Map of Turkey, showing Gobëkli Tepe ^. (Çatal Höyük is far to the west, due north of Cyprus)
View of Pot Belly Hill ^
Gobëkli Tepe Excavations at Pot Belly Hill ^
As soon as I saw this thing ... I thought it looks like a fake. Note the location, on the border of Turkey with Syria; and the high elevation of the land; and the confusion in the site of round areas and rectangular areas. I'd suggest this may have been built as a foundation for a mosque, on commanding high ground, perhaps as a threatening anti-Christian monument. Conceivably it might have been intended as a mass grave. Maybe it was built under the pretence of being a film set; perhaps it was—maybe a 1960s film includes it. The T-shaped stones suggest deliberate fakery to me; the iconography is confused and I'd suggest possibly the skills of forgers were used—since the rediscovery of the past, fakes have been manufactured, sometimes in large numbers. The stones—assuming they are stone, and not some sort of modern composite—may have been placed into foundations of a badly-planned mosque; perhaps some far-sighted local European-educated Turk, impressed by the attention given to Tutankhamun and other excavational successes, tried his hand at architecture, but gave up and positioned these things, then covered them up. There are photo(s) of a bemused elderly local in his red headgear (sometimes compared to a tea towel...) with the claim he'd farmed the site, translated as 'Pot Belly Hill', all his life. Maybe. I'd date this site about 1920, personally. But I could be wrong.
Another possibility: Çatal Höyük (an archaeological site, not a person—Googling catal huyuk will find it) became famous world-wide from about 1960 and may have suggested—particularly to an envious, cunning mind—or perhaps a shrewd mind, one that noticed the gullibilities and animosities between official experts and hangers-on—that another site could be conjured up. If so, a cover story may have been needed: perhaps a Hollywood set? All that would be needed would be a year or so to cut the stones, decorate them, and instal them by crane, then fill in with rubble to crudely suggest seating etc. Finally, the Hollywood film could be said to have been cancelled, and the whole thing covered, with some thought to making it seem old, but not too hard to rediscover. Evidence in the quarry would need to be removed—paper scribbles giving the rough heights and dimensions could not be left lying around.
If I'm right, I'd guess this is the first large-scale archaeological fake.
People new to the subject of fakes (especially where there's a huge financial incentive, as with e.g. Greece and Italy in the 'grand tour' era, and modern Chinese faked fossils) might like my review of Mark Jones: Fake? Art of Deception published by the British Museum Press.
Wikipedia is of course a notorious source of bullshit. Here's what they claim for the Gobekli Tepe site. Note that the site is nine miles (not a huge distance) from a long-established significant town close enough for truckloads of building material.
National Geographic is a rather longer-established source of bullshit. Here's what they claim. Remember the National Geographic went along with the NASA moon landing fraud (see 1969 issues, and a few later years) and other frauds, e.g. a supposedly newly-discovered tribe. Quite apart from pseudoscientific articles for example on biology. And numerous political scams.
Note the highly unconvincing aspects of these photos.
• The stone uprights are T-shaped, suggesting they were designed for placement by cranes or at least ropes.
• The uprights are narrow, suggesting mass produced cutting with modern equipment.
• There's an absurd contrast between the finish of the stones and the surrounding area, both floors and walls being non-existent or badly-finished.
• Note the variety of iconography, some worn, suggesting amateur attempts to simulate ancient artefacts, some well-finished, some with modern motifs such as the straining arms and hands.
• The irregularity and poor arrangement of the uprights
• The avoidance of information: where would the stone have been quarried? Geological identification of stone is excellent. How can they be sure of the date, since there are no strata even remotely able to be dated?
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HTML Rae West - First upload 7th Feb 2013 (GMT)