This drawing helps us picture the building of the site….. Perhaps the most remarkable find of recent vintage is the totem pole…… The totem clearly enough has a human figure at the bottom, appearing to be making some sort of clay vessel, then perhaps another human figure in the middle, but careful examination of the large figure whose head is at the top of the totem suggests an animal with eyes, nose and mouth wide open. This is clearly not a phallic symbol, but is it a symbol of the oneness of all life? Possibly. I am leery of connecting this totem to the human figure found in Urfa itself which you see described below…. The settlement in Urfa is a different type of site, and not probably from the same period as the columns at Gobecki Tepe more than eight miles away. Nevertheless, this figure seems to be wearing some sort of priestly attire.
What I had never seen before, because it wasn’t in the old small museum at Urfa were the small animal figures and other small items found at Gobeckli Tepe, and in some cases at the nearby site of Nevali Chori. The plaque below seems to be depicting either birth or intercourse, it’s not clear…..<a href="http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/files/2016/07/sanl25.jpg” rel=”attachment wp-att-16084″> And look at these miniature replicas of the standing stones at Gobeckli….. Here’s a small animal disc…. And the snake column…. This bowl, found nearby depicts humans dancing with turtles, among other things…. And spear points have been found aplenty at Gobeckli, indicating the presence of hunter-gatherers.
It is hard to know what to make of this bewildering array of material. So let’s return to one of the most important standing columns…. It seems clear, on close scrutiny that this column depicts someone, whether human or divine, in priestly attire. We have the cereminial loin cloth at the bottom with the hands, and the ceremonial necklace at the top. Notice the medallion as well that he wears. I think it is unavoidable that Gobeckli has to be seen as a high place, a religious high place, a place where priests do their work. Are the animals all part of a sacrificial schema? Perhaps not. Perhaps only some of them. Perhaps the rest are simply being offered up to the deities, as all life is offered back to its source. There may be evidence this was an excarnation site as well. What of the fact that the site suddenly stopped functioning, and what of the fact that a good deal of it was covered up. This suggests some kind of sudden catastrophe. After all it is right between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers. It could have succumbed to a large flood, or to an invading force. We may never know. What we do know is, that however animistic in character the earliest humans were religious to the core, as this is a religious specific site….