Human-shaped depictions from Göbekli Tepe in Turkey include an intentionally decapitated human statue, left, a gift bearer holding a human head in his hands and a pillar showing a headless individual with one arm raised (at bottom right). Human-shaped depictions from Göbekli Tepe in Turkey include an intentionally decapitated human statue, left, a gift bearer holding a human head in his hands and a pillar showing a headless individual with one arm raised (at bottom right). More than 9,000 years ago, a mysterious group of hunter-gatherers built what might be described as the world's first known temple. It is known today as Göbekli Tepe. Located in southern Turkey, this ancient place of ritual worship predates Stonehenge by 6,000 years and the first Egyptian pyramids by 5,000 years.
An ancient "skull cult" might've existed thousands of years ago in present-day Turkey. Three deeply carved skulls found at the Göbekli Tepe archaeological site suggest that humans disfigured the bones as part of a ritual, perhaps to venerate the dead or absorb the powers of fallen enemies, a team of German anthropologists reported this week in a new study. Skull cults were common during the Neolithic period, which began around 10,000 B.C. Other digs worldwide have uncovered skulls covered in paint or plaster, or bearing intricate designs. In some modern Pacific Island cultures, skulls still represent a link between the living and the dead. A, C, D: carvings, B: drilled perforation.
Carved skull fragments found at an ancient site in Turkey reveal that the ceremonial grounds were used by a previously undiscovered'skull cult' 11,000 years ago. The brutal modifications, which were etched into the skulls after death using sharp flint tools, have never been seen before among human remains of the time. Damage to fragments of bone found at the Göbekli Tepe site includes holes drilled into the top of skulls and deeply gouged strips across their surface. The ritual carvings could have been used to strip'power' from the dead - either the remains of loved ones or the corpses of conquered enemies. They could also have been used to stabilise the skulls as they were strung up around the ritualistic site on display.
Archaeologists say that human skulls may have once decorated an ancient temple at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. Three carved skull fragments were unearthed at the Neolithic dig site, according to research published in the journal Science Advances, potentially indicating a previously-unknown "skull cult" or ritual group. The skulls may have been used to venerate ancestors or as part of a display of dispatched enemies. "Throughout history, people have valued skulls for different reasons, from ancestor worship to the belief that human skulls transmit protective properties," explained the researchers, in a press release. Julia Gresky, an anthropologist at the German Archaeological Institute and the study's lead author, observed the skulls with colleagues during research at Göbekli Tepe.
Honestly, we should all be so comfortable with death that we're willing to carve stuff into people's skulls. Calling ancient civilizations "skull cults" gives them a creepy vibe, like they were the Neolithic version of that stringy-haired kid who always wore the same Dark Side of the Moon shirt in high school. Really, the intended connotation is just "these folks were pretty darn focused on skulls." If the ancient "skull cult" making the news today was a cult the way most of us think of a cult, it was a pretty bad one. The three carved skulls in question only make up 15 percent of all the crania found at Göbekli Tepe, the oldest temple site in the world.