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Gobeklitepe and Sumer comparisons

By Mehmet Kurtkaya
Published online on May 10, 2017

Gobeklitepe Images from Wikimedia

Image by Teoman Cimit

Gobeklitepe is the oldest temple in the world, built on top of a hill located near the Southeastern city of Sanlıurfa in Turkey. It is not far from Sumer lands located to its south. However, 7,000 years separate these two civilizations.

Can Gobekltepe offer some clues about migration patterns from Siberia, Central Asia, and the Urals thousands of years before Sumer?

Are there any similarities between the two cultures?

Is it even conceivable that the existence of Gobeklitepe could be one additional (even if unnecessary) proof for the origins of Sumerians?

Sumer is a very advanced civilization comparatively, but one can find some striking similarities between Gobeklitepe reliefs and Sumerian reliefs and tablets! There is no doubt that Sumerians have inherited or advanced some of the beliefs of Gobeklitepe's semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. Before going into the details, let us first look at the position of the temple. It is located on top of a hill! This immediately reminds us of the Sumerian Ziggurats and Egyptian pyramids which are both mountain-like structures! There is a very important similarity between Sumerian Ziggurats and the temple of Gobeklitepe: it took an immense amount of man power, skilled labor, and social coordination to gather, drag, and sculpt these huge stones, an effort that we see in Sumerian step pyramids and even more so in the Egyptian pyramids!

The social aspects and implications of such large social endeavors is not discussed enough. A class society, or at least a society with shamans and chiefs, with strong spiritual/religious beliefs must have built Gobeklitepe.

Why did hunter-gatherers build Gobeklitepe?

Image by Klaus Peter Simon

To find a fact-based answer, we must use known information from hunter-gatherer societies in other parts of Eurasia, as well the first major civilization Sumer, to reveal the unknown (Gobeklitepe).

Yes, thousands of years separate these two civilizations, but there is no indication of a major civilization change in the Neolithic life in Eurasia before Sumer. There are some important developments, many Neolithic cultures and sites, but overall change is gradual. It accumulates in Siberia, in Central Asia from the Altai mountains to the Urals especially, but the civilization leap happens with Sumer! social changes of the last 50000 years in Eurasia by Lars Hennings.

We also know that social stratification started before agriculture. In fact, social stratification existed in nomadic Turkic tribes for thousands of years, and in hunter-gatherer societies too, before they settled. In Siberia, some Turkic tribes had nomadic and settled lives at the same time.

We should expect some major similarities between Sumer and Gobeklitepe people as Sumerian Turks had many of the beliefs of hunter-gatherer societies and shamanistic practices known all over Eurasia and the Americas in the Paleolithic and Neolithic period (over 12,000 years).

There are mythical, spiritual, and cultural reasons for building step pyramids and pyramids. We should compare the Gobeklitepe site with the vast information we have from Sumerian Ziggurats, artifacts, and tablets to check for similarities and differences.

Humanity's 250,000 years long journey can be seen as a transition from the animal state to human state, of which the last 50,000 years saw the most phenomenal changes.

Even in Sumer we see humans as part of a broader animal life, especially through their myths. Animals in reliefs represented gods in Sumer, like the bull head represented the sun and the sky gods. So, when dealing with Gobeklitepe we should extrapolate back from Sumer to come to a better conclusion about their beliefs while keeping in mind that Gobeklitepe was a hunter-gatherer religious site unlike Sumer (see Gobeklitepe archaeologists' blog). Hence, animals can also be representatives of tribal affiliations seen in Eurasia and North America.

Image by Alex Wang

Excavated top layer in Gobeklitepe shows 4-5 meters high T-shaped stone pillars in a circular arrangement just like Stonehenge, but from 8,000 years earlier. Archeoastronomists tell us that this structure relates to sky/solar observation. Seems appropriate, but that's only part of the story since the Gobeklitepe people were not observing the sky for the same reason as today's astronomers do!

Circular stone pillar arrangements probably represent the sun. A stone ring found at the site might also represent the sun or the full moon. The only constant perfect circle in nature is the sun!

This opens for us a new window, towards the sky!

Gobeklitepe was a sky observatory AND a temple as they believed in sun/sky gods just like in Sumer!

Also see an article about some of the symbols found on Gobeklitepe pillar, especially sun and moon symbols. Comparisons with Sumerian and Akkadian cylinder seals as well as a comparison with Proto-Turkish symbols from Central Asia. See Gobeklitepe cosmic equinox and sacred marriage.

Handbags of gods in Gobeklitepe, Sumer and Maya civilizations

Image by Nicholas Guerrin

A very interesting detail in stone reliefs is the handbag of gods that we can see in Gobeklitepe (12,000 BP), Sumer (6,000 BP), and Maya (5,000 BP) reliefs - BP meaning before present.

Mathematically speaking this cannot be a coincidence. (Also see Kerry Sullivan's well researched article )

The remaining part of my article can be found in my book.


New discovery! 3000 years old Sun Altar found in Western China's Xinjiang Britain's Stonehenge monoliths are slightly older, Gobeklitepe is 7000 years older.

This is a major discovery because it is the first sun altar found in Western Eurasia! An important line from the report: "Archaeologists believe those who built the temple would have had to pull stones across great distances to construct the monument!" Similar efforts can be seen in Gobeklitepe, Sumerian Ziggurats and Egyptian pyramids! It is also circular like Gobeklitepe and Stonehenge.

This finding provides further proof of the continuity of Eurasian civilization and is in line with my thesis which also shows Siberia-Central Asia as the cradle of civilizations.

For those interested in the role of cult and feasting in the emergence of Neolithic communities, here's a very good article. The hunter gatherers of Gobeklitepe may have brewed beer long before Sumerians: Great article on Gobeklitepe with equally great photos

Latest news from Gobeklitepe: Carved human skulls found in Gobeklitepe June 28, 2017

My New Book!

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Discover groundbreaking revelations on the roots of modern civilization in one short book. How did we arrive to where we are? How ancient civilizations a world apart, Sumer and Maya were connected. An overview that covers a wide range of topics from human migrations 50000 years ago to Gobeklitepe, the first temple in history, the first matriarchal society with written records, Elam, and to the Sun Cult of the Hattis. Their origins and influence on other ancient civilizations including their neighbors, distant relatives: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Hurrian, Scythian, Oguz, Kassite, Gutian, Hyksos and more. (And all my articles on this website included.)