The Mysterious Skull Cult of Göbekli Tepe: An 11,500 year old temple is just the beginning of the story

It was very interesting this week to see a press release from the German archaeologist Julia Gresky regarding an obvious skull cult at Göbekli Tepe dating back to around 11,500 years ago at the great stone temples discovered under a large mound in southern Turkey at the head waters of the Tigris Euphrates rivers.  Göbekli Tepe has been a mystery since it was first discovered in the mid 1990s as the 40 ton stone pillars built there with intricate carvings defy logic as measured against what we typically think of regarding human evolution from hunters and gathers, farmers, then city-state administrators. Rather, the temple is evidence that extremely advanced engineering, and astronomical understandings were present at the end of the last Ice Age and this is something that just wasn’t part of our understanding of human development up to this point. And now, with the announcement of this skull cult we have evidence of an elaborate understanding of a long gone religion that started in the cradle of civilization well before the Sumerians would rise to power further downstream many thousands of years later.  Göbekli Tepe is mysterious for a lot of reasons but one thing is absolutely known because of it—that we are just dipping our feet into the depths of history.  There is much more to discover and we must be open to those discoveries so that we can learn from that history and not follow the Vico cycle into what has obviously happened to mankind in the past—and keep making the same mistakes over and over each time the human mind makes some major advancement then collapse on itself out of sheer stupidity.

Göbekli Tepe is a fine example of how the Vico cycle has transpired over many thousands of years to see a declining culture transpire over time instead of an ever-present increase in thought which most of our sciences assume.  The mistake is in taking for granted that once a scientific discovery is made—such as fire—that forever it will remain in the catalogue of human behavior.  Once we learn it—we keep it so to say.  But this isn’t the case.  Just as in our present age where our political aspects lean toward regression we find that current generations of people are actually less equipped to care for intellectual knowledge than previous ones and thus the Vico cycle moves through its various phases, theocracy, aristocracy, democracy and then ultimately anarchy only to begin again to start completely over.  In some cases the process takes thousands of years.  In others it only takes a few hundred—but the human mind seems to be a prisoner to this trend by their own inclination.  At Göbekli Tepe the once advanced founders had their work buried and less equipped monuments were built upon the originals and this went on for a long time until the site was just buried under a massive mound that many thought was just a giant hillside.  We are learning only now that we must never take for granted any hillside that we see anywhere in the world because under some of them are the origins to many of our myths and legends which are awaiting discovery.  There is so much that we don’t understand.

My personal feelings about these discovers are perhaps more objective than even those of the scientists who discover these great finds because I am able to have my feet in many different worlds and have a perspective driven by freedom that they don’t enjoy—such as the archaeologist Julia Gresky.  I live in a very affluent area of the world where all the gifts of culture are presented from fine food to literature and advanced tools easily accessible through my local hardware stores.  I have access on a daily basis the greatest tools created by the human mind and I live in an economy that allows me to participate in those creations freely.  But as I’ve traveled to different places around the world it is very obvious that not everyone is so gifted and many cultures are essentially still hunters and gatherers.  Human advancement does not occur and give rise to all people everywhere. Many are limited by religious beliefs which prevent them from properly interacting with advanced cultures—or they for one reason or another are not economically able to engage in trade with a more advanced society.  For instance in present day America it is unlikely that a typical Santa Monica resident from California will interact with a village in Ghana, Africa.  The only way they might meet each other is if the Ghana resident shows up one day in Southern California looking for a job and is willing to leave behind their homeland for opportunities. Because the Santa Monica resident just won’t be giving up everything in their life to live in a hut in Ghana—they’d have to give up most everything they know about the world to even participate in such a thing.  So the exchange of knowledge won’t happen—and that is in our present day of global communication and easy travel from one place to another.  I am often surprised how primitive people become right out of big cities in Europe, Asia and even around the Americas.  It’s not hard for me to see how Neolithic people may have developed separately around the world such as at Göbekli Tepe while hunters and gatherers in England were freely walking across the English Channel into France hunting animals as nomads.  They may have run into and even traded with people from Göbekli Tepe and other advanced cultures who had developed engineering abilities but it may have taken many thousands of years for that intellectual information to find its way into the static cultures of their less advanced societies.  That is easy for me to see where scientists like Julia Gresky spend much of their time season after season begging for funding then digging and digging on a very focused site like Göbekli Tepe to bring about more information like this recent skull cult evidence—which was assumed very early on but only recently was confirmed with all her hard work.  Our evidence collection is slow at best but the assumptions of cause and effect can easily be made by global comparisons for those fortunate enough to have that exposure.

I continue to think that we are just scratching the surface in regards to our history.  I think we’ll find even more advanced temples and cities the deeper we dig that are even older than Göbekli Tepe.  I would offer that many of them are under water since ocean levels were vastly different during this post Ice Age period and over time we’ll discover them so long as we can avoid the effects of the Vico cycle.  I would offer that the many wars in the region of Göbekli Tepe are created to avoid the discovers which await us in the many mounds of the region showing us that societies like the Sumerians were just distant descendents to cultures who founded Göbekli Tepe.  We won’t know until we do proper archaeological investigation and you can’t do that so long as there are wars over regional interpretations of religion between Christianity and Islam texts identifying boundaries established by kings of recent memory.  Obviously the history extends well beyond those recent developments and the Vico cycle insists on destroying the past so that the current can survive and that is the element which drives the cycle of madness—and so long as that continues—we’ll never get anywhere.  Bu the evidence does keep coming in for those willing to look at it and the discovery of the skull cult at Göbekli Tepe is quite compelling.  We need to let the evidence take us where it will—because we still have a lot to learn and by learning it—we may save mankind once and for all which I think is a noble pursuit.

Rich Hoffman

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