by Ashley Cowie
Close-up of the Göbekli Tepe site
in central Turkey.
Source: Brian Weed / Adobe stock
Does a "hidden-pattern" at
Göbekli Tepe in central Turkey suggest 12,000-year-old
hunter-gatherers knew rudimentary geometric principals, indicating a
more complex society than previously assumed by archaeologists, or
The first phase of construction at the famous Göbekli Tepe, or
"potbellied hill" in Turkish, has been dated to between 12,000
and 11,000 years ago, and this prehistoric stone circle,
located on a barren hilltop in southeastern Turkey, has challenged
archaeologists' ideas about prehistoric cultures since its discovery
in the 1990s.
archaeologists have been perplexed as to how the assumed to be
primitive hunter-gatherers could design and assemble such a
massive monumental stone structure before the emergence of the
social order that came with agriculture?
Now, Israeli archaeologists, Gil Haklay and his PhD advisor
Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University, have published a new
and Architectural Planning at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey) in
the Cambridge Archaeological Journal providing a set of
observations suggesting this prehistoric building project was,
"much more complex
than previously thought",
...and that it required
planning and resources to a degree thought of as being impossible
for those times.
Contemporaneous Stone Circles, Perhaps?
At this world-renowned archaeological site several concentric stone
circles feature massive T-shaped pillars that reach almost 6 meters
(20 ft) in height with animals and anthropological motifs carved in
But this new study
focuses on the arrangement and positioning of the three oldest
circular stone enclosures at Göbekli Tepe and the researchers claim
that underlying the entire architectural plan of these three
"a hidden geometric
pattern," which they describe as being "specifically an
Close-up of a stone pillar at Göbekli Tepe
intricate relief carving.
/ CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Until these new observations, most archaeologists had assumed that
the circles at Göbekli Tepe had been built gradually, over a long
time period, possibly by different cultural groups, and that older
circles were covered over with the new.
Never was it considered
that all three enclosures might have been constructed,
"as a single unit at
the same time," said the researchers.
Researcher Haklay told
Haaretz that while the initial discovery of the site was a big
surprise for the archaeological world, his new research confirms its
construction was even "more complex than we thought."
Project" Theory Challenges the Mainstream
The new study focuses on enclosures B, C, and D, which have been
dated to slightly older than enclosure A, and Haklay, who was
previously an architect, applied a method of interpretation known as
"architectural formal analysis" to retrace the ancient builders
planning principles and methodologies.
Using an algorithm, Haklay identified the center points of the three
irregular stone circles, which fell roughly mid-way between the pair
of central pillars in each enclosure.
The eureka moment came
when the three central points were found to form a nearly perfect
equilateral triangle, so accurate in measure, that the researchers
"vertices are about
25 centimeters (10 inches) away from forming a perfect triangle
with sides measuring 19.25 meters (63 ft) each".
The Göbekli Tepe site in central Turkey.
(Teomancimit / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
And for those readers thinking this occurrence might be a
coincidence, Haklay told reporters at Haaretz that the enclosures,
"all have different
sizes and shapes" and he says the odds that the three center
points would form an equilateral triangle by chance, "are very
This complex abstract
floor design underlying the arrangement of Göbekli Tepe, is
presented in the new paper as evidence of a "scaled floor plan,"
possibly achieved using reeds of equal length to create a
rudimentary blueprint on the ground, Haklay suggests.
The archaeologist also
thinks each enclosure subsequently went through a long construction
history with multiple modifications, but that in the initial
"they started as a
Does the New "All
Three At Once" Theory Challenge the Time Delayed Hypothesis'?
If the underlying geometric pattern is indeed evidence that the
three structures at Göbekli Tepe had been built in one ancient
engineering project, the feat was three times larger than previously
thought, requiring a similar multiplication of hunter-gatherer
builders, resources and effort.
Gopher suggests maybe,
"thousands of workers
...what he called the
birth of a more stratified society, with a level of
sophistication equitable with much later sedentary groups of
In conclusion, while the two researchers are convinced their
discovery proves the three stone circles had been built
contemporaneously, many readers will at this moment, like me, be
struggling with a contrasting proposition.
What if the earliest
builders erected a stand-alone circle then a later culture built
another one, randomly positioned, beside the first with no geometric
Then a third set of
builders, perhaps 2000 years later, decided to build their circle
equidistant from the previously unrelated first two circles,
resulting in an equilateral triangle by independent, although
connected design thinking, or even dare we say, by chance?