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Architecture                  11,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

 

Southwest Asia

 

The site of Gobekli Tepe [in Eastern trukey] 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. (126)

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. (126)

About three years ago, intrigued by the first scant details of the site, I flew out to Gobekli. ...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, as he put it: 'Gobekli Tepe is not the Garden of Eden: it is a temple in Eden.' (126)

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. 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. (126)

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. (126)

In the pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. As we walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars' broad sides....because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity's first "cathedral on a hill." (127)

In rapid-fire German he explains that he has mapped the entire summit using ground-penetrating radar and geomagnetic surveys, charting where at least 16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres. The one-acre excavation covers less than 5 percent of the site. He says archaeologists could dig here for another 50 years and barely scratch the surface. (127)

Egypt

 10,500 BC is the astronomical dating of the ground plan of the Pyramids and the Sphinx...(161)

It is easy to see how the behaviour of Orion and Draco, and thus their cosmic functions, could have come to be seen as linked by the ancients. Indeed, as scientific observations have confirmed, they are linked, by the cycle of precession, in a great cosmic see-saw which swings up and down like the pendulum of time itself. Computer simulations covering thousands of years show us that as Orion's altitude at the south meridian steadily rises Draco's altitude at the north meridian steadily falls. When Draco reaches its lowest point, Orion reaches its highest point. Then the opposite side of the cycle begins with Draco steadily rising and Orion steadily falling. The 'up' motion takes just under 13,000 years. The 'down' motion takes just under 13,000 years. And so it proceeds, up for 13,000 years, down for 13,000 years - to all extents and purposes for ever. What is particularly intriguing is that the sky-ground plans of Angkor and Giza have succeed in capturing the highest point in Draco's trajectory and the lowest point in Orion's - the end in other words, of one half-cycle of precession and thus the beginning of the next. This last happened, we know, around the year 10,500 BC, in which epoch the ecliptic north pole lay due north of the celestial north pole at dawn on the spring equinox and the pattern of the stars in the sky was taken as the template for the pattern on the ground of the monuments of Angkor and Giza. (161)

Indus Valley

  10,500 BC is the astronomical dating of the ground plan of the Naga temples of Angkor...(161)

It is easy to see how the behaviour of Orion and Draco, and thus their cosmic functions, could have come to be seen as linked by the ancients. Indeed, as scientific observations have confirmed, they are linked, by the cycle of precession, in a great cosmic see-saw which swings up and down like the pendulum of time itself. Computer simulations covering thousands of years show us that as Orion's altitude at the south meridian steadily rises Draco's altitude at the north meridian steadily falls. When Draco reaches its lowest point, Orion reaches its highest point. Then the opposite side of the cycle begins with Draco steadily rising and Orion steadily falling. The 'up' motion takes just under 13,000 years. The 'down' motion takes just under 13,000 years. And so it proceeds, up for 13,000 years, down for 13,000 years - to all extents and purposes for ever. What is particularly intriguing is that the sky-ground plans of Angkor and Giza have succeed in capturing the highest point in Draco's trajectory and the lowest point in Orion's - the end in other words, of one half-cycle of precession and thus the beginning of the next. This last happened, we know, around the year 10,500 BC, in which epoch the ecliptic north pole lay due north of the celestial north pole at dawn on the spring equinox and the pattern of the stars in the sky was taken as the template for the pattern on the ground of the monuments of Angkor and Giza. (161)

China

 

Europe

 One of the most amply documented Upper Paleolithic cultures in eastern Europe is the Kostenski-Bershevo culture centered in the Don River Valley, about 470 kilometers southeast of Moscow. About 25,000 to 11,000 years ago, the Kostenski-Bershevo area was an open grassland environment, with no rock shelters, caves, or other natural habitations, and with very little wood available for fires. People here left a variety of archeological sites, including base camps, where pit houses were constructed  by digging a pit a meter or so deep, ringing the excavation with mammoth bones or tusks, and then draping hides over these supports. Some excavated pit houses were relatively large, with many hearths, suggesting that several families may have passed the winter together.(24)

South America

 Monte Verde, on the banks of Chinchihuapi Creek, is in the hills near the town of Puerto Mont, 500 miles south of Santiago. As Dr. Dillehay reconstructed the prehistoric scene in his mind, a group of 20 to 30 people occupied Monte Verde for a year or so. They lived in shelters covered in animal hides. The evidence to support this picture is extensive. Excavations turned up wooden planks from some of the 12 huts that once stood in the camp, and logs with attached pieces of hide that probably insulated these shelters. Pieces of wooden poles and stakes were still tied with cords made of local grasses, a telling sign that ingenious humans had been there. "That's something nature doesn't do," Dr. Barker said. "Tie overhand knots." (98)

Nothing at Monte Verde was more evocative of its former inhabitants than a single footprint beside a hearth. A child had stood there by the fire 12,500 years ago and left a lasting impression in the soft clay. (98)

Here is what was happening at Monte Verde some 12,500 years ago: At some point about twenty or thirty people built a twenty-foot-long tentlike structure of wood and animal hides on the banks of the creek. They framed the structure with logs and planks that were staked to the ground, making walls of poles covered with animal hides, Using cordage made of local reeds, they tied the hides to the poles, dividing the interior with similar hide-and-pole walls into what appear to be separate living spaces. Each such area had a brazier pit lined with clay. At many hearths, they left some stone tools and spilled seeds, nuts, and berries. Some of the hearths and living spaces in the living tent even suggest a certain specialization in the accomplishing of chores: one hearth and its surrounding living space in the tent were characterized by cutting tools made of quartz and fruits and tubers from brackish estuaries; another living space appeared to be a specialized area for working hides. It appears that at least some of the group remained at the site year-round or most of the year. (130)

...the city of Tiahuanaco was once a port, complete with extensive docks, positioned right on the the shore of Lake Titicaca. The problem is that Tiahuanaco's ruins are now marooned about twelve miles south of the lake and more than 100 feet higher than the present shoreline. In the period since the city was built, it therefore follows that one of two things must have happened: either the level of lake has fallen greatly or the land on which Tiahuanaco stands has risen comparably. Based on the mathematical astronomical calculations of Professor Arthur Posnansky of the University of La Paz, and of Professor Rolf Muller (who also challenged the official dating of Machu Picchu), it pushes the main phase of construction at Tiahuanaco back to 15,OOO BC. This chronology also indicates that the city later suffered immense destruction in a phenomenal natural catastrophe around the eleventh millennium BC, and thereafter rapidly became separated from the lakeshore. (152)

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 

Other

 …by 11,000 BC Japanese of the Jomon culture were using pottery--the earliest known extensive ceramics industry in the world--and living for all or most of the year in communities of pit-houses, subsisting on a rich and varied diet of deer, bear, whale, salmon and many other fish, seabirds, shellfish in abundance, and numerous kinds of berries, nuts, and other plants.(50)