World History

Göbekli Tepe: What Have We Learned?

held upright fork

We’ve spent a lot of time on Göbekli Tepe. We’re done. It’s time to “put a fork in it” and examine what we have learned.

The facts are what we see at the site. The rest is speculation.

What is the strongest line of logic?

  1. The site must have been chosen for a purpose since there were so many negatives: scaling the highest mountain in the range and hauling supplies up to it, no fresh water, quarries some distance away, and ignorant locals. That purpose seems to have been an unobstructed view of the sky. It was the world’s first observatory.
  2. The site was probably engineered and supervised by the Swiderians, who seemed to have the habit of absorbing knowledge of various groups they encountered in their travels, synthesizing that knowledge, and using it to control the local population.
  3. The Swiderians had engineering knowledge we don’t have, at least regarding how to erect the structures with only tools of stone and wood. They probably had knowledge of sailing. What else did they know for which they left us no clues?
  4. The local population consisted of hunter-gatherers and, therefore, they moved from site to site. This disproves the theory that culture always arises from hunter-gatherers who subsequently adopted agriculture.
  5. Göbekli Tepe required a large work force, but no settlements have been found. Nor are there dwelling places within the site.
  6. With the observatory, and the catalog of animals carved into T pillars, it seems that Göbekli Tepe was the first university. People came to learn, then returned to their homelands.
  7. If you believe the Genesis account, learning would have been easy because everyone was already closely related by blood and spoke the same language.
  8. The Swiderian belief system was different from other cultures. Instead of man being an equal part of the world with animals, the enormous humanoid T Pillars that dwarf carvings of animals indicate that man was now considered of supreme importance.
  9. Ideograms were used. It also seems that at least some groups of carvings are positioned purposefully to give information.
  10. As tempting as it is to call this a temple, the logic seems to be very weak. One can’t say that later similar structures were temples and therefore this one is, because this site is the first and later structures could be corruptions…as we see within Göbekli Tepe itself. There is no altar. Feasts can be held without religion. There are no burials, as are often seen with later religious sites. We don’t know what the ideograms and carved groups mean.

     Let’s look at the vulture with the circle on its wing. It doesn’t have to be a vulture cult. First, the carved vultures are far from being large enough to be the religious center. If the circle does represent a human soul, the carving does not have to mean that the vulture, the bird of death, is responsible for transporting the soul to its final destination. It could be simply a statement of belief that after death the person lives on.

  1. If there is religion at the site, it would probably be centered on the most impressive structures: the seeing stone and the humanoid T pillars. If the pillars represent gods, that would indicate religion, but they could just as easily represent heroes or ancestors.
  2. The navigation they learned from Western Europe and the massive architectural structure imply an extensive use of mathematics. In navigation, the captain has to know how to plot his position and how to navigate to his destination.

In architecture, the Swiderians didn’t choose the circle, a shape easily made with a stake and a string. Instead, they preferred an oval.

Maybe they had someone who could freehand an oval the size of a structure, but that would be washed out by the next rain. Perhaps they knew advanced geometry using stakes, lines, and arcs to construct one. Or they knew the algebraic formula for the perimeter of an oval: π × (a + b) [1 + (3 × h/ (10 + √ (4 – 3h)))].

  1. The final mystery: why were the various structures filled in? The ones most carefully packed with skulls and tools and construction rubbish and dirt would have been constructed under Swiderians. The best guess is that they were already constructing the next enclosure because of a shift in the constellations they chose to observe. The first enclosure was packed carefully, almost reverently, as no longer useful.

     The second one was packed almost as carefully, but damage was done or it was completely emptied before being backfilled.

The Swiderians seem to have left during the construction of the third enclosure, leaving ignorant workers whose construction and later backfilling was sloppy.

Göbekli Tepe and the advances in knowledge that it represents are truly mysterious and awe inspiring!

Photo credit: Valiant Made on Unsplash

World History

Night Falls on Göbekli Tepe

Night Falls on Göbekli Tepe

Where Did the Swiderians Go?

Enclosure B

Enclosure A

Enclosures F-T

Night Falls

Night Falls on Göbekli Tepe

Where Did the Swiderians Go?

It is unlikely that the Swiderians stayed around after losing control. We know Swiderian culture continued for a while in Poland and western Russia so perhaps at least some Swiderians returned there. But there is another possibility.

Pillar 28 of Enclosure C has three ideograms on the edge facing (or supposed to face) the central pillars. The top figure is a C tipped over on its points. Below that is a horizontal hot dog. At the bottom is a C turned on its curve like a cup.

In the book Göbkli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, there is a photograph of this set of ideograms on page 54. What gives me chills is the photograph beside it. A Central Australian aboriginal medicine man named Worgaia has the same group of symbols on his body from just above the nipple line to his belly button!

Deep breath. That is shocking enough to knock one right between the eyes! But now, we must think. How could this happen? There are four possibilities.

  1. The identical group of ideograms were developed independently by a survival culture in Australia and the highest culture of the time: the Swiderians.
  2. The Australians traveled to Göbekli Tepe.
  3. The Swiderians traveled to Australia.
  4. Extraterrestrials taught both cultures the ideograms.

Recalling the rule that the simplest answer is usually the correct one, I choose the travelling Swiderians.

They came from Western Europe where we have already learned that an earlier culture may have sailed to North America.

We can surmise that while making great strides in architecture, the Swiderians were advancing in other fields of knowledge as well. We just don’t have any records of it.

Do you remember that when we covered ancient Australian art carvings that the ones who made them told the original Australians about the Ancestors and related ceremonies? Do you remember that the Australians were told that they were responsible for the welfare of the earth, and that is why the ceremonies had to be done precisely? ( September 12, 2022)

That sounds just like the Swiderians.

If the Swiderians traveled to Australia, where else might they have gone? And if they went multiple places, might they have survived and been responsible for further development of mammoth architecture?

I’m sorry to switch gears, but do you know what really irritates me about the photograph of the Australian shaman? There is no note that the photographer asked what the ideogram meant!

The medicine man may have been the human Rosetta Stone of Swiderian ideograms!

And the photographer didn’t even ask him.

Enclosure B

Enclosure B’s outer wall is a wobbly egg shape rather than oval. One end comes to a point. All pillars are erected in the inner ring, which is circular, and the workmanship is sloppy. Pillar 6 shows reliefs of a reptile and a snake.

The central pillars show leaping foxes. Had the fox/wolf cult gained dominance?

But there is one new component: the floor is terrazzo! Wow! Either this is the one flash of genius created by those now building Göbekli Tepe, or it is a parting gift from the Swiderians.

Perhaps the Swiderians were experimenting with terrazzo just before they left and this floor was their first successful project. Later, the enclosure might have been built around it.

Terrazzo, as used in archeology, was constructed from burnt lime and clay, colored with red ochre, and polished. Embedded limestone chips gave the floor a mottled appearance. The result was a floor that was durable and almost impenetrable to moisture.

The photograph at the beginning of this post shows an ancient terrazzo floor. It dates much more recently than Göbekli Tepe and contains not only limestone chips but also marble chips. However, it was made with the same process and shows the mottled appearance.

What a difference in style from smoothed bedrock!

But let’s not miss the real significance. To produce the lime needed, five times that much wood would be required to be burned. 

That’s a massive undertaking.

And it would require the ability to make, maintain, and safely manage fire.

This is the earliest proof of the ability to use fire!

Enclosure A

This enclosure was only partially explored as of the latest data that I can find. It is more rectangular. The pillars that have been explored show mostly snakes.

Enclosures F-T

F and G are like A except they are much smaller. Enclosure Hhas five pillars in its ring. The one remaining central pillar shows a large jumping feline. Enclosure I is still being excavated. It is circular. Enclosures J-T have not been excavated at all. They become rectangular.

Night Falls

And thus, the great Göbekli Tepe subsides into history with a whimper.

Suggested Reading:

Andrew Collins. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2014.

Photo credit: bin kontan @

World History

Göbekli Tepe Enclosure C: Pinnacle of Swiderian Design

Göbekli Tepe Enclosure C: Pinnacle of Swiderian Design

Enclosure C: Pinnacle of Swiderian Design

Swiderians Disappear From Turkey!

Göbekli Tepe Without Swiderians

Göbekli Tepe Enclosure C: Pinnacle of Swiderian Design

We don’t know the order of all of the enclosures. This is, in part, because only ten per cent of the site has been excavated thus far. I could find specific dates for only four enclosures. We will look at them in order, then at the others.

Following Enclosure D, which we have already explored, is Enclosure E. Only the smooth bedrock floor and two pedestals remain. Were the enclosure and its contents removed before being filled in? Why? There are no answers here.

Enclosure C: Pinnacle of Swiderian Design

The next oldest is Enclosure C. This is the most complex structure, although it is not intact as was Enclosure D.

Enclosure C is more magnificent in that it has an approach to be walked before entering the main structure.

First, one must mount an eight step staircase: the oldest staircase in the world! More innovative engineering.

Second, one must enter the structure through the Lion’s Gate: a U shaped stone entrance. Atop each upright is a fierce quadruped, possibly a lion. They face away from each other. Once through the Lion’s Gate, one walks down a stone-enclosed path to the main structure.

Swiderians Disappear From Turkey!

With Swiderian efficiency and precision, the stairway, Lion’s Gate, walkway, and smooth bedrock floor could all have been constructed concurrently.

Then the prepared central pillars, one of which has a leaping fox on an inner side facing the participant, are erected onto the floor. It was necessary for this to happen before the walls were built because the pillars would not have had enough room to enter and maneuver afterward.

And then something momentous happened resulting in the departure of the Swiderians. Although their influence is seen a while longer, there is no evidence of their precision engineering.

What happened that caused the Swiderians to leave an enclosure unfinished? How odd!

I can think of only one explanation. If the Swiderians did, indeed, dominate others by using a “protection racket,” the worst thing that could happen would be for a meteorite to crash near Göbekli Tepe, proving the Swiderian claims to be fraudulent.

Göbekli Tepe Without Swiderians

Construction of Enclosure C continued without the Swiderians, but precision and innovative engineering have disappeared.

The outer wall was the older of the two. Only eight of its T pillars remain. It is not known how many originally existed. One interesting finding is Pillar 12, which has a bear carved on its “head.” Nothing like this has been seen before.

The pillar shows five birds with a backdrop of V shaped lines that could represent water ripples. On the shaft is a threatening boar above a leaping fox. No vultures in sight.

Pillar 59 is a Sighting Stone, although only the lower half survives. Was that from vandalism? Anyway, the Sighting Stone is not aligned with the central pillars! An intelligent person would begin the enclosure by setting the Seeing Stone and building from there.

The wall as a whole “wobbles” its way around the oval shape. The T pillars do not face the center of the enclosure, but are off to the right or left by different degrees each time.

Do you see why I think the Swiderians were no longer in control of construction? They would never have been so sloppy!

The walkway, as it is called, between the walls is mysterious in that there is no obvious way to enter it. Either the access point has not been recognized or the person had to scale the inner wall. Most likely, the space was not meant to be walked at all. The inner wall was meant to block off the Sighting Stone that failed them. There will be no more such stones.

The inner wall shows the same lack of skill as the outer wall, becoming more like a circle, which is easier to construct than an oval. Again, the T pillars are inconsistently set.

It’s clear that the people finishing Enclosure C have limited skills. They had been told even where to place the stones for the walls. Now, they are on their own.

Suggested Reading:

Andrew Collins. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Company, Rochester, Vermont, 2014.

Photo Credit: Frank Samol on

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