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Sci Adv. 2017 Jun 28;3(6):e1700564. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700564. eCollection 2017 Jun.

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

Author information

1
Department of Natural Sciences, German Archaeological Institute, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
2
Orient Department, German Archaeological Institute, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

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:

Anatolia; Human skull; Pre-Pottery Neolithic; carving; ritual; taphonomy

PMID:
28782013
PMCID:
PMC5489262
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1700564
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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