Research ArticleANTHROPOLOGY

Modified human crania from Göbekli Tepe provide evidence for a new form of Neolithic skull cult

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science Advances  28 Jun 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 6, e1700564
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700564

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Abstract

Archaeological excavations at Göbekli Tepe, a transitional Neolithic site in southeast Turkey, have revealed the earliest megalithic ritual architecture with characteristic T-shaped pillars. Although human burials are still absent from the site, a number of fragmented human bones have been recovered from fill deposits of buildings and from adjacent areas. We focus on three partially preserved human skulls, all of which carry artificial modifications of a type so far unknown from contemporaneous sites and the ethnographic record. As such, modified skull fragments from Göbekli Tepe could indicate a new, previously undocumented variation of skull cult in the Early Neolithic of Anatolia and the Levant.

Keywords
  • Human skull
  • taphonomy
  • ritual
  • Anatolia
  • Pre-Pottery Neolithic
  • carving

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text