5 to 5 m and have been arranged in such a way as to form round or oval enclosures. But any interpretation of the function of these megaliths will encounter similar difficulties as is the case with explanations offered for menhirs. at least ten vertebrate taxa have been recognised (Table 2). may be biased. Representations of animals are sometimes accompanied by symbols and/or pictograms. compilation by Worschech 2002). selected and/or combined according to patterns which are still far from being understood. all the more because numerous other representations. obelisks and other standing stones found elsewhere in Asia and Europe (cf. The overall shape of the pillars appears standardized. Because sites with similar finds are lacking.g. Therefore.e. masseboth. For the moment.

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