The Garden of Eden, like Atlantis, has excited the imagination of many over the centuries. Its location has been the subject of what was sometimes wild speculation that offered a range of locations comparable with the variety of sites proposed for Atlantis.
The traditional belief was that the ‘Garden’ had been situated in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris as noted in the Bible. Athanasius Kircher, who is better known to many for his speculative map of Atlantis located in the Atlantic Ocean also produced a plan of the Garden of Eden in what is now southern Iraq. David J. Gibson (1904-1966) arrived at a similar conclusion placing ‘Eden’ just south of Baghdad in his book, The Land of Eden Located, now available online(t).
More recently, Robert McRoberts in an article about the rivers of Eden included map by Arianna Ravenswood, who placed Eden northwest of Babylon in what is now the Iraqi Province of Diyala(u).
Within the same region is a submerged location at the head of the Persian Gulf promoted by Juris Zarins (1945- )(w) . In his theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the Karun River in Iran, and the Pishon River would match the Wadi Batin river system that had drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula. His suggestion about the Pishon River is supported by James A. Sauer (1945–1999) formerly of the American Center of Oriental Research although strongly criticized by the archaeological community(x) .
The conventional idea has been enhanced in the opinion of some by the discoveries of the German archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt, who believed that his excavations at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey have unearthed artefacts dating to 8000 BC, when the people there changed from hunting and gathering to agriculture. This region also contains Ur and Harran, mentioned in the Old Testament and as Göblekli Tepe is located between the Tigris and Euphrates and is within view of the Taurus Mountains, it conforms remarkably to the topographical description of Eden in the Bible.
Christopher Columbus believed that the source of the Orinoco River, in what is now known as Venezuela had been the location of Eden. Antonio de León Pinelo (1590-1660) was a Spanish chronicler who spent some years in South America and was also convinced that the Garden of Eden had been situated between the great rivers of South America(k)!
The imaginative Augustus Le Plongeon claimed the Yucatan as the location of the ‘Garden’(s).
General Gordon of Khartoum fame was so impressed by the island of Preslin in the Seychelles that he declared it to be the Garden of Eden and its famed Coco de Mer and breadfruit plants to be the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil. Science writer, Karl Shuker, has written an extensive article, Forbidden Fruit, for the January 2016 edition of Fortean Times, in which he gives the background to Gordon’s obsession and his inabilty to garner any serious support for it.
At the beginning of the 20th century it was reported(r) that G. F. Becker (1847-1919) a geologist with the USGS nominated Luzon in the Philippines as the site of the biblical ‘Garden’, while Sven Hedin (1865-1952) a much decorated Swedish geographer chose Janaidar a mythical city in Central Asia.
George H. Cooper, the American writer, identified Salisbury Plain[0236.111] as the Garden of Eden along with its Wiltshire river system matching the Euphrates and Tigris in the Genesis story.>W. Comyns Beaumont chose Britain’s Glastonbury as site of the original Garden.<
In the middle of the last century, a Baptist preacher, Elvy E. Callaway, announced that the Garden had been located in the vicinity of Bristol, Florida(j).
David Rohl has studied the matter in great detail and located the ‘Garden’ in northern Iranian province of East Azerbaijan near the city of Tabriz. Rohl’s reasoning is worthy of study and perhaps comparison with the views of Emilio Spedicato, who offers his reasoning for placing Eden in Pakistan’s Hunza Valley in two papers on the Internet(b)(y). Rohl was partly inspired by the work of Reginald A. Walker[1388/9]
Andrew Collins claims that the original Mesopotamian name for Eden was Kharsag, a view echoed by the late Christian O’Brien(q). O’Brien’s nephew, Edmund Marriage, identifies the Bekka Valley in Lebanon as the location of Eden of Genesis. A new Lebanese location site is the subject of a website and forum(h)(i). An excerpt from O’Brien’s book, relating to Eden, can be read online(v).
The Sabbah brothers, Roger and Messod, controversially place Eden in Egypt and offer a range of evidence to support this contention. Ralph Ellis has also opted for Egypt in his book, Eden in Egypt and claims that Adam and Eve were in reality Akhenaton and Nefertiti! Ellis also supports his theory with two online papers providing excerpts from his books(o)(p).
Further to the west is the Tunisian town of Oudna, which has been nominated as Eden by one Patrick Archer on his somewhat spartan website(d).
What may appear just as implausible to many is the claim by Felice Vinci, that the Eden story was imported from northern Europe, specifically from Finnish Lappland. Even more incredible is the assertion by the likes of William C. Chappell that the Garden of Eden was in fact situated in the United States. His Mormon inspired views are available as a free eBook(c) on the Internet.
A more ‘commercial’ suggestion has been that Tarpon Springs, Florida, was originally the location of the Garden of Eden and furthermore that Tampa Bay contained the port of Atlantis.
The Urantia Book promotes the idea of two Edens, one near Cyprus and a second further east! In 2003, Robert Sarmast compiled a list of similarities between Plato’s account of Atlantis and the description of the Garden of Eden in the Urantia Book(l).
Stephen Oppenheimer has pointed out that Genesis 2:8 reads that “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden”. He argues (p.409) that this supports the idea of a ‘paradise’ in the Sundaland region. However, Oppenheimer does not equate Eden with Atlantis.
According to his well illustrated website(f) Paulo Riven has located the Garden of Eden just north of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.
The Garden of Eden has been suggested by some as another name for Atlantis representing as it does a mythical time of peace and abundance. However, Eden is never spoken of in the terms of military might and commercial success attributed to Atlantis. One of the better known proponents of this idea of an Atlantean Eden was the late Professor Arysio dos Santos(a) who was convinced that it was located in the South China Sea before the ending of the last Ice Age submerged large areas of Sundaland. Shortly before his death in 2005 he published his theories, expanding on material that he had made available on the Internet for some years. Frank Joseph also claims that the Garden of Eden was located on the lost island of ‘Lemuria’ located in the Pacific.
Bill Hanson, who has authored a number of books on ancient ‘mysteries’, has recently written a work that links the Garden of Eden with Atlantis. He identifies five similarities between the two accounts:
- Both prehistoric locations are regarded as ‘lost paradises’
- The four rivers of Eden are reflected in the four waterways of Poseidon the island capital of Atlantis.
- Atlantis started with ten kings and the Bible speaks of ten patriarchs.
- Zeus destroyed Atlantis because mortals and gods mated, whereas the Bible records the mating of the ‘sons of God’ and human females.
- Atlantis was flooded just as the Age of the Patriarchs ended with the flood of Noah.
The late Joseph Robert Jochmans also identified(g) Atlantis with Eden in a comprehensive article on his website. John Nichols wrote a long article(e) identifying Atlantis with the Garden of Eden and placing it on the Celtic Shelf about a hundred miles off the coast of France due west of Brest. Frederick Dodson also claims an Atlantis-Garden of Eden connection(n). In 2018, the Catalan researcher, José Luis Espejo also equated Atlantis with the Garden of Eden.
Currently. the sadly benighted Iraq is trying to lure tourists to holidays in ‘the Garden of Eden’(m)!
(g) See: Archive 3602
(h) See: Archive 3182
(k) See: Archive 2999
(l) See: Archive 3603
Göbekli Tepe is a site in South-East Turkey, just north of the Syrian border near the town of Sanliurfa that has been excavated for the past 15 years. The work has been led by the German archaeologist, the late Klaus Schmidt, who has dated the site to 9600 BC, eerily coinciding with Plato’s apparent date for the war with Atlantis. In fairness to those who accept Plato’s date, the existence of the monuments at Göbekli Tepe at such an early date at least indicates the possibility, of Plato’s date being correct. However, I am not altogether happy with the date assigned to the site, as I cannot imagine how the stones were carved to such a high standard without metal tools, a development still some thousands of years in the future. Dating details are available online(ar).
*There is now a claim that another site, Körtik Tepe, may be even older(av), with a suggested date of 12,500 to 11,700 years ago!*
A paper by Schmidt on the development of agriculture at the time of Göbekli Tepe is freely available online(ao)
Sanliurfa mentioned above, was ancient Urfa and is suggested by David Rohl as the original Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.
The site consists of megalithic stone circles with T-shaped uprights on some of which are carved a variety of animals. What is most peculiar is the fact that these monuments were completely buried after hundreds of years of use. One suggestion is that that the site is pre-diluvian and was buried by the biblical Flood!
A paper by Alastair Coombs entitled The Atlantis Twins offered further thoughts on possible prehistoric references, including a suggested link with Göbekli Tepe. This was expanded and retitled Göbekli Tepe & the Atlantis Twins and later published on Graham Hancock’s website(aq).
Schmidt ws convinced that this site marked the transition from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural society. An interesting article is to be found in the March/April 2009 issue of Saudi Aramco World and on its website(a).
The consensus now is that Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known temple in the world, predating the temples of Malta by an astonishing 4,000-5,000 years. This, of course, is based on the dating offered by Schmidt, which may require revision. However, Adam’s Calendar(c) in Mpumalanga, South Africa, has been dated to over 70,000 BC, which, if true, would throw an even greater number of theories onto the scrapheap.
However, the idea that Göbekli Tepe is a temple site has been challenged by Professor Ted Banning at the University of Toronto, who has claimed(j) that it was ‘one of the world’s biggest garbage dumps’ suggested by the amounts of bones, tools and charcoal found there. Instead, he claims that the structures were homes, I personally find this unconvincing. Needless to say Schmidt was also unhappy with Banning’s contention and was writing a rebuttal of his claim, which I’m not sure if this was completed or published.
Readers might be interested in comparing the monuments of Gobekli Tepe with the taulas of Menorca(d)at the far end of the Mediterranean. Some of which are also to be found in clusters.
Studies have apparently confirmed astronomical alignments at these sites(i). A German site has highlighted a possible connection(ac). The most extensive publication on the subject of taulas was published in 1995 by Hochsieder & Knösel, in French.
Studies have apparently confirmed astronomical alignments at these sites(i). National Geographic magazine published a leading article on the site in June 2011, which can be read online(e). A new website devoted to Göbekli Tepe with more images is worth a visit(f). Another well illustrated site(k) has drawn attention to the possibility that the animal images at the site match constellations at the time they were carved. It will be interesting to see how this particular investigation proceeds.
Nevertheless, another temple site 30 km to the northwest, Nevali Çori(g), dated to 6,000 BC also has T-shaped pillars but in my mind it raises the question of how the same form of monument would still be in use three and a half thousand years later. I would expect some stylistic evolution unless of course the dating of the two sites should be closer.
Another large site designated as Karahan Tepe(t), which is 63 km east of Sanliurfa has hundreds of pillars, many T-shaped, but the site has yet to be excavated. Page 6 of a pdf file(h) will give you more details. In September 2019, a start on the excavation of the site was announced(aw).
A Norwegian website(l) has some little-seen images of the Göbekli Tepe site.
A new suggestion has now emerged linking Easter Island and the ongoing discoveries at Göbekli Tepe. This seems to date back to early 2010(m) and has now been given greater prominence in Robert Schoch’s most recent book, Forgotten Civilization. A 2013 article(n) by Schoch includes a report of a recent visit by him to the site.
In July 2013 a paper(o)(p) by Giulio Magli explores the possibility that Göbekli Tepe had been constructed to “celebrate and successively follow the appearance of a new, extremely brilliant star in the southern skies: Sirius.” Sirius is the brightest star and had significance for ancient Egyptians and Greeks and features in Robert Temple’s theory regarding the astronomical knowledge of the Dogon people of Mali.
Magli’s suggestion has been dismissed in a paper(q) by Andrew Collins and Rodney Hale, who have made the alternative proposal that if there was an intended astronomical orientation, a more likely candidate was the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation. Collins has already explored the significance of that constellation in the ancient cultures of America, Egypt and Britain in The Cygnus Mystery. In 2014 Collins devoted an entire book to the Göbekli Tepe discoveries with the publication of Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods. In it he refers briefly to Atlantis commenting that “Plato’s account of Atlantis might well be based on some kind of historical reality” (p.168). This seems to lack the certainty he showed in his best-selling Gateway to Atlantis. Additionally, Collins has produced a 68-minute video entitled Gobekli Tepe and the Watchers of Eden, referencing his earlier work(w). A preview(y) of Genesis of the Gods has been published on a number of websites including Academia.edu and Graham Hancock.com. Collins’ book has been heavily criticised as pseudoscience(an) by at least one commentator.
Hugh Newman, author and self-confessed ‘megalithomaniac’ has now proposed links between Göbekli Tepe and ancient Peru. He has also managed to include Göbekli Tepe in his theory of earth grids(r). Another writer, Trebha Cooper, claims a link between France and Göbekli Tepe(x)!
The unexpected death of Klaus Schmidt (1953-2014) took place on Sunday July 20th 2014 and announced shortly afterwards(s).
In September 2014, archaeologists on the site were describing it as “the oldest known sculptural workshop on the planet.”(v)
The excellent The Stream of Time website from ‘antiquated antiquarian’ has a couple of well illustrated blogs relating to Göbekli Tepe(z) and the region generally.
In April 2015, the Ancient Origins website published a two-part article(ag) by Ozgür Baris Etli, a Turkish scientist,in which he discusses the most recent discoveries on the site. The article(aa)(ab) is well illustrated as the author reviews the carvings there and their possible relevance to the early development of religion. In a 2016 article(ah), on the same site, he has drawn attention to the similarity of the position of carved hands at Göbekli Tepe, Easter Island as well as number of other sites around the world where the hands are shown meeting at the navel. The significance of this, if any, is not known.
What has been identified as possibly the earliest pictograph in the world has now been revealed at the Göbekli Tepe site(ad). Andrew Collins also claims(ae) to have found the earliest depiction of Göbekli Tepe in the museum at Sanliurfa. Not unexpectedly Jason Colavito has a few words to say on the matter(af). Colavito also has a critical view(ai) of the recent Turkish documentary, supported by the government, which claims that Göbekli Tepe was built by Telah, Abraham’s father, and destroyed by Abraham. So who built Nevali Çori?
The March 2017 edition of Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry (Vol.17, No.1, pp 233-250) includes a paper(aj) by M.B. Sweatman & D. Tsikritsis of the University of Edinburgh. In it they claim that the animals carved on the Göbekli Tepe pillars represent asterisms and that they found “compelling evidence that the famous ‘Vulture Stone’ is a date stamp for 10950 BC ± 250 yrs, which corresponds closely to the proposed Younger Dryas event, estimated at 10890 BC.” Understandably, their claims have been met with stony scepticism(ak). Sweatman has expanded his ideas further in Prehistory Decoded .
In an August 2019 article on Graham Hancock’s website(at) Sweatman ventures further into the realms of wild speculation with the suggestion that Göbekli Tepe should be considered the world’s first ‘university’. This obviously had Jason Colavito spluttering into his cereal bowl, prompting him to apply his literary scalpel to the idea(au) .
Constantinos Ragazas has produced a paper(am) in which he argues against the early date ascribed to Göbekli Tepe by Schmidt and others. He ponders on “How a Date can go wrong: Were Göbekli Tepe built 600 BC by Babylonians/Assyrians, no one would flinch a thought. It is the Date that makes Göbekli Tepe an enigma. The great dilemma for archaeologists is reconciling the date with the people that built Göbekli Tepe. Either the date is wrong or our theories of prehistoric people are wrong. And prehistoric people were more capable 12,000 years ago than all our other evidence tell us. Archeologists trust their date over their understanding of prehistoric people. I argue the date is wrong. And prehistoric people were as we have always thought.” While this is controversial enough, Ragazas goes further and claims that Göbekli Tepe is in fact the site of the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’!
However, Ragazas’ reservations regarding the early dating of Göbekli Tepe were given further support in an extensive 2016 paper(ap) by Dimitrios Dendrinos of the University of Kansas.
In March 2019, a paper by Roger M. Pearlman put forward another radical idea, namely, that Göbekli Tepe had been founded by Noah (Noach) and his sons(as).
There was further excitement at Göbekli Tepe in September 2019 when Andrew Collins was removed from the site and his book, From the Ashes of Angels, banned in Turkey and Collins himself may be subject to a ban. It seems that he may have expressed pro-Kurdish sentiments, which is a big no-no with the Turkish authorities. It is also speculated that some of Collins’ historical views run counter to some extreme Islamic interpretation of the past!
2019 produced another radical theory from A.Refik Kutluer, a Turkish tourism executive, who has proposed in an interesting article(ax) that Göbekli Tepe was a site of ritual sacrifice. He suggests the possibility that as “Men tried to placate the gods to avoid their anger and to keep them satisfied. As the gods punished them with natural disasters taking many lives when they became angry, men sought a way to mollify the gods, killing some of their own to ward off the gods’ rage, thinking that the gods were satisfied when these people or animals were sacrificed.”
2019 also saw reports(ay) of a ‘mini’ Göbekli Tepe in the Mardin Province of south east Turkey and dated to 11,300 years ago.
*In 2019, Robert Schoch in a paper(ba) written with Manu Seyfzadeh has claimed that the “world’s first known written word at Göbekli Tepe on T-Shaped Pillar 18 means God”. In a recent Lost Origins podcast, Schoch repeated this claim, which led Jason Colavito to attack its credibility(bb), finding it “remarkable that he (Schoch) can translate a heretofore unsuspected system of writing in a 10,000-year-old language no one alive has ever heard. After all, several writing systems from historic times, such as linear A, related to languages that were only spoken a few thousand years ago, remain largely unreadable. We can’t even read Etruscan fluently, and yet Schoch has supposedly learned to read an Ice Age language! Think about that. For example, Old English is largely unintelligible to modern English speakers, while the Ice Age is removed in time from us by a factor of twenty times that chronological distance. The unlikeliness of Schoch’s claim boggles the mind.”*
There are now regular updates available regarding the ongoing work at the Göbekli site, with contributions from members of the Göbekli Tepe Archaeological Research Project.(az)