Göbekli Tepe: Temples From 10,000 B.C.

Mighty_Emperor

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#1
Gobekli Tepe undermines the notion that the building of large stone temples requires agriculture as part of the infrastructure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe

It is featured in the current FT.

Since 1994, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt has overseen an astonishing archaeological dig called Gobekli Tepe. Located in southern Turkey, South African palaeolithic art expert David Lewis has called Gobekli Tepe "the most important archaeological dig anywhere in the world." Why? Schmidt explains, "Gobekli Tepe is staggeringly old. It dates from 10,000 BC, before pottery and the wheel. By comparison, Stonehenge dates from 2,000 BC. Our excavations also show it is not a domestic site, it is religious - the world's oldest temple. This site proves that hunter-gatherers were capable of complex art and organised religion, something no-one imagined before."
More:
www.dailygrail.com/node/4051
 

Hanslune

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#2
One note

Earlier than pottery in the Middle East not the rest of world. Jomon pottery has been dated back as far as 12000 BC.

The site is very interesting and further finds in the area should be enlightening.
 

James_H

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#6
Truly unbelievable - and quite hard to believe at that. Could shift a few paradigms.
 
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#7
H_James said:
Truly unbelievable - and quite hard to believe at that. Could shift a few paradigms.
I have to agree, especially about the "quite hard to believe" bit. Those carvings, alone, seem to have more than a touch of the Glozel about them, for some reason. You know, strangely anachronistic and not quite fitting.

I'd love for it all to be true, though! :)
 

Elidorius

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#8
Gobekli Tepe Location

Another thread discusses the location of Gobekli Tepe. This is part of what I posted there. Thought you might find it useful.

The map on page 46 of FT 220 shows the site as being south-east of Urfa.

But according to Wikipedia, it's located 15KM north-east of Urfa.

I wondered which was right, so I went to the German Archaeological Institute's web sitehttp://www.dainst.org/index_642_de.html to see what they had to say. It's in German of course. So I enlisted the help of Babelfish which translated the opening paragraph thus:

"The 15m powerful and for instance 300m in the diameter measuring fruehneolithische Goebekli Tepe is for instance to 15km northeast the city?anl?urfa on the highest point of an elongated mountain course. He is to be noticed from from far away as dominating landmark. From here the view in the north and the east is enough up to the Taurusgebirge and to the Karaca there?, in the south the Harranebene opens until Syria. However in the west the horizon is limited already soon by close hoehenzuege, which push themselves between?anl?urfa and that far valley of the Euphrates lain in the west."

Well, if they say north-east ... and the general location is further affirmed by the Google Earth member zenekites, who's helpfully posted a Google Earth location marker on the Google Earth Community web site. If you've got Google Earth, you can just click it and it'll open GE and take you to it. I don't know where he (or she) got it from, but they're described as "archaeologist" in their GE Profile, for what it's worth - still, if that's the case, they're probably close, if not right on the button.

The FT's map location south-east of Urfa would place it in a green, fertile valley, whereas the north-east region is barren and mountainous.

If you prefer entering your own coordinates, try these:

Lat 37°13'12.00"N

Long 38°55'12.00"E

;)
 

rynner2

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#9
Gobekli Tepe - the oldest megaliths?

7,000 years older than Stonehenge: the site that stunned archaeologists
Circles of elaborately carved stones from about 9,500BC predate even agriculture
Nicholas Birch in Istanbul The Guardian, Wednesday April 23 2008

As a child, Klaus Schmidt used to grub around in caves in his native Germany in the hope of finding prehistoric paintings. Thirty years later, a member of the German Archaeological Institute, he found something infinitely more important: a temple complex almost twice as old as anything comparable on the planet.

"This place is a supernova," said Schmidt, standing under a lone tree on a windswept hilltop 35 miles north of Turkey's border with Syria. "Within a minute of first seeing it I knew I had two choices: go away and tell nobody, or spend the rest of my life working here."

Behind him are the first folds of the Anatolian plateau. Ahead, the Mesopotamian plain, like a dust-coloured sea, stretches south hundreds of miles. The stone circles of Gobekli Tepe are just in front, hidden under the brow of the hill.

Compared with Stonehenge, they are humble affairs. None of the circles excavated (four out of an estimated 20) are more than 30 metres across. T-shaped pillars like the rest, two five-metre stones tower at least a metre above their peers. What makes them remarkable are their carved reliefs of boars, foxes, lions, birds, snakes and scorpions, and their age. Dated at around 9,500BC, these stones are 5,500 years older than the first cities of Mesopotamia, and 7,000 years older than Stonehenge.

Never mind wheels or writing, the people who erected them did not even have pottery or domesticated wheat. They lived in villages. But they were hunters, not farmers.

"Everybody used to think only complex, hierarchical civilisations could build such monumental sites, and that they only came about with the invention of agriculture", said Ian Hodder, a Stanford University professor of anthropology who has directed digs at Catalhoyuk, Turkey's best known neolithic site, since 1993. "Gobekli changes everything. It's elaborate, it's complex and it is pre-agricultural. That alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time."


With only a fraction of the site opened up after a decade of excavation, Gobekli Tepe's significance to the people who built it remains unclear. Some think it was the centre of a fertility rite, with the two tall stones at the centre of each circle representing a man and woman. It is a theory the tourist board in nearby Urfa has taken up with alacrity. Visit the Garden of Eden, its brochures trumpet; see Adam and Eve.

Schmidt is sceptical. He agrees Gobekli Tepe may well be "the last flowering of a semi-nomadic world that farming was just about to destroy", and points out that if it is in near perfect condition today, it is because those who built it buried it soon after under tons of soil, as though its wild animal-rich world had lost all meaning.

But the site is devoid of the fertility symbols found at other neolithic sites, and the T-shaped columns, while clearly semi-human, are sexless.

Gods

"I think here we are face to face with the earliest representation of gods," said Schmidt, patting one of the biggest stones. "They have no eyes, no mouths, no faces. But they have arms and they have hands. They are makers.

"In my opinion, the people who carved them were asking themselves the biggest questions of all. What is this universe? Why are we here?"

With no evidence of houses or graves near the stones, Schmidt believes the hilltop was a site of pilgrimage for communities within a radius of roughly a hundred miles. The tallest stones all face south-east, as if scanning plains that are scattered with contemporary sites in many ways no less remarkable than Gobekli Tepe.

Last year, for instance, French archaeologists working at Djade al-Mughara in northern Syria uncovered the oldest mural ever found. "Two square metres of geometric shapes, in red, black and white - like a Paul Klee painting", said Eric Coqueugniot, of the University of Lyon, who is leading the excavation.

Coqueugniot describes Schmidt's hypothesis that Gobekli Tepe was a meeting point for rituals as "tempting", given its spectacular position. But surveys of the region were still in their infancy. "Tomorrow, somebody might find somewhere even more dramatic."

Vecihi Ozkaya, the director of a dig at Kortiktepe, 120 miles east of Urfa, doubts the thousands of stone pots he has found since 2001 in hundreds of 11,500-year-old graves quite qualify as that. But his excitement fills his austere office at Dicle University in Diyarbakir.

"Look at this", he said, pointing at a photo of an exquisitely carved sculpture showing an animal, half-human, half-lion. "It's a sphinx, thousands of years before Egypt. South-eastern Turkey, northern Syria - this region saw the wedding night of our civilisation."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/ ... ogy.turkey
 

OldTimeRadio

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#10
Re: Gobekli Tepe - the oldest megaliths?

Compared with Stonehenge, they are humble affairs.
I'm sorry, but why are stone walls humbler than columns in a circle? Especially when the former are seven thousand years older than the latter?
 

many_angled_one

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#11
Re: Gobekli Tepe - the oldest megaliths?

OldTimeRadio said:
Compared with Stonehenge, they are humble affairs.
I'm sorry, but why are stone walls humbler than columns in a circle? Especially when the former are seven thousand years older than the latter?
I am guessing that he means humble in size compared to the massive stone blocks of stone henge.

What a fascinating find! The boundaries of proper human civilisation just keep getting pushed back further it seems.
 

PeniG

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#14
I can resign myself to Atlantean elements, watching it as a fantasy; but saber-toothed cats in the old world are a pretty big hurdle for me to get over.

Yeah, I'm like that...

Since it's all anatomically modern humans at this point, a wall isn't that shocking. I've got a stone floor older than that a two-hour drive away. The interesting thing is, what did they need a stone wall for.
 

rynner2

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#17
This is new to me:

Do these mysterious stones mark the site of the Garden of Eden?
By Tom Cox
Last updated at 1:26 AM on 28th February 2009

For the old Kurdish shepherd, it was just another burning hot day in the rolling plains of eastern Turkey. Following his flock over the arid hillsides, he passed the single mulberry tree, which the locals regarded as 'sacred'. The bells on his sheep tinkled in the stillness. Then he spotted something. Crouching down, he brushed away the dust, and exposed a strange, large, oblong stone.
The man looked left and right: there were similar stone rectangles, peeping from the sands. Calling his dog to heel, the shepherd resolved to inform someone of his finds when he got back to the village. Maybe the stones were important.

They certainly were important. The solitary Kurdish man, on that summer's day in 1994, had made the greatest archaeological discovery in 50 years. Others would say he'd made the greatest archaeological discovery ever: a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion - and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden.

A few weeks after his discovery, news of the shepherd's find reached museum curators in the ancient city of Sanliurfa, ten miles south-west of the stones.
They got in touch with the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul. And so, in late 1994, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt came to the site of Gobekli Tepe (pronounced Go-beckly Tepp-ay) to begin his excavations.
As he puts it: 'As soon as I got there and saw the stones, I knew that if I didn't walk away immediately I would be here for the rest of my life.'

Schmidt stayed. And what he has uncovered is astonishing. Archaeologists worldwide are in rare agreement on the site's importance. 'Gobekli Tepe changes everything,' says Ian Hodder, at Stanford University.
David Lewis-Williams, professor of archaeology at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, says: 'Gobekli Tepe is the most important archaeological site in the world.'

Some go even further and say the site and its implications are incredible. As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: 'Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.'
So what is it that has energised and astounded the sober world of academia?

The site of Gobekli Tepe is simple enough to describe. The oblong stones, unearthed by the shepherd, turned out to be the flat tops of awesome, T-shaped megaliths. Imagine carved and slender versions of the stones of Avebury or Stonehenge.
Most of these standing stones are inscribed with bizarre and delicate images - mainly of boars and ducks, of hunting and game. Sinuous serpents are another common motif. Some of the megaliths show crayfish or lions.

The stones seem to represent human forms - some have stylised 'arms', which angle down the sides. Functionally, the site appears to be a temple, or ritual site, like the stone circles of Western Europe.
To date, 45 of these stones have been dug out - they are arranged in circles from five to ten yards across - but there are indications that much more is to come. Geomagnetic surveys imply that there are hundreds more standing stones, just waiting to be excavated.

So far, so remarkable. If Gobekli Tepe was simply this, it would already be a dazzling site - a Turkish Stonehenge. But several unique factors lift Gobekli Tepe into the archaeological stratosphere - and the realms of the fantastical.

The first is its staggering age. Carbon-dating shows that the complex is at least 12,000 years old, maybe even 13,000 years old.
That means it was built around 10,000BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built in 3,000 BC and the pyramids of Giza in 2,500 BC.
Gobekli is thus the oldest such site in the world, by a mind-numbing margin. It is so old that it predates settled human life. It is pre-pottery, pre-writing, pre-everything. Gobekli hails from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, right back in our hunter-gatherer past.

How did cavemen build something so ambitious? Schmidt speculates that bands of hunters would have gathered sporadically at the site, through the decades of construction, living in animal-skin tents, slaughtering local game for food.
The many flint arrowheads found around Gobekli support this thesis; they also support the dating of the site.
This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something like Gobekli, is worldchanging, for it shows that the old hunter-gatherer life, in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived - almost unbelievably sophisticated.

It's as if the gods came down from heaven and built Gobekli for themselves.
This is where we come to the biblical connection, and my own involvement in the Gobekli Tepe story.

About three years ago, intrigued by the first scant details of the site, I flew out to Gobekli. It was a long, wearying journey, but more than worth it, not least as it would later provide the backdrop for a new novel I have written.
Back then, on the day I arrived at the dig, the archaeologists were unearthing mind-blowing artworks. As these sculptures were revealed, I realised that I was among the first people to see them since the end of the Ice Age.

And that's when a tantalising possibility arose. Over glasses of black tea, served in tents right next to the megaliths, Klaus Schmidt told me that, in his opinion, this very spot was once the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. More specifically, as he put it: 'Gobekli Tepe is a temple in Eden.'
To understand how a respected academic like Schmidt can make such a dizzying claim, you need to know that many scholars view the Eden story as folk-memory, or allegory.

Seen in this way, the Eden story, in Genesis, tells us of humanity's innocent and leisured hunter-gatherer past, when we could pluck fruit from the trees, scoop fish from the rivers and spend the rest of our days in pleasure.
But then we 'fell' into the harsher life of farming, with its ceaseless toil and daily grind. And we know primitive farming was harsh, compared to the relative indolence of hunting, because of the archaeological evidence.

When people make the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture, their skeletons change - they temporarily grow smaller and less healthy as the human body adapts to a diet poorer in protein and a more wearisome lifestyle. Likewise, newly domesticated animals get scrawnier.
This begs the question, why adopt farming at all? Many theories have been suggested - from tribal competition, to population pressures, to the extinction of wild animal species. But Schmidt believes that the temple of Gobekli reveals another possible cause.

'To build such a place as this, the hunters must have joined together in numbers. After they finished building, they probably congregated for worship. But then they found that they couldn't feed so many people with regular hunting and gathering.
'So I think they began cultivating the wild grasses on the hills. Religion motivated people to take up farming.'

The reason such theories have special weight is that the move to farming first happened in this same region. These rolling Anatolian plains were the cradle of agriculture.
The world's first farmyard pigs were domesticated at Cayonu, just 60 miles away. Sheep, cattle and goats were also first domesticated in eastern Turkey. Worldwide wheat species descend from einkorn wheat - first cultivated on the hills near Gobekli. Other domestic cereals - such as rye and oats - also started here.

But there was a problem for these early farmers, and it wasn't just that they had adopted a tougher, if ultimately more productive, lifestyle. They also experienced an ecological crisis. These days the landscape surrounding the eerie stones of Gobekli is arid and barren, but it was not always thus. As the carvings on the stones show - and as archaeological remains reveal - this was once a richly pastoral region.

There were herds of game, rivers of fish, and flocks of wildfowl; lush green meadows were ringed by woods and wild orchards. About 10,000 years ago, the Kurdish desert was a 'paradisiacal place', as Schmidt puts it. So what destroyed the environment? The answer is Man.

As we began farming, we changed the landscape and the climate. When the trees were chopped down, the soil leached away; all that ploughing and reaping left the land eroded and bare. What was once an agreeable oasis became a land of stress, toil and diminishing returns.

And so, paradise was lost. Adam the hunter was forced out of his glorious Eden, 'to till the earth from whence he was taken' - as the Bible puts it.
Of course, these theories might be dismissed as speculations. Yet there is plenty of historical evidence to show that the writers of the Bible, when talking of Eden, were, indeed, describing this corner of Kurdish Turkey.

In the Book of Genesis, it is indicated that Eden is west of Assyria. Sure enough, this is where Gobekli is sited.
Likewise, biblical Eden is by four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates. And Gobekli lies between both of these.
In ancient Assyrian texts, there is mention of a 'Beth Eden' - a house of Eden. This minor kingdom was 50 miles from Gobekli Tepe.
Another book in the Old Testament talks of 'the children of Eden which were in Thelasar', a town in northern Syria, near Gobekli.
The very word 'Eden' comes from the Sumerian for 'plain'; Gobekli lies on the plains of Harran.
Thus, when you put it all together, the evidence is persuasive. Gobekli Tepe is, indeed, a 'temple in Eden', built by our leisured and fortunate ancestors - people who had time to cultivate art, architecture and complex ritual, before the traumas of agriculture ruined their lifestyle, and devastated their paradise.

It's a stunning and seductive idea. Yet it has a sinister epilogue. Because the loss of paradise seems to have had a strange and darkening effect on the human mind.

A few years ago, archaeologists at nearby Cayonu unearthed a hoard of human skulls. They were found under an altar-like slab, stained with human blood.
No one is sure, but this may be the earliest evidence for human sacrifice: one of the most inexplicable of human behaviours and one that could have evolved only in the face of terrible societal stress.

Experts may argue over the evidence at Cayonu. But what no one denies is that human sacrifice took place in this region, spreading to Palestine, Canaan and Israel.
Archaeological evidence suggests that victims were killed in huge death pits, children were buried alive in jars, others roasted in vast bronze bowls.
These are almost incomprehensible acts, unless you understand that the people had learned to fear their gods, having been cast out of paradise. So they sought to propitiate the angry heavens.

This savagery may, indeed, hold the key to one final, bewildering mystery. The astonishing stones and friezes of Gobekli Tepe are preserved intact for a bizarre reason.
Long ago, the site was deliberately and systematically buried in a feat of labour every bit as remarkable as the stone carvings.

Around 8,000 BC, the creators of Gobekli turned on their achievement and entombed their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating the artificial hills on which that Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994.
No one knows why Gobekli was buried. Maybe it was interred as a kind of penance: a sacrifice to the angry gods, who had cast the hunters out of paradise. Perhaps it was for shame at the violence and bloodshed that the stone-worship had helped provoke.

Whatever the answer, the parallels with our own era are stark. As we contemplate a new age of ecological turbulence, maybe the silent, sombre, 12,000-year-old stones of Gobekli Tepe are trying to speak to us, to warn us, as they stare across the first Eden we destroyed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -Eden.html
 

Twin_Star

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#19
I thought we had a thread on this amazing place already, but it may have been on the Cabinet of Wonders instead. Anyway, here's another article, that covers some slightly different ground:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-a ... c=y&page=1

Interesting to note that it seems 60% of the bone fragments classified so far are animal, so although there was undoubted human sacrifice, and let's not forget that every primitive culture seemed to be fond of ritual human sacrifice, up to much more recent times (Greeks until about 1000-500BCE, Romans until about 100BCE to name but a couple), so the usual Daily Mail attempt to spin societal "shame" as a reason for abandoning the site is IMO only, total bollocks. More likely the flood of Deucalion had something to do with it...
 

EnolaGaia

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#20
According to this Web summary about Cayonu:

http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/turkeycayonu.htm

... the blood residues on the allegedly sacrificial slab at Cayonu date back circa 9000 years (per a 1989 publication) - i.e., to circa 7000 BC.

This is approximately 1000 years *after* the estimated time (circa 8000 BC) when Gobekli Tepe was 'buried'.

... So it's a bit difficult to understand why Gobekli Tepe would be buried as a result of shame over sacrifices that would not occur for another millennium.

Side Note: I suggest someone reinstitute the 'slab sacrifice' for journalists who can't make a coherent narrative out of clearly-documented data.
 

rynner2

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#21
_TMS_ said:
....so the usual Daily Mail attempt to spin societal "shame" as a reason for abandoning the site is IMO only, total bollocks.
Strange comment! Especially as Tom Cox is a freelance journalist
Tom Cox has written articles published in The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times and Financial Times.

http://www.journalisted.com/tom-cox
He has also writen several books.

And EnolaGaia says
... So it's a bit difficult to understand why Gobekli Tepe would be buried as a result of shame over sacrifices that would not occur for another millennium.

Side Note: I suggest someone reinstitute the 'slab sacrifice' for journalists who can't make a coherent narrative out of clearly-documented data.
The word 'shame' came in this paragraph:
No one knows why Gobekli was buried. Maybe it was interred as a kind of penance: a sacrifice to the angry gods, who had cast the hunters out of paradise. Perhaps it was for shame at the violence and bloodshed that the stone-worship had helped provoke.
But note the 'perhaps'.

Please, please, people, let's keep 21st century opinionising out of this
- I'm more interested in what we actually know about what went on all those millenia ago.
 

Twin_Star

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#22
No, sorry ryn i didnt mean to appear to dismiss the entirety of the article with my last rather throwaway comments. It was well written enough but his Eden motifs irked me slightly. There was a much more, i felt, evocative article which talked about the particularly stylised statues as "maker gods" i will look harder for it.

EDIT: it's this Garudian piece from April 08: EDIT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/ ... ogy.turkey

Nevertheless it remains arguably the most important archaeological site in the world and demands wider exposure. with all that in mind the mythical flood which seems common across many cultures, and the proof of very early, if not earliest, evidence of planned agriculture and animal husbandry at the site ties it in to all sorts of scientific / quasi scientific and downright oddball theories. Hope thats cleared things up slightly :?
 

rynner2

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#26
...and I uncover a little mystery!

The photo of the discoverer-shepherd in the Mail is very similar (but not identical) to the one that the FT article claims to be of Sean Thomas' taxi driver! :shock: Clearly, the pictures were taken on the same occassion.

They can't both be right, surely? ;)
 

AMPHIARAUS

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#27
ProfessorF said:
Actually, wasn't this covered in an edition of FT last year or the year before? :?
Yep, beaten to it. It was an interesting piece and IF the age of the stone carving was correct WOW!!!!
 

James_H

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#28
Maybe they're friends, and they went on a trip together. Or maybe there are organised group trips. Or a little 'creative journalism' is going on.
 

rynner2

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#29
I've just discovered a work of fiction based on the Gobekli Tepe excavation. My library has classified it as Sci-Fi/Fantasy. It's The Genesis Secret, by Tom Knox, published in paperback by Harper, 2009.
Tom Knox is the pseudonym of British author Sean Thomas. Originally a journalist, his first book The Genesis Secret was published in 2008 after being advised to do so when he was writing an article on a focal point of what would become the plot - Gobekli Tepe.

His second book The Marks of Cain was released in 2010 and was an immediate hit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Knox_(Author)
According to the notes in the book, he has worked for several British publications, including the Daily Mail, whose article formed the start of this thread - that was written by Tom Cox! I'm sure that Knox is Cox (or vice-versa), ie, Sean Thomas, as the book's author has clearly visited the site in Turkey. So to sum up, Sean Thomas wrote the piece for Fortean Times, Tom Cox wrote the Mail article, and Tom Knox wrote the book! 8)

There is an earlier thread on G.T.
http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28978
Since there's no overlap of dates they could be merged.
 

rynner2

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#30
As I'm getting into the Genesis Mystery, I thought I'd re-read the G.T. threads here, including the original linked references.

I started this thread by saying "This is new to me.."
No it wasn't! I'd already posted something about it on the previous G.T. thread! Clearly, Alzheimers had already started to kick in... :(

And then there was my cut'n'paste job on the Mail article, written by Tom Cox (who I also referred to in a later post): but clicking the link now shows the writer to be Tom Knox, and the article is in fact a 'puff' for the Genesis Mystery that I 'discovered' today! Since there seems no reason why I (senile or not) should have edited Knox to Cox, it seems that the Mail must have revised its website. At least this confirms the Knox/Cox identity.

Anyhow, re-reading all this stuff clarifies my understanding of the site, especially as passages from the book are almost word for word the same as passages in the various articles (which is hardly surprising, as many of the links on here derive from the same source, namely Sean Thomas!)

But the book, being 'fiction' does have the freedom to explore other aspects of the excavation, especially the strained political situation in Anatolia between the Turks and the local Kurdish population, many of whom are labourers on the dig...

If the book turns up any more interesting insights, I'll post them here.
 
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