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There are also numerous statues, animal bones, carved beads, amulets and flint tools.Researchers are still not sure what rites occurred in this haunting space — perhaps wedding ceremonies, conflict mediations or male initiation rites.There is no doubt that the cuts were made after death because there is no sign of healing on the bone, the authors wrote.However, it is likely that the carving occurred shortly after death.
Were they a comfort to those who visited the temple? “Unfortunately, we will never know exactly what happened,” she said.
Human-shaped depictions from Goebekli 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.
(Dieter Johannes and Klaus Schmidt / Goebekli Tepe Archive/German Archaeological Institute) More than 9,000 years ago, a mysterious group of hunter-gatherers built what might be described as the world’s first known temple.
Although archaeologists have been working there for more than two decades, they have excavated less than 10% of the site, Clare said.
In the meantime, Gresky said she imagines these prehistoric people carving the skulls of their ancestors to mark them as special, or maybe to perform some act of commemoration.