World History

Göbekli Tepe D: Mysteries Continue

Göbekli Tepe D: Mysteries Continue

Central Pillars

Stone Guardians

The Oldest Ideagrams?

Exploiting Catastrophobia?

The Final Clue?

Experiencing Enclosure D

Göbekli Tepe D: Mysteries Continue

Central Pillars

They stand side by side in the center of Enclosure D, these two T pillars, even more massive than the ones along the sides. Each is 18 feet tall and weighs 16.5 tons.

If we wondered how the smaller pillars were raised, the difficulty has now multiplied.

How did they stand? These pillars stand in rectangular pedestals carved into the bedrock: but at only 4-6 inches deep, the pillars are unstable.

At the site, they are supported by scaffolding.

That seems odd. It’s not at all what we have come to expect of these precise engineers. Maybe they were stabilized by the roof that they supported at its apex?

Another thing seems odd. The top stones slant downward slightly toward the enclosure entrance.

Stone Guardians

Oh, my goodness!

These pillars represent people! They have skinny arms slanting downward along the broad sides of the uprights. The fingers almost meet on the thin side, just above a belt’s buckle. From the belt hangs a fox (wolf?) pelt loin cloth, the animal’s tail hanging downward. And each “person” wears a neck ornament.

That makes the top stone the head of the statue. There are no features at all!

Now, we have more questions! Was facial identity unimportant? Did one statue represent a group of people instead of an individual? Are features left off as a kind of respect by not reproducing the face?

Who are these stone guardians? Heroes? Gods? Ancestors? All of the above? Is this the long memory of the Sethite line from Adam? Why only two? Why are both men? Is one a chief and the other a shaman?

For that matter, do the other pillars also represent people?

And why is the eastern central pillar more decorated than the western?

The western pillar has a featureless belt and buckle. It has a fox loin cloth. (Was the fox/wolf already the evil trickster it would become in world mythology?)

The head of a horned bull is the neck ornament, and one arm seems to carry a fox.

The eastern pillar’s belt is wide and highly decorated. There are flightless birds on the pedestal.

The Oldest Ideagrams?

Speaking of the decorations, they do not seem random. They are few in variety. The most frequently used are the C and the H…or maybe it’s two connected Ts. All of them are sometimes in these positions, but sometimes on their sides. Does position mean anything?

None of these are obvious carvings of natural things. Yet, they don’t seem to form words. It is thought that these and other less frequent symbols are ideagrams. They express an idea, such as love or war or courage. If so, we don’t know what ideas they represent.

On the neck of the eastern pillar is this: an H, beneath that a doughnut with a hole, and below that a C on its side so it looks like a cup.

The belt is completely decorated with Hs and (s in varied positions. The belt comes around to the front of the pillar where there is an oddly decorated buckle. It is a thick U shape with another inside it. Inside of both is a single thick upright. (See the photo above.)

Exploiting Catastrophobia?

The book interprets the belt buckle symbol as a three-tailed comet that caused massive destruction. It hypothesizes that the Swiderians obtained primacy by exploiting the catastrophobia of other cultures. They offered “protection” from a repeat of the event through knowledge and ceremony.

If that is a three-tailed comet on the buckle, and the Swiderians did act on those fears, it makes sense to give it important placement.

Remember, though, that we have already recognized serious questions about an event of worldwide destruction by a comet. However, comets could have been part of that destruction, perhaps even an early part of the event. In that case, they could be remembered as the heralds of worldwide destruction.

All of this is, of course, speculation.

The Final Clue?

You know, I keep returning to the heads of the central pillars.

It’s not just the featureless visages. It’s the heads themselves.

Why do they bother me? The overall art isn’t naturalistic, so why should I expect the heads to be accurate human heads? After all, there are no legs, and the arms are extremely thin, as if these parts are not important. Perhaps that’s also the message of the blank faces.

But the heads are so very alien! Look at the markedly thin faces. And the proportions of the heads are not even close to normal.

That’s what bothers me: the proportions! The anterior-posterior ratio of each head is significantly longer than the width. In fact, it seems to be accentuated to draw attention to the head.

Maybe that’s why the faces are featureless. It’s the heads that are important.

And the heads are definitely Swiderian!

Experiencing Enclosure D

You are in the time of Enclosure D.

You have never seen the night sky so clear and bright. But it’s normal here and now because this is pre-industrialization.

You enter the Enclosure.

The night sky behind you illuminates the interior darkness in a straight path to the Sighting Stone, the heart of this place. Your eyes are drawn to the hole in the stone, illuminated with its own sky light.

Looming between you and the Sighting Stone are the massive Stone Guardians: two statues of Swiderians whose heads soar into the shadows of the roof, but can be seen bent toward you, staring at you while you enter, as if demanding to know your purpose here.

Slipping sideways to a bench, you are deeply relieved that you will not be the one to walk between those pillars tonight.

Suggested reading:

Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2014, p. 51-56, 120, plates 11-14 and 16.

Photo credit: ©tegmen from

World History

Göbekli Tepe Begins

Göbekli Tepe

Enclosure D: the Earliest Structure

Wall, Benches, and Pillars

The Sighting Stone

The Vulture Stone

Connecting the Sighting Stone and the Vulture Stone

The Center

Göbekli Tepe Begins

Since we are looking at history chronologically, let’s look first at the oldest structure of Göbekli Tepe. Then we will track changes at the site through time.

Enclosure D: the Earliest Structure

We start at Enclosure D (which means it was the fourth to be uncovered). Curiously, it is the largest. Wouldn’t one expect it to be the smallest, with enlargement/development later?

It is also the best preserved: the most carefully packed. Interesting. This site was obviously not left in a hurry. We are looking at a deliberate burial. Why would they do this? Were people planning to return and resume use of this structure?

It is ovoid, rather like an egg, with a ratio of 5:4. Its dimensions are 60 x 45.7 feet. Why did they choose this shape and these dimensions?

The floor is artificially smoothed bedrock. We haven’t seen this before, but we have seen artificially smoothed walls for cave paintings. We now know that the builders were creative enough to repurpose knowledge.

Once all of the fill is removed, we notice that the floor is bare, as if a tidy housewife removed all errata and swept the room before it was filled.  This makes no sense!

Nowhere else in the world has this behavior been discovered.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The builders knew of art in the far west (Spain, France) and the engineering of the Zanzians. They adapted knowledge to their needs here.
  2. Everything in the building and filling is carefully and precisely done. These builders were precise, and the structure was the epitome of art and engineering up to that time—or at least since Noah’s time.

Wall, Benches, and Pillars

The perimeter wall is clearly like architecture we have already seen by the Zarzians. Therefore, the builders were either Zarzians or persons who learned architecture from them. That would be the Swiderians.

Around the walls are benches indicating that this structure was used for one or more kinds of meetings.

Twelve structures interrupt the benches and wall.

Eleven (there used to be twelve) are pillars in the shape of a T, made of an upright slab topped with another rectangular slab, narrow edges together. Other narrow edges of both stones face the center of the space. They are always called pillars, not stelae, indicating they were meant to hold something up, probably a roof.

How did they erect these slabs? And how did they erect the crosspiece on top?

And why are they in the form of a T? A simple upright would support a roof just as well.

The pillars are decorated with carved reliefs of a large variety of species: foxes, birds, snakes, boars, aurochs, gazelles, onagers, and large carnivores. Many of them are in action, even aggression.

Not all of them were native to Turkey at this time. Therefore, the builders were well-traveled, or were people who came here from distant lands, or both.

Were the animals merely décor? Or was this space used for education?

Man is missing. Unlike earlier art, humans are not shown as a part of nature.

Lessons learned:

  1. There is a change in man’s interaction with nature. Man is no longer considered “at one” with nature.
  2. The builders were probably the Swiderians.
    1. They came from west to east and therefore knew animals and art from Spain/France.
    1. Their contact with Zarzians taught them state of the art engineering.
    1. The attitude that man is separate from nature is unique.
    1. Engineering is a huge jump from the Zarzian wall.

The Sighting Stone

The twelfth structure is also rectangular, but with the wide side facing the center. At five feet tall, it is shorter than the T pillars. If the T pillars held up the roof, there is an open space between the top of the sighting stone and the roof.

A hole ten inches in diameter pierces the slab three feet above ground. Because of the hole, this slab is called the Sighting Stone, in reference to the hypotheses that the purpose was to look through the hole. After kneeling, the sky is seen through the hole. However, it’s just as likely that the hole was made for something to pass through as part of a ceremony.

How did they pierce the slab? Why is this stone different? Why was the hole made?

It is directly across from the entrance. Is that significant?

Is this the oldest celestial observatory? What does that say about their beliefs? Or is the interest purely scientific?

The Vulture Stone

The T pillar to the left of the pierced slab is called the Vulture Stone because there are vulture-like birds on it and they seem very important. Remember the birds we looked at earlier? Vultures fit that general description.

On the top half of the pillar’s crosspiece is what looks to be stylized vegetation, like the bushy top of a tree. Along the top above the “tree” are the rectangular shapes with loops looking like a row of handbags.

Below all of this, but still on the crosspiece, are two vultures facing right. Their scrawny necks, wing styles, and hooked beaks make the identity fairly certain. The larger one balances a sphere on its left wing. Is it the sun? A ball?

Above the smaller vulture on the right are two long-necked wader birds in the vegetation.

The carvings on the upright stone that can be clearly seen are a large scorpion and another large vulture with a headless human lying on its neck.

Wait! Is the sphere a human head? In other art of the time a severed human head clearly indicated the soul of a dead person. Is the vulture responsible for transporting the soul to its final destination?

Are we looking at evidence of a religious bird cult?

In that case, maybe this is a temple after all! Of course to determine that, we must find connections between meetings that were held here and the bird cult. We haven’t found any.

Connecting the Sighting Stone and the Vulture Stone

An interesting hypothesis is suggested in the book Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods. It is particularly interesting because traditional dating and biblical dating are now drawing close.

According to the hypothesis, the builders had a bird cult centered on the vulture. Cult worship may not have been the only kind of meetings in Enclosure D. After all, religion and education have co-existed throughout time. Perhaps feasts and funerals were also held there.

The shaman or perhaps any worshipper walked from the entrance to the Sighting Stone. There was interest and knowledge in astronomy, and maybe astrology as well.

At the time that Enclosure D was built, the hole in the stone would have directed sight to Cygnus, the Swan. When the star pattern of Cygnus is overlaid onto a vulture, it fits!

So, the builders knew the constellation Swan as the Vulture constellation. And it is to that constellation that the soul of the dead man is being carried.

Why is the large (and therefore important) scorpion below the vulture with the “head?” At that time, the Milky Way’s Great Rift stretched from Scorpio, which represented earth, to Cygnus, the heavenly destination. The vulture with the headless body is below the scorpion.

The hypothesis says that the sighting hole is also a “soul hole” through which the dead person’s soul could escape and be directed toward its destination.

The wavy lines around the hole are seen as a woman’s body, and the hole is then just where the vulva would be.

Remember, all of this is only hypothesis. There is no proof.

The Center

We’re not done yet! In the center of the enclosure are more structures and more mysteries! We’ll look at that next time.

Suggested Reading:

Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear& Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2014, p. 45-46, 84-87, 98-106.

Photo credit: Thankful Photography at

World History

Göbekli Tepe: Site of Megalithic Mystery

Göbekli Tepe: Site of Megalithic Mystery

The Discovery

Peculiar Site

Mysteries Already!

Beware of Bias!

Göbekli Tepe: Site of Megalithic Mystery

Long before the mighty stones of the pyramids and Stonehenge were erected, mammoth megaliths soared skyward on a mountain in Turkey. The oldest site with gargantuan architecture is known as Göbekli Tepe. And it was almost lost forever.

The Discovery

A 1963 archaeological team noted several knolls on a black limestone plateau of a mountain ridge 750 meters above sea level. It’s fifty miles from where we identified the site of the Garden of Eden. Today, the nearest city is Şanliurfa.

The man-made mound consists of earth and rock debris. To the west was a large collection of stone tools. Also present were cut and dressed slabs with some attempt at carved relief.

An expert decided that it was the remains of a Byzantine cemetery. The team lost interest.

In October 1994, Professor Klaus Schmidt decided to survey the area before it was given to limestone quarrying. Professor Schmidt immediately recognized the slab architecture as similar to other sites in the area.

Göbekli Tepe was saved! But not even Schmidt guessed the massive amount of discovery and mystery he was about to uncover.

Returning with a complete dig team, Schmidt and his team drove as close to the barren Germuş mountain rangeas possible. They hiked to the top of the highest mountain. They carried all of their food, clothes, and equipment with them.

Peculiar Site

Very difficult to access, but widely visible, Göbekli Tepe was far from the nearest springs. The quarry from which the stone slabs were cut was at the bottom of the mountain. Items still waiting to be discovered had sometimes traveled hundreds of miles to be used at this place.

The mound perched on the mountain peak, widely visible in every direction. It was one thousand feet in diameter, the length of 2 ¾ football fields.

Schmidt dug into the mound. The debris was a mixture of limestone rubble, flint artifacts, stone vessels and tools, and a large number of animal bones.

He hit stone. He used his tools to check the age of the dig site. He couldn’t believe the reading. He checked again.

The site, known as Göbekli Tepe, was far older than any other megalithic site in the world. It would change everything that historians had believed about ancient people!

Mysteries Already!

Schmidt’s team had barely begun. Mysteries already confronted them.

  1. Why was such a remote site chosen?
  2. How did they transport megaliths from the bottom of the mountain to the building site at the mountain top?
  3. Who built it?
  4. Why?
  5. Where did they get the large numbers of laborers?
  6. How did laborers maintain hydration?
  7. Surrounding villages were hunter-gatherer settlements. Did this construction change them to agrarian?
  8. And most of all, why was the architecture buried? For it became obvious while they dug deeper that the fill had been carefully packed in and around structures, possibly in an effort to preserve them, as if the builders intended to return.

Even today, decades later, we don’t know most of the answers. But digging continues.

Beware of Bias!

Nearly every reference to Göbekli Tepe calls it The First Temple. If you read Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods you will find most of the book filled with hypotheses. Now, I find hypotheses interesting, but most of these are based on later archeological finds.

It is illogical to base hypotheses about the first of anything on later similar finds. It’s possible that aspects of the early site were appropriated later for purposes different than was intended originally.

Any hypotheses we discuss will be related to facts and authorities already established. The basic difficulty is that we are still dealing with preliterate cultures. The builders can’t tell us the answers.

Suggested Reading:

Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Beer & Company, Rochester Vermont, 2014, p. 18, 23, 28.

World History

The Dominators!

black sphere in palm

A Different Look

The Journey

Vanishing Point

The Dominators!

     The Swiderians were a different kind of people. They looked different. They traveled west to east: opposite of all other cultures. The restless people didn’t stay long in most places, as seen by relatively few hunting remains. Traversing the treacherous territory of Eastern Europe and the western Near East required humans of tremendous willpower and endurance.

     Like vacuum cleaners, the Swiderians sucked up the cultures, skills, territory, resources, and learning of others until they emerged the dominant culture.

A Different Look

     The Swiderians had skulls that were dolichocephalic. That is, the anterior-posterior length was unusually long compared to the width of the skull. Their faces were thin with prominent and massive brow ridges, slanted foreheads, high cheekbones, and strong chins. They were significantly taller and larger than other people.

The Journey

     Swiderian travels can be traced by their unique tanged and leaf shaped points. We see settlements first along the Vistula, Oder, and Warta Rivers of northern Poland. The Swiderians then ranged east to settle on the Dneiper, Volga, Oka, and Don Rivers in Russia.

      Then came a major shift: in central Poland the Swiderians developed efficient mining of exotic forms of flint, hematite, and ochre. They commanded these important resources of paint and points and discovered that they loved to trade.

     But the Polish mines lacked the volcanic glass called obsidian that everyone craved for scalpel-sharp points on weapons and tools. The Swiderians set out toward the known sites of this mineral, determined to dominate that trade also.

     They traveled south into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, which held three sources of obsidian.

     From there, some continued south to the Crimea. Whereas there were no sources of obsidian in the Crimea, the area has always been a trade crossroads. Perhaps that it why the Crimea was chosen as their destination. And there, the Swiderians would have met the Zarzians!

     It was probably the eastern Swinderians who travelled south to the Caucasus Mountains where there were five sources of obsidian.

     A short but difficult trip south from there would find them reaching the three sites in the Armenian highlands—and the Zarzian mines.

 Vanishing Point

   It is at this time in history when the Zarzians, their unique culture, and their trade empire vanish.

     Were the Zarzians forced to give up their trade by right of conquest? Perhaps.

     But the Swiderians seem to be more inclined to diplomacy, perhaps sharing cultures and knowledge with the Zanzians.

     Then, like an amoeba, they may have figuratively surrounded the Zanzians and absorbed them into an enriched Swiderian culture.

Suggested reading:

Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods. Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2014, p. 168-194, 215-217.

Photo credit: Julia Bogdan at Unsplash

World History

Back to North America: Clovis Culture


The Clovis Culture

How Early Cultures Fit Together

Back to North America: Clovis Culture

After the Pre-Clovis culture disappeared from North America, the Clovis people showed up. They, too, are thought to have originated in Siberia. (What was it about Siberia? And where did Siberian people come from?)

Instead of wandering through Europe, the Clovis people traveled through Mongolia to Alaska, possibly over a land bridge between Alaska and Asia.

Their presence is noted in fifteen hundred locations across the United States (except Florida) and also down into Central, then South America. They, too, disappeared.

Like the Soluteans, the Clovis people are known for a unique weapon “point.” They flint knapped and pressure flaked their points.

But Clovis points, made from flint, jasper, chert, and obsidian, have a concave base with a groove on each side extending one-third of its length. This is called “fluting,” and it allowed the point to be fastened onto the arrow or spear shaft rather than just being tied onto it.

Because these points have not been found in Siberia or Mongolia, it is thought the points were developed in North America. Maybe they found Pre-Clovis points and they inspired the Clovis people?

Clovis tools also included end scrapers (tools with the scraper on the end) for processing hides, gravers and burins for engraving, spokeshaves for woodworking, and “wrenches” for straightening shafts.

The disappearance of the Clovis people coincided with a return of cold weather that destroyed the plant food of both animals and people.

During this time, a number of animals became extinct: giant bison, mastodon, gomphotheres (elephant-like mammals with four enormous tusks: two upper and two lower), giant sloths, tapir, camelops (a camel seven feet tall at the shoulder), horses, and some smaller animals.

Their disappearance was probably a combination of climate change and overhunting.

One grave containing two teenagers was found with grave goods. Powdered red ochre was found on the remains.

So, what happened to the Clovis people? Did they starve?

How Early Cultures Fit Together

Traditional DatingCulture

40,000 BCarcheological site lowest level at Kostenski, Central Russia

23,000 BCSolutrean culture established in Europe

19,000 BCZarzian culture appears in the Caucasus and Zagros regions

18,000 BCSolutreans arrive in North America? Pre-Clovis culture

14,500 BCSolutreans disappear

13,000 BCEnd of the last Ice Age

11,300 BCClovis culture appears in North America

11,000 BCSwiderian culture appears in Central Europe

10,500Swiderian culture enters eastern Anatolia?

10,500Zarzian culture vanishes

I’ll bet you have guessed which culture we will look at next time!

Suggested Reading:

Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Co., Rocherster, Vermont, 2014, p.372-375, “Appendix: Useful Dates” from which the table above is drawn.

Photo credit: Brian_Brockman at

World History

Zarzians: Full of Surprises!


Wandering Life

Hallan Ϛemi Settlement


Zarzians Vanish

Zarzians: Full of Surprises!

Wandering Life

Signs of this culture are first seen along the Don River south of Moscow and flowing into the Bay of Azov. This empties into the Black Sea.

We also find them in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and south into the Armenian Highlands, then farther south to the Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq and northwestern Iran.

The Armenian Highlands gave them control of multiple sources of obsidian: a rock highly desired for tools and weapon points.

In general, though, they kept moving. They were early Middle Eastern users of the bow and arrow. They hunted red deer, onager (wild ass), wild cattle, wild sheep, and wild goats.

Zarzians domesticated dogs early in their culture. Quite possibly the dogs were protectors and hunters.

Hallan Ϛemi Settlement

The clock was ticking.

A dam was being built to regulate the Batman River in eastern Turkey. When finished, an entire area north of the near-joining of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers would form a lake.

Archaeologists had little time to discover and recover any sites of interest. One site they saved was Hallan Ϛemi. (That’s pronounced H + the name Alan, Semi as in semicolon.)

Hallan Ϛemi is the oldest permanently settled village in the area, possibly in the world. And it was built by Zarzians.

They lived there for a long time. There are three building phases. In the center is a natural three foot diameter pit used for garbage and possibly ceremonial purposes. Huts were built around this pit.

The huts had stone foundations, which were below ground. The walls were of wattle and daub construction (wooden rods woven with twigs and plastered with clay). The roof was woven branches. The nearby forest was one reason why this location was chosen.

Earlier huts were made with sandstone block foundations six feet in diameter. Each hut was surrounded by a plastered wall creating a space about three feet wide for domestic activities. Because the huts were so small, they were probably used only for sleeping.

Later structures were constructed with stone from the nearby river. Had skills been lost?

Besides huts, there were two larger buildings, each eighteen feet in diameter, with stone benches and plastered hearths. The presence of exotic materials and a skull of wild cattle that had hung on the wall indicate that these structures had community ceremonial use.


A true village, the quantity and quality of work indicates separation of labor.

  1. Engineering and building trades (supervisors and workers) for constructing the site.
  2. Gatherers of bitter vetch, wild lentils, seeds, almonds, and pistachios.
    1. Surprise! No cereal grains were harvested. This was a blow to the theory that settlement was invented by farmers.
  3. Gatherers of turtles and clams from the nearby river.
    1. Surprise! It is the year-round gathering of clams, as noted by shell growth rings, which proves that people stayed all year: a permanent village.
  4. Hunters of wild sheep, wild goat, wild cattle, onager, and red deer.
  5. Trainers to teach dogs to protect the village and help the hunters.
  6. Pig farmers who caught wild pigs outside the village or ones nosing the garbage pit and domesticated them.
    1. Surprise! The second domesticated animal was the pig, not a sheep or goat.
  7. Stone carvers to create elaborate bowls and pestles decorated most often with vipers (Here’s the serpent again!), and also mundane tools and weapons points.
    1. Surprise! No one expected elaborate stoneware.
  8. Miners who went to the highlands to extract obsidian.
  9. Traders of obsidian and crafted weapon points and tools.
  10. Care-givers/teachers of babies and small children.
  11. Possibly spiritual/religious/celebration leaders.
    1. Surprise! The purpose of the settlement was trade between the Zarzians and the wandering people to the south.

This is the first time we see a true culture!

Zarzians Vanish

Zarzians are around longer than most cultures, but then vanish!

Suggested Readings:

Collin, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Co. Rochester, Vermont, 2014, p.197-201.

Photo Credit: Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

World History

Lascaux Cave

cave painting - aurochs bulls

Treasure Discovered!

The Art

Touring the Cave

Horse: a Closer Look

Lascaux Cave

Treasure Discovered!

It’s September 12, 1940. You are fourteen year old Rascal Ravidat. You and your dog Robot are walking and romping in the crisp autumn air.

Robot runs toward an uprooted tree. He noses the ground. With a yelp, he disappears!

“Robot!” you shout while dashing after him. You can hear Robot whining and barking.

You rush to the spot. There’s the hole! And somewhere down there in the darkness is Robot. His bark sounds far away. There’s no way you can reach him.

“Robot, I have to get help. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Dashing back to your house, you locate three older friends and explain the situation. Everyone urgently packs for underground exploration, adding shovels to enlarge the hole.

When you and your friends return to Robot, he barks ecstatically. You shine a powerful flashlight down the hole. Robot is about fifty feet down!

“We’re coming for you, Robot!”

Shovels dig into the edges around the hole, throwing dirt in all directions.  

The most experienced spelunker inspects the shaft. “It’s an easy climb back up. Maybe it’s the secret tunnel to Lascaux Manor. The tree grew over the hole and hid the entrance. That’s why it’s never been found.”

“The tunnel that leads to another tunnel, then treasure?” you ask excitedly.

He nods. “I’ll go down first.” He lowers himself a few feet then scrambles back up. “Yes, easy.” He disappears down the shaft.

Silence. More silence. Agonizing silence.

“Are you all right down there?” you shout.

“You fellows have to see this!”

You wriggle into the shaft, your heart pounding. Down you go into the darkness. At the bottom you squirm around and out of the shaft.

Robot is wriggling his whole self, jumping up on you and licking you. You kneel and hug him fiercely. “You’re okay, Robot. We’re here to get you out.”

You look toward your friend. His flashlight reveals the drawing of a horse on a cave wall. At the edges of the light, parts of other animals fade into the darkness.

“Whoa!” you say, switching on your flashlight. The walls are covered with a variety of animals.

After your other friends arrive, your group explores the cave. There is room after room of drawings! Walls and ceilings are covered with six thousand figures representing animals, humans, and geometric art.

After resurfacing with Robot, you and your friends rush to the authorities.

The curator of the Prehistory Museum, a sketcher, and two other men return to the shaft site with you and your friends. You lead the first guided tour of Lascaux Cave.

The authorities, stunned by the art work, declare that this is the oldest art found yet. Its value is infinitely more than the treasure chest you were seeking.

The Art

Lascaux Cave, made of limestone, is located near Montignac, France.  The art work is traditionally dated at 15,000 B.C.

Damage was extensive during the fifteen years the public was allowed access. The cave was closed and the art work restored. A series of replicas were made for the public so they could still experience the art and, in some cases, the feel of entering the cave.

The art is not the same throughout. In some places, the rock is softer than others allowing etching instead of painting. Unfortunately, the etchings have not survived well.

Most areas have been brush painted with the common colors of red, yellow, and black. Ochre and hematite were used. So was goethite, which is reddish-brown or yellowish-brown. Manganese-containing pigments delivered silver-gray results. Charcoal may have been used, but if it was, it was used sparingly.

The art on some walls may have been painted with pigment suspended in animal fat or calcium-rich cave groundwater or clay. This suspension was applied by swabbing or blotting it on the wall instead of using a brush. We haven’t seen these techniques before!

The source of the pigments has been traced to a site two hundred miles away! Surely, this is not graffiti. The art had great importance to those who drew it and those who saw it.

Touring the Cave

Let’s take a tour.

We are in the Hall of Bulls (actually they are aurochs bulls). Some figures are immense: up to sixteen and a half feet long! Does their size indicate importance? Or is it actual life size? That’s something we have not seen before.

Two rows of aurochs face each other. On the north side of the wall, two aurochs are accompanied by ten horses and a large unidentified animal with two straight lines on its forehead, affectionately called “the unicorn.”

On the south side, three large aurochs are next to three smaller ones painted red. They are accompanied by six small deer and the only bear in the cave. For some reason, the bear is drawn on the belly of an aurochs.

One of the bulls is seventeen feet long, the largest cave art yet discovered! Also, the bulls seem to be in motion. (Why only the bulls?)

Now we enter the Axial Diverticulum. Here, the bulls, horses, deer, and an ibex cover the walls. One running horse was brushed with manganese pencil. On the ceiling, animals seem to roll from one wall to the other. Among the figures are many geometric shapes: sticks, dots, and rectangles.

The Passage is too damaged to examine.

The Nave has four groups of figures accompanied by geometric shapes. The groups are the Empreinte (Footprint) panel, the Black Cow panel, the Swimming Deer panel, and the Crossed Buffalo panel.

The hind legs of the Crossed Buffalo (actually a Bison) are crossed, giving the impression that one leg is nearer the viewer than the other. Although primitive, this is the oldest example of the use of perspective!

The Feline Diverticulum seems to be an area of practice or experimentation. Named for a group of felines, engravings of wild animals can be seen in naïve style. A figure of a horse is unique because of its head-on pose.

The Apse contains more than a thousand engravings, some of which are superimposed over paintings. The Apse contains the only reindeer in the cave. This is odd because reindeer is thought to have been the main staple of the people’s diet.

The Well is the site of a mysterious scene. A man with a bird’s head and erect penis seems to lie on the ground. At his side is either a long-legged bird or a bird on a pole. To the man’s right is a buffalo facing the man and transfixed by a spear from its anus through its belly. Intestines hang out. A geometric sign runs from the spear point to the bird. To the left of the man, a rhinoceros moves away.

Horse: a Closer Look

Let’s look closely at the horse painting above.

The first thing that strikes us are the proportions of the horse. Compared to today’s horse, which is the result of thousands of years of breeding, this horse has short legs and a bulky torso.

The yellow coloring gives rounding to the hip and rib cage. Black highlights the mane, face, and legs. There is attention to detail even to the feathering over the fetlocks!

Perspective is artfully shown between near and far legs.

What I find amazing is the artistry of movement. The legs show activity, probably a trot. The tail does not hang downward as in a walk, but neither is it streaming behind as it would be in a gallop.

The characteristics of the rock is used for the path. A path always indicates travel. It inclines upward and seems to turn away from us.  This change of view is emphasized by the shorter front legs and the tiny head.

Movement is represented in art by diagonal lines. This technique is used copiously by this artist. The longest diagonal reaches from the horse’s poll to the end of the tail. All legs and the neck are diagonal, as is the mane. The horse is moving through a field of grain, perhaps wheat, represented by individual stalks, all of which are bent diagonally.

I am awestruck at the quality of this art!

Suggested Reading:

Photo credit: found on Adobe

World History

Cave and Creek


Theopetra Cave

Buttermilk Creek

Cave and Creek

Theopetra Cave

This cave, found in Thessaly, Greece, contains the oldest man-made structure still standing. It is a stone wall. It partially blocks the cave entrance.

Traditionally dated at 21,000 B.C., it is thought to have protected residents from the cold of the last ice age. It would also have protected them from enemies, human or animal, who penetrated the cave.

In the soft floor of the cave a trail of footprints was found indicating the presence of three or more children between the ages of two and four.

This is another limestone cave, so flood theorists would say the wall dates after the flood.

Buttermilk Creek

This area near Salado, Texas is by far the largest and most varied site of the First People in North America (called pre-Clovis).

The people would have been drawn to this place by a dependable water source, favorable climate, and abundant food, but also because it was a source of chert, which was used for weapons.

Hammer stones were used to chip chert to the general shape required, then smaller antlers pressure-flaked the weapon, fine tuning it.

The oldest manufactured weapons discovered in North America are three to four inch spear points traditionally dated at 15,500 B.C.

Altogether, 15,528 blades and tools have been found at Buttermilk Creek.

There are other probable pre-Clovis sites that have not yet been certified for various reasons. The sites are widespread: South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oregon.

Suggested Readings:

Photo credit: david-tip on

World History

Cave Paintings: Art or Grafitti?

cave painting

Cave of El Castillo

Cave of Altamira

Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave (Chauvet Cave)

Cave Paintings: Art or Graffiti?

Cave of El Castillo

This cave is located on the northern coast of Spain in the Cantabria region. It is part of the Caves of Cantabria UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are many petrographs in the caves. Unlike a petroglyph, which is a carving, a petrograph is a “writing,” and before writing it was a drawing.

We are only interested in the oldest, because it is the oldest in the world!

This petrograph is a red stippled disc. Is it the sun? No one knows.

It is traditionally dated at 40,000 B.C.: about 100,000 years later than Murujuga.

Did it survive the flood? Normally paint would not survive. It would have had to exist in a hard rock cave that was thoroughly sealed.

These are limestone caves. Flood theorists expect that soft rock caves like these were caused by the scouring of the flood cataclysm. Therefore, even the oldest painting was drawn after the flood.

Cave of Altamira

The Cave of Altamira, which is close to the Cave of El Castillo, was formed by early karst formation. The topography was formed by dissolution of “soft” or carbonate rocks such as limestone. It includes a barren rocky top layer with no rivers or streams. Underneath is the water and drainage system: rivers, fountains, caves, and sinkholes.

Flood theorists think all “soft” caves were likely caused by the flood.

Let’s talk about the petrographs. They are traditionally dated at 36,000 B.C.

The art is amazing! It’s on the walls, yes, but also across the ceiling!

What a crick in the neck! How did they get up there? Did the artists build scaffolding? Wait. We don’t picture ancient people able to build and use scaffolding! Time to readjust our mindsets—again.

Animals and abstract shapes are painted in polychromic style using the natural color of the rock, charcoal, and ochre or hematite.

Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment. It consists of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand resulting in pigments from yellow to deep orange to brown.

Hermatite is a reddish-black mineral that can be crushed into pigment.

Animals in different poses were drawn with multiple colors from yellow to orange to reddish brown to black.

But the pigments were not only used in their natural state. Sometimes they were diluted. This variation in intensity produced a study in light and dark, and a sense of shadow.

As if that wasn’t enough, the artists used the cracks and shapes of the rock itself as part of their art. For instance, a bison could be drawn over a bulge in the rock in such a way that the bulge becomes the bison’s rounded ribcage!

Yes, the picture above is from Altimira, and you can see the rounded shoulder and ribcage. Look at the shading! The anatomical detail!

These people are way beyond my pay grade.

Later art included hand stencils. These were made by placing a hand on the rock and blowing pigment over them, possibly using a tube.

When calculations proved that these handprints were usually female, feminists rejoiced. The assumption that men were the artists because they were the shamans (and who says that’s true?) had been debunked!

Steady there. That could be true. Or perhaps male artists preferred female prints and used hand models.

This glorious art is no graffiti!

cave painting

Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave (Chauvet Cave)

The cave is located near southeastern France. The soft, clay-like floor retains paw prints of cave bears and depressions thought to be “nests” where they slept. Skulls of cave bears and an ibex are present. There are also paw prints of a dog or wolf.

There are also the footprints of a child.

The art is traditionally dated at 30,000 B.C.

There are no complete human figures. A few panels of red ochre hand-prints exist. Abstract lines and dots are found throughout the cave. Hundreds of animal paintings fall into at least thirteen species. Frequently painted cave art animals include horses, aurochs (a large, wild Eurasian ox, predecessor of today’s cattle), and mammoths.

The above Chauvet Cave petroglyph is a horse.

But many predatory animals are also included: cave lions, leopards, bears, and cave hyenas. They also painted rhinoceroses! Rhinoceroses in France?

Three artistic techniques were used here that were rarely used elsewhere.

The first seems like common sense, but it wasn’t common: scraping the cave wall clear of debris before beginning to paint. This left a smooth, lighter surface.

Second, artists sometimes incised or etched around the outlines of certain figures, giving them a three-dimensional quality. These figures also seem to move. Because only some figures are chosen, the question rises whether this technique indicated these figures were more important.

The last technique is one of scenes. Animals are sometimes shown as interacting with each other. A pair may be butting heads in a mastery contest.

Why are we so excited about the scenes? There are scenes in the Australian petroglyphs.

Ah, but apparently in Europe that composition had been lost. At Chauvet it was rediscovered.

Reading Suggestions:

Photo credits:

Altamira: Jesusdefuensanta on
Chauvet: atlanta-kid on

World History

Dating the Oldest Sites and Art

Petroglyphs in Utah.
These petroglyphs are in Utah.

Struggling to Find the Correct Dates

Murujuga: The Oldest Existing Art


Artistry Not Graffiti

Struggling to Find the Correct Dates

Until the geological ages are recalculated according to modern findings, we must struggle with dating inconsistencies between traditional geologic dating and Genesis dating. Perhaps they will never coincide.

There are very old skeletons, campsites, and tools scattered throughout the earth. Both human civilization theories acknowledge this evidence, although the dating will be different. The point is that flood theorists acknowledge there may have been items like these before the flood.

Some people have always been wanderers and adventurers, so the widespread geographical range of the items should not be a surprise, especially if there was only one continent.

By evolutionary theory and traditional understanding of ancient civilizations, humans at each site should progress from gatherers to hunter/fishers with campsites to primitive settlements for farmers of grains and livestock to towns of shared responsibilities to cities with established culture.

Flood theorists think that what is found at a particular site depends on when the people left the cradle of civilization. If they left before much was discovered, we can expect a hunter-fisher community. If they left later, we may see forms of architecture and artistry.

Murujuga: The Oldest Existing Art

Murujuga is the aboriginal name for Dampier Island, the Burrup peninsula, and the collection of islands around them in northwestern Australia.

This World Heritage Site is comprised of multiple sites and contains the only rock art with meaning for a living culture. This is stunning because we have people who know the meanings of the rocks and can explain their importance!

To the Ngurra-ra Ngarli, Murujuga is the place where everything is connected: plants and animals, land and sea, the Lore (rules of behavior) and the spiritual world.

All was made and is maintained by the Ancestor Beings called Marrga, who created it all during the Dreaming times (their term) when the world was soft. They were also the artists of the petroglyphs.

Traditional dating puts this art at more than 45,000 years B.C.

Flood theorists could easily accept this art as predating the flood. The rock is hard enough to have survived. But the original hard volcanic rock was shattered into pieces. How? Is this another result of the flood?

That brings up another question: Were the carvings created before the rock shattered (in which case the meaning could be quite different) or afterward?


Unfortunately, there are claims that as much as 24.4 per-cent of the rock art was destroyed by industry before the heritage site was protected.

There remains more than a million petroglyphs. These are carvings in rock made by a hammer stone and a chisel. This chips away the dark outer rock, exposing a lighter rock within. The act of carving gives depth to the art.

What did the artists carve? They carved the animals they knew including some that no longer exist such as the enormous flat-tailed kangaroo. The extinct Tasmanian tiger was much on their minds. It is seen everywhere. Nail-tailed wallabies and crocodiles still exist, but not in this part of Australia.

Geometric shapes were also carved.

There are carvings of human activity sometimes arranged in complex scenes of everyday living such as hunting, or special ceremonial activities

Hunting with an atlatl is depicted: a weapon with a sharp curve similar to the boomerang. It was better than the spear or arrow. Instead of using the arm’s strength alone, the atlatl extended the arm and enhanced the stroke power.

There is one odd petroglyph that defies explanation, according to a professional video of the site. The archaeologist describes it as a human like figure with horns and a forked tail. Not only is this reminiscent of European Middle Ages depictions of Satan, but this carving was done when there were no horned animals on Australia.

Artistry Not Graffiti

A variety of methods were used to create the art: abrading, pecking, pounding, rubbing, scoring, and scraping. Both naturalistic (clearly representing existing things in nature) and abstract styles were used. Static figures are abstract. Squatting, standing, and running persons are carved with serpentine arms. This could be additional indication of movement.

A person climbing is very unusual on petroglyphs. Face portraits are rare. Both exist at Murujuga!

What is awesome is not just the number of petroglyphs, but also that the volcanic rock into which they are carved is extremely hard! It is so inflexible that heat and cold crack it. It’s also why it could survive the flood.

What We Learn From Murujuga

With the help of the Ngurra-ra Ngarli, we know the meaning and purpose of many petroglyphs, things that will help us interpret later sites.

  1. Image groupings were intentional. They recorded how to live, how to conduct ceremonies, and acted as a school poster board for education (kinds of animals).
  2. The positioning of images were placed with intention. Very important petroglyphs were placed where they were easily seen.
  3. The carvings denoted people arriving from throughout Pilbara for trade, marriage, kinship, and use of resources.
  4. This happens to this day. Varying language groups can all use the petroglyphs to refresh their memories because the art conveys the information, words do not.
  5. Stories of the Dreaming are maintained and told by “special curators” (UNESCO’s term) using petroglyphs. This is very important because if other cultures had petroglyphs or petrographs (paintings) for reference, the accuracy value of cultural legends would skyrocket.
  6. The guardians are not given a priestly title indicating that they do not act as a pathway to the Ancestors, but as teachers who helps each person find the way.
  7. Songs and ceremonies go with many of the images.
  8. Because Murujuga is believed to be the center of all things, maintenance is critical because there is still spiritual power in the glyphs. The spiritual ceremonies connect today’s people to the spirit power of the petroglyphs and the Ancestors. The released power maintains the planet for all of us.

We can also make other observations.

Today’s people were found as a hunter-fisher culture despite the advanced past this art

suggests. The traditional civilization theory is debunked. Cultures can devolve.

Although the Ancestors did the work of gods, they are not addressed as such. Nor can I find a reference that indicates that they were worshipped.

There is no indication that they were aliens from another world or another dimension. It seems they were humans with an advanced civilization who shared secrets with the people. The people today do their part in maintaining the spiritual power.

Aliens or ancestors? Which is the most likely answer to worldwide puzzles of great architectural feats?

Remember the rule: the simplest answer is usually correct. That would be ancestors.

Flood theorists would point out that Noah lived a long life: long enough to learn all of his culture’s knowledge and skill. His sons and their wives would have learned much before entering the ark. These four men and their wives would have educated their children.

But people now lived shorter lives due to a hostile, dangerous world. They had less time to master all of the knowledge, so they began to specialize.

When the adventurers wandered away, specializing in survival, other skills were lost.

Further Reading:

Murujuga information:

Murujuga map and example of petroglyph

Photo credits:  dallasgolden@unsplash