Archaeoastronomy is a relatively new scientific discipline, which as the name implies combines archaeology and astronomy, particularly in the study of ancient megalithic monuments and their possible alignment with various celestial bodies.
Arguably the most famous example is Stonehenge, but our globe is littered with ancient monuments incorporating solar, lunar or astral alignments. Not all are as impressive or accessible as Stonehenge, Callanish or Newgrange but in remote places such as Nabta Playa or Fajada Butte (see Hadingham[1308.152]).
The subject was initially considered by some to be a ‘fringe’ topic, but in 1999 Clive Ruggles was appointed Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester(a) and is the author of the encyclopedic Ancient Astronomy.
The University of Maryland has had a Center for Archaeoastronomy since 1978(c).
The subject has never been central to Atlantis studies but has hovered in the background, with writers such as Egerton Sykes(b) and Graham Hancock who employed aspects of the discipline in their publications.
Giulio Magli (1964- ) is an Italian archaeaostronomer with a website in English(e) dedicated to the application of the discipline in Egypt. In 2013, Magli proposed that aspects of the Göbleki Tepe site are related to the recent appearance of Sirius in the night sky around 9300 BC(f). Andrew Collins and Rodney Hale argue against this interpretation(g), which is perhaps understandable as they support a linkage with the Cygnus constellation. A 2004 paper by Magli, on precessional effects in ancient astronomy(h), has recently been applied by Lenie Reedijk to her contention that the Maltese temples were oriented to Sirius.
A further application of the discipline was employed by Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis who used it to interpret the carved symbols at Göbekli Tepe. In a 2017 paper(d) they concluded that the pillars there were used to record meteor showers and cometary encounters. They believe that one such encounter involved the explosion or impact of part of Encke’s Comet around 13,000 years ago, which triggered the Younger Dryas Event that kick-started the Neolithic Revolution.*Scientists who have worked on the site responded critically (i), which in turn evoked further comments from Sweatman and Tsikritsis(j).
Sweatman later expanded their theory in his book Prehistory Decoded .
>The Sixth Oxford International Conference on Archaeoastronomy and the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Société Européenne pour I’Astronom~e dans la Culture (SEAC, European Society for Astronomy in Culture) was held jointly in the days around the summer solstice of 1999 at the Museo de la Ciencia y el Cosmos, in the historical city of La Laguna, in the island of Tenerife. One hundred participants from more than 20 countries of the five continents and almost 60 talks indicate undoubtedly the relevance of this meeting. The Proceedings of that Conference are available online(l) offering a global view of the subject.<
Noah Brosch of Tel Aviv University offers a wide-ranging paper on the ancient sites and artefacts around the world that clearly had astronomical functions(k).
Archaeoastronomy is one of only a few dozen words with four consecutive vowels.
(j) https://www.academia.edu/33931844/MORE_THAN_A_VULTURE_A_RESPONSE_TO_SWEATMAN_AND_TSIKRITSIS (See the end of the paper)
Over the past twenty years, he has been investigating the possible existence of ancient advanced civilisations. He has written three books on the subject of pre-history. His volume on Atlantis has been well received as an example of how the subject should be researched. Although Collins initially thought that Antarctica had been home to Atlantis, he eventually concluded that Cuba was its location and provided a wealth of evidence to support this view in his book, Gateway to Atlantis. David Rohl wrote a sympathetic Introduction for the book and repeated and expanded on his expressed views at a subsequent lecture(h).
Collins also wrote of why his chosen Cuba is a better candidate for the location of Atlantis than the Bahamas(r).
Collins has recently written another controversial book, on the place of the constellation Cygnus in prehistoric consciousness. Arising from this study, it appears that the position of the Cygnus stars correlates more accurately with the Giza pyramids than those of Orion, which was proposed some years ago by Robert Bauval. Incredibly, a fifteen-year-old Canadian boy has produced a comparable theory(e) involving Mayan cities and a star map. The site proposed by him has now been identified, by people who personally know the location, as either an abandoned cornfield or a marijuana crop(f). In 2018, Gustavo Muniz posted a number of videos on YouTube suggesting an Orion connection with a site in the Amazon Basin(i)!
However, Collins has not been completely seduced by Bauval’s discovery and prudently remarks that the correlation may just be a coincidence. Jason Colavito has written a brief critique(b) of this book.
In 2002 Collins teamed up with Chris Ogilvie-Herald to write Tutankhamun . It is a great read involving as it does, unexplained deaths, political intrigue and possible blackmail. Howard Carter and Lord Carnavon are also accused of looting some of the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb. However, for me, the core weakness in this book is that it is dependent on a claim that the plunder taken by Carter and Carnavon had included papyrus documents, the contents of which allegedly contained material that was still deemed politically sensitive even three thousand years later! Without the papyrus, there is no book.
In 2007, he wrote an article(q) for Alternate Perceptions Magazine reviewing the comet impact theory of Richard Firestone et al and its possible implication for his Atlantis theory.
In 2005, Collins published The Cygnus Mysteryin which he explored the significance of the Cygnus constellation in the ancient cultures of America, Egypt and Britain. (a condensed version of the book is available online(s)). Furthermore, in August 2013 he published a paper(c) with Rodney Hale suggesting that the Göbekli Tepe site is probably aligned with the star Deneb in the Cygnus constellation. This idea has now been expanded on in Collins’ 2014 book, Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, although his treatment has been heavily criticised as pseudoscience(g).
In a recent paper(t), Andrew Collins has disputed Bauval‘s Orion Correlation Theory and has instead offered evidence that the alignment of the three principal Giza pyramids matches more closely the ‘wing’ stars of the Cygnus constellation than the ‘belt’ of Orion! Greg Little offered some rather lukewarm support for Collins’ alternative to the OCT(u).
Nevertheless, Little & Collins teamed up as co-authors of Denisovan Origins  in 2019, a literary bromance that has led to another joint offering, Origins of the Gods due for publication in 2022, in which the authors explore “how our ancestors used shamanic rituals at sacred sites to create portals for communication with non-human intelligences”. If that does not sufficiently whet your appetite, the news that the well known convicted fraudster Erich von Däniken has written the Foreword should clinch it for you.
Collins has made some dramatic claims regarding the significance of Cygnus including the proposal that “The veneration of Cygnus as a bird associated with cosmic life and death goes back 17,000 years to when the constellation occupied pole position in the northern night sky” and perhaps even more extreme, the idea that “Cygnus is at the root of all the world’s religions.”
Collins continues with the Cygnus-Giza connection in a subsequent offering Beneath the Pyramids. This book reveals the tunnels and chambers beneath the Giza pyramids and their possible connection with the “Hall of Records” predicted by Edgar Cayce to be located there and due for discovery.
In a paper(d), co-authored with Rodney Hale, published in April 2016, Collins returned to the theory of a Cygnus-Giza correlation based on a master plan that they claim can now be demonstrated mathematically.
Collins has now moved on to new ground with his Lightquest, in which he attempts to offer a new explanation for the UFO phenomena. He claims that what has been described as UFOs are “the product of sentient light forms and light intelligences that co-exist with humanity, and have done so since time immemorial.”
Nevertheless, Collins returns to the subject of Atlantis with a new book, Atlantis in the Caribbean, which is a revised version of Gateway to Atlantis. In it, he follows some of Otto Muck’s ideas and “Explains how Atlantis was destroyed by a comet, the same comet that formed the mysterious Carolina Bays“.
When the Denisovans were recently identified as an extinct species of hominid, related to the Neanderthals It did not take long for speculative history enthusiasts to jump on board this new bandwagon. Andrew Collins has now published The Cygnus Key, in which he claims to present “compelling evidence showing that the earliest origins of human culture, religion, and technology derive from the Denisovans, the true creators of the lost civilization long known to exist but never before proved.” Jason Colavito also presents a critique of this latest ‘Cygnus’ book in a two-part(m)(n) offering.
While the first Denisovan remains were found in Siberia, there is now evidence that they were also the earliest hominins on the Tibetan Plateau(j).
Before the identification of the Denisovans, Colin Wilson had claimed that the Neanderthals “were the civilising force behind Atlantis”! One cannot help wondering if another early hominid species is discovered, which is quite possible, will they also be claimed as the progenitors of Plato’s lost civilisation?
In this new book Collins also “explains how the stars of Cygnus coincided with the turning point of the heavens at the moment the Denisovan legacy was handed to the first human societies in southern Siberia some 45,000 years ago, catalyzing beliefs in swan ancestry and an understanding of Cygnus as the source of cosmic creation.” Hmm.
>Collins and Rodney Hale have studied the Gunung Padang site in Indonesia, which has generated claims of antiquity greater than that of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. While their investigation raised a number of minor matters, they were unable to endorse the rather extreme dates suggested until more convincing data is available(x).<
In June 2019, Collins published a two-part article(l) on the Ancient Origins website, in which he explores the possibility of Giza’s Great Pyramid having sound technology incorporated into its construction and that “its Dead-end passage function as an infrasound generator?”
Later in 2019, Collins had his 1996 book, From the Ashes of Angels, banned in Turkey(p), it is not clear yet if he is personally banned as well. Apparently, it all stems from some perceived support that Collins gave to the Kurdish cause in ‘Ashes’! I hope he refrains from mentioning the Armenians.>A YouTube video from Collins offers his account of the episode(y).<
Andrew Collins maintains a useful website(a) that has plenty of information on his books and lectures. He also offers an extended section relating to his Atlantis theories(o). Nevertheless he does seem to have retained his interest in metaphysical subjects, which is where he started.
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 Smithsonian.com website noted(be) that “Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s. As part of a sweeping survey of the region, they visited the hill, saw some broken slabs of limestone and assumed the mound was nothing more than an abandoned medieval cemetery.”
The site 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, maybe even older(av), with a suggested date of 12,500 to 11,700 years ago!>Furthermore, another site, Boncuklu Tarla, located about 300 kilometers east of Göbekli Tepe is also believed to be older(br).<
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 was 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. Further north is the ancient site of Kahin Tepe considered to be the oldest temple site in the Black Sea region. The remains of structures there have been identified as belonging to the Aceramic Neolithic Period, which dates back as far back as 12,000 years ago(bf).
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, such dates are highly speculative and, at this point, without any scientific basis.
An imaginative article by Tom Knox, in the UK’s Daily Mail Online, suggested that Göbekli Tepe may be connected with the Garden of Eden(bd). Klaus Schmidt commented that ‘Gobekli Tepe is not the Garden of Eden: it is a temple in Eden.’
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 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 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.
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 the 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 is ‘reported’ to have hundreds of pillars, many T-shaped(h). In September 2019, a start on the excavation of the site was announced(aw). Work continued through 2020 and is expected to restart in 2021(bg). The suggestion now is that Karahan Tepe may older than Göbekli Tepe(bq).<Andrew Collins has written a paper entitled Karahan Tepe: Göbekli Tepe’s Sister Site—Another Temple Of The Stars?(bj)
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.
Nevertheless, Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore have written(bi) about the Cygnus Constellation and a possible link with Ireland’s Newgrange .
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 several 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 was 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 some 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?
A 2016 paper(bm) by J.A. Belmonte, et al offers a review of recent archaeoastronomical studies in the Eastern Mediterranean including Göbekli, the Hittites and the Egyptians.
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 .
Shortly after Sweatman & Tsikritsis (S&T) published their paper, a number of the archaeologists who have excavated at the site quickly published, in the same journal, several critical comments relating to the methodology and conclusions of S&T(bn).
The interpretation of the carvings has exercised the imagination of various researchers such as Graham Hancock, Andis Kaulins, Paul Burley, as well as Sweatman and Tsikritsis, but no consensus has emerged, apart from an element of an agreement that some form of zodiacal representation is involved. The range of decipherments is discussed in detail in a paper by Edmond Furter who is disinclined to accept the zodiac explanation(bl).
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. Archaeologists 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 truth, 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 southeast 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).
In 2020, Stone Age rock tombs were excavated not too far from Göbekli Tepe at the Kizilkoyun Necropolis area, adding to the importance of the region(bc).
Also, in April 2020, Haaretz published a report that “a discovery by Israeli archaeologists suggests the Göbekli Tepe construction project was even more complex than previously thought and required an amount of planning and resources thought to be impossible for those times.”(bh)
In June 2021, “Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told reporters gathered in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa that several new sites had been found in the vicinity of Göbeklitepe.” and “We have [discovered] 11 more major hills on a 100-kilometre line around Göbeklitepe,” Ersoy declared. “Here, we will give the details for the first time, and now call it 12 hills.” In fact, Ersoy offered few details about what had been found at these new sites. He explained that a “major study” was on the verge of being completed and said the results of that study would be released in September 2021.”(bk)
Graham Hancock had visited the Karahan Tepe site in 2020 and found a team of Turkish archaeologists well-advanced with their excavations. As their findings were unpublished until now(bp), Hancock refrained from offering his observations(bo). The enclosure revealed a carved human head protruding from the bedrock as well as a number of pillars that appeared to represent phalli! Hancock echoed Minister Ersoy’s comments noting that “a dozen other sites of similar antiquity are under excavation in the so-called “Stone Hills” area, a zone of intense interest to archaeologists extending for 100 square kilometres around Gobekli Tepe.”
(bm) (99+) (PDF) J.A. Belmonte, A.C. González García, A. Polcaro, A. Rodríguez-Antón, M. Schaltout, ORIENTATIO AD SIDERA (OAS): HIGHLIGHTS OF A DECADE OF ARCHAEOASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH IN THE MEDITERRANEAN REGION AND BEYOND, in Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 16/4, 2016, pp. 93-101. | Andrea Polcaro and A. Cesar Gonzalez-Garcia – Academia.edu
(bo) https://www.cnnturk.com/amp/turkiye/gobeklitepe-gibi-12-buyuk-kesif-daha-geliyor-insanligin-sirrini-taslarin-dili-anlatacak; and https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-10050217/Stunning-carvings-human-figures-heads-uncovered-Karahantepe.htm.