Can you describe the main
architectural characteristics of Göbekli Tepe?
It is made up of a series of three main sub-surface rectilinear
structures defined by dry-stone walls, and containing many
decorated T-shaped pillars. These stones served primarily as
roof supports, although a symbolic purpose can not be ruled out.
In one 'cult building', as these structures are known, is a ring
of free standing pillars, their edges radiating out from a
central point, like the spokes of a wheel.
Could you explain to our readers why Göbekli Tepe was a
Göbekli Tepe can be described as sacerdotal, in that it was
clearly utilized as a place of veneration and perhaps
communication with supernatural entities and domains. This is
accepted by the main excavator Dr Klaus Schmidt of the German Aarchaeological Institute of Istanbul. Curiously, in the Turkish
language Göbekli Tepe means 'hill of the naval', suggestive of
the site's former role as an important religious centre serving
a large catchment region.
How is it possible that a hunter/gatherer society suddenly
transforms itself to be able to build such a magnificent
megalithic site with no equals in the world?
I strongly suspect that the transition was engineered by an
extremely powerful and very cunning shamanic or priestly-based
ruling elite, who knew how to easily manipulate and motivate the
local population. It would have required a considerable work
force of hundreds of people to have constructed sites such as
Göbekli Tepe, and this has to have been controlled by a ruling
body of immense persuasiveness.
The question remains as to where
this elite might have come from, and whether independent
evidence of their existence can be found anywhere. The main
indication would be sites of proto-agriculture experimentation
that predate the PPN sites of Upper Mesopotamia (northern Syria,
northern Iraq and southeast Turkey), c.11,500-11, 000 BP (before
I suspect the original homeland of the incoming shamanic elite
was on the Upper Nile in Egypt and the Sudan, where some
indication of proto-agriculture was found during the excavation
of sites belonging to the Isnan and Qadan peoples of 15,000 to
11,500 years ago. However, today this evidence has been
seriously called into question, making a migration route for
these people more difficult to establish.
I still suspect that the individuals
responsible for Göbekli Tepe came out of Africa, and migrated
into Upper Mersopotamia via what is today the foothills and
mountains of northern Israel, southern Lebanon. However, there
might also be a link with the Cro-Magnon cave artists of Western
Europe, or even incoming peoples from China and South-east Asia
(after the work of Stephen Oppenheimer in his book EDEN IN THE
EAST - 1998). We should keep an open mind at this time, for
evidence of proto-agriculture is emerging earlier and earlier
all over the world.
The antiquity of the site is amazing considering the
complexity of the advanced culture shown by the site. How do you
explain such an advanced culture 11,000 years ago?
There is no obvious explanation for a high culture existing in
Upper Mesopotamia at the end of the last Ice Age, when the rest
of the world was still populated by hunter-gathering communities
concerned with day-to-day survival, and little more. However,
these faceless individuals, known to archaeologists as the
Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) peoples, created some of the most
mesmeric art in the ancient world, which would not be bettered
for thousands of years.
I suspect that the proposed priestly or shamanic-based ruling
elite entered the region and came across a basic
hunter-gathering society ripe for change at the end of the last
Ice Age, and so they simply engineered their transition into
settled farming communities. Elevated sites such as Göbekli Tepe
and Nevali Çori became their civil and ceremonial nerve centers,
all as part of the so-called Neolithic revolution or explosion
which eventually began here, before spreading out across the
It is my belief that the trafficking
between the suspected ruling elite and the peoples of Upper
Mesopotamia is the story found in
the Book of Enoch, where
Watchers are said to have gone amongst mortal kind
giving them the forbidden arts and sciences of heaven. These
were said to have included the use of herbs and plants,
metallurgy, the fashioning of weapons, female beautification,
and astronomy, many of the firsts accredited to the Early
Neolithic world in Upper Mesopotamia.
frescoe as seen on a wall at Çatal Hüyük.
On the left, the
vultures protect the head, representing the seat of the soul.
Similar stories exist in the myths and legends of
speak of gods called
Anunnaki coming among mortal kind and
providing them with the rudiments of civilization. I believe
there is strong evidence to suggest that the Watchers, and their
offspring the Nephilim, were indeed the shamanic elite
that founded the early Neolithic cult centers of Upper
They are repeatedly referred to in
pseudepigraphical literature as birdmen, and we know that the
Neolithic period's highly prominent cult of the dead was focused
around excarnation, and
the use of the vulture as a symbol of
both astral flight and the transmigration of the soul in death.
Clear carvings and depictions of vultures, as well as
representations of birdmen, have been found at Göbekli Tepe and
other PPN sites in SE Turkey and North Syria.
At Göbekli Tepe was found the first temples with totemic
symbols. Could you explain us which kind of cult was celebrated
there and which is the meaning of those animals?
Among the carved forms in high relieves to be seen on stone
pillars at Göbekli Tepe are anthropomorphs, felines, raptor
birds, sperm-like snakes, arachnids, insects, foxes, boars and
ostriches. There are so many different types of zoomorphic
images that it has so far proved impossible for anyone to
interpret or bracket all their intended symbolism, if indeed
this is was it is meant to be.
However, there seems to be a clear preference of interest in
snakes and birds, like the vulture. Whereas the vulture is
associated with death and rebirth, as it is at Çatal Hüyük - the
oldest Neolithic city anywhere in the world, situated in
southern-central Turkey and dating to 8500 BP - I suspect the
snake played a slightly different role among the PPN
The snake is universally a symbol of
birth, new life, transformation, cosmic creation and divine
knowledge and wisdom. I also suspect that Upper Mesopotamia's
cult of the dead featured the use of hallucinogenic substances,
most obviously mycetes, since serpents are a universal symbol
seen during mind-altered states, and examples to be seen as
Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori sport heads that closely resemble
highly-psychotropic mushrooms of the psilocybin family.
discovered at Göbekli Tepe
Do you really believe that
through the correct study of Göbekli Tepe we will be able to
understand the origins of the biblical narration?
Göbekli Tepe is the oldest stone temple anywhere in the world,
and has to be a key to understanding the symbolism of the story
of the Garden of Eden.
cult building at Göbekli Tepe
It is strange that the snake appears as an important symbol in
the Book of Genesis's story of Adam and Eve. Here in the Old
Testament it symbolizes the knowledge of awareness that Adam and
Eve are naked, and that they should cover themselves. I feel it
is a metaphor for the manner in which the incoming ruling elite
of Upper Mesopotamia, the suspected
Watchers of the Book of
Enoch, gave mortal kind forbidden knowledge, which forever
changed the way they thought about life.
However, it was a case of too much
knowledge too soon, and so Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden,
which we know to have been a real kingdom focused on Lake Van, a
huge inland sea in Eastern Turkey. From here the Euphrates and
Tigris, two of the rivers of paradise, take their course before
flowing down into Iraq's Fertile Crescent.
Indeed, author and archaeologist David Rohl - a colleague of
yours - is convinced that Göbekli Tepe is the biblical Eden. Do
you agree with him? If so, how could you explain this
David is very familiar with the themes outlined in my previous
FROM THE ASHES OF ANGELS (1996) and
GODS OF EDEN (1998),
which cite the original Garden of Eden as an area encompassing
mainly Upper Mesopotamia (Southeast Turkey, Northern Syria and
In his own book LEGEND (1998) David
saw the land of Eden as a much bigger region covering not only
the whole of Upper Mesopotamia, but also large parts of Western
and Northern Iran and Armenia as well. He was adamant that I was
wrong about my choice of area, since it contradicted his own
theories on the four rivers of paradise, said to flow out of the
land of Eden.
If David now believes that Göbekli
Tepe is the Garden of Eden, then he has changed his position
somewhat. Yet I suspect he is correct, for I say more-or-less
the same thing in THE CYGNUS MYSTERY, which opens with my own
visit to Göbekli Tepe in 2004.
What was the relationship between the centers of Göbekli Tepe,
Nevali Çori and Çatal Huyuk?
The main relationship between key PPN sites such as Göbekli Tepe
and Nevali Çori is the fact that their layout, design and art
are the same. They were constructed by the same unique race of
people. They connect with Çatal Hüyük because this was a latter
development of the same high culture, and so this city -
excavated first in the early 1960s by British archaeologist
James Mellaart - can tell us much about the earlier cults at
places such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori.
Like, for example, the Neolithic
cult of the dead. At Çatal Hüyük we find frescoes of vultures
accompanying the soul of the deceased into the next world, and
also of shamans taking the form of vultures for presumed
shamanic practices, such as contacting or journeying into the
other world. Since statues of birdmen, as well as those of
vultures, have been found at both Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori,
we can be pretty sure that the same cult existed here as far
back as 11,500-10,000 BP.
Could you tell me about the stone Karibu that guards the tree
of life? This reminds me a lot of the cherub that guards the Ark
of the Covenant and a similar image found also among the
Babylonians. Is Göbekli Tepe really the origin of those biblical
Karibu and Cherubim are the same - angelic beings,
and ultimately their roots can be traced back to memories of the
priestly or ruling elite at places such as Göbekli Tepe.
Clearly, there is more to the story of the cherub that guards
the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, for it might also relate
to either archaeoastronomy or a global catastrophe around the
end of the last Ice Age.
Much more knowledge about this epoch
is contained in the
Book of Enoch and
Book of Giants, both found
among the Dead Sea Scrolls and probably first recorded down in
the region of Southeast Turkey, where Abraham, the ancestor of
the Hebrew race is said to have come from. A cave shrine marking
his alleged place of birth can be visited in Sanliurfa (Urfa,
the ancient city of ancient Edessa), where various PPN sites
have been discovered.
There is powerful evidence,
supported by David Rohl, to demonstrate that Sanliurfa,
ancient Urfa, was the original Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham is said
to have been born. It is very possible that
the story of the
Watchers, as found in the Book of Enoch, was carried out of
Upper Mesopotamia, the true site of Chaldea, when Abraham and
his family, the ancestors of the Israelites and Jews, set out
from the city of Harran on their epic journey to Canaan, the
future land of Israel.
I read also that at Göbekli Tepe has been found one of the
first representations of an angel. Could you tell me about it?
Do you think that this site could be connected with the
I can only repeat what I have said above. We are talking about a
cult of birdmen, vulture shamans, who would eventually be
remembered as the Watchers of the Book of Enoch and the
of biblical tradition. No 'angel' has been found at Göbekli Tepe,
simply carved statues of men with wings on their backs. These
hybrids are likely to be
shamans wearing wings, not supernatural
It is worth noting that originally
angels never had wings - these were added to existing stories by
the early Christians during the fourth century AD. In fact,
there are some accounts of Watchers wearing cloaks of feathers,
which in one case was altered in Christian times to read 'wings'
instead of feathers. The adaptation is clumsy, and obvious in
vulture head found at Göbekli Tepe
I also read about the discovery of
similar temples of the same age at Karahantepe, Sefertepe and
Hamzantepe. It was a truly widespread society for the time, and
it could antedate the birth of the Neolithic Age in the area,
according also to the discovery of the Balikligöl statue. What
do you think about it?
There are several new PPN sites being investigated at the moment
in Eastern and Southeast Turkey, and hopefully much new evidence
will emerge in due course. Two PPN sites were recently unearthed
actually inside the city limits of Sanliurfa. Sadly, these
examples were destroyed, with only a few items being
for posterity. One site was Balikligöl, where the idol was
discovered. It is a giant ithyphallic male (image left). What it represents
is anyone's guess, although it has to be connected with
fertility and fecundity of the land.
Much more important is Karahan Tepe, a site only discovered in
the late 1990s and still awaiting full excavation. This is
located near Sogmatar on the Harran Plain, and dates back 11,000
years at least. Already a large number of t-shaped pillars and
stone rows have been uncovered here, and it was their
orientation north and east-north-west that made me realize the
significance of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic mindset in Upper
I began to find that the earliest
Neolithic cult centers, the prototypes of stone circles and
chambered barrows everywhere, were directed roughly north-south.
Since the north was a direction of death and rebirth at Çatal
Hüyük, I quickly realized that the focus of attention at places
such as Karahan Tepe and Göbekli Tepe was the movement of
circumpolar stars around the northern celestial pole, for there
was no Pole Star in c. 9500-9000 BC.
I looked closely at the Skyglobe
astronomical program for these dates, and realized that only one
constellation could have been the object of their gaze, and this
Cygnus, which in European starlore is
the celestial swan.
However, there is clear evidence that in Ancient Mesopotamia
Cygnus was seen as a raptor bird, while in classical myth it was
occasionally seen as a vulture, the symbol of the transmigration
of the soul in the Neolithic cult of the dead.
When I also discovered that the Sabians of Harran - a race of
people known also as the Chaldeans who inhabited Upper
Mesopotamia many thousands of years after the Pre-Pottery
Neolithic peoples vanished from the radar - venerated the north
as the Primal Cause and also the direction of heaven, I knew I
was on to something.
The results of that investigation
are to be found in
THE CYGNUS MYSTERY, which forces us to
re-evaluate everything we thought we know about our early
ancestors' understanding of the cosmos, and our place in it.