Modified Human Skulls Found In Turkey's Göbekli Tepe Reveal Mysterious Neolithic Skull Cult

June 30, 2017

Modified Human Skulls Found In Turkey's Göbekli Tepe Reveal Mysterious Neolithic Skull Cult

Archaeologists have discovered fragments of different carved skulls in Turkey’s one of the most important Neolithic sites. These decorated deeply chiseled human craniums are first of their kinds in the world.

Researchers are of the opinion that the statues and carvings with people without heads carrying the skulls signify the practice of skull cult by the ancient people of Göbekli Tepe.

The archaeological site of the Gobekli Tepe is on an artificial hill in southeastern Turkey. The site consists of multiple monumental buildings with massive pillars adorning carvings of animals and symbolic art.

Decorated Skulls Found

When the research began at the 12,000-year-old temple, researchers expected to find human burials. Instead, they found thousands of animal bones and almost 700 fragments of human bones, most of them being human skulls.

The most bizarre part of this excavation was the decoration of the skulls with plaster. Bodies holding the ornamental heads were unearthed from homes in Catalhoyuk, a Neolithic city in southern Turkey. However, finding no human burials at the Gobekli Tepe raises the question about the rituals for the dead in the early Neolithic culture.

gobekli tepe

The researchers added that they found seven skull fragments of three different people from various locations around the site. According to the study of these skull fragments, the intentional carvings on these heads with stone tools to create grooves using a drill from the primitive ages.

Mystery of the Carved Grooves

The researchers studied the cut grooves carefully and found that repeated sawing was made on them using stone tools. The slots were made intentionally by other humans. The indentations were not because of defleshing or scalping. However, there were other marks on the skull fragments that indicated removal of flesh.

gobekli tepe

Also, the indentations indicated that there were no signs of healing and the tools left sharp edges that signify the elasticity in the bone. There were clues that the person’s skull was modified immediately after his/her death. Based on the location of the grooves and drill marks, researchers are of the opinion that after preparation, the skulls were hung with the grooves acting as anchor cords to prevent them from slipping.

 

Age of the Skulls

Researchers reveal that the exact date for the carved heads from the Gobekli Tepe cannot be known. It can approximately retake us to what is called the Pre-pottery Neolithic A and Early/Middle Pre-pottery Neolithic B which is around 10,000 to 11,600 years ago. The site is a pile of layers of buildings that were buried and rebuilt with old material including bones and artifacts.

While the superficial marks and ochre indicate defleshing, the grooves are unique and signify an apparent skull cult at the site which is exclusive to the entire world and the archaeological records.

Images©Julia Gresky, Juliane Haelm, DAI via discoverymagazine




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