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BONCUKLU TARLA: Why evidence also from this Neolithic settlement supports the theory that Gobekli Tepe is a 6th millennium BC site.

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The paper provides an evolutionary sequence regarding the sites Boncuklu Tarla, Nevali Cori, and Gobekli Tepe. It argues that Boncuklu Tarla is the oldest of the three and a late eighth to early seventh millennium BC site; that Nevali Cori is a late seventh to early sixth millennium BC settlement; and that Gobekli Tepe is a middle sixth millennium BC site. It also draws from modern Metrology in the setting of these dates.
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Boncuklu Tarla: Why evidence also from this Neolithic settlement
supports the theory that Gobekli Tepe is a 6th millennium BC site
Dimitrios S. Dendrinos, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, University of Kansas,
School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
In Residence at Ormond Beach, Florida, USA
Contact: cbf-jf@earthlink.net
May 5, 2021
Photo 1. The temple at the site “Boncuklu Tarla”. Source of photo: reference [A].
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Table of Contents
Abstract
Introduction
Boncuklu Tarla
Nevali Cori
Gobekli Tepe
Why is Boncuklu Tarla an earlier site than Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe
Dating the three sites
Conclusions
References
Notes
Copyright statement
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Abstract
The paper provides evidence to support the theory that the three sites, Boncuklu Tarla, Nevali
Cori, and Gobekli Tepe are linked in both space and time. An Evolutionary sequence can be
stated, based on the three sites’ temples: a millennium and one-half to seventeen centuries
separates the building of the oldest (Boncuklu Tarla) site from the youngest (Gobekli Tepe), with
Nevali Cori falling about halfway between them. The upper limit of the oldest settlement is the
later part of the 8th millennium BC to the early part of the 7th millennium BC; whereas the lower
limit of the youngest site is the middle of the 6th century BC; Nevali Cori has its initial phase of
construction hovering around the end of the 7th millennium BC and the early part of the 6th
millennium BC. A method, drawing from the field of Modern Metrology, is suggested to be
employed to address ambiguity in the dating of events from the ancient past.
Introduction
Here’s a partial list of what the public has been told about Boncuklu Tarla.
According to reference R1:
https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/ancient-site-older-than-gobeklitepe-unearthed-in-
turkey/1664156
a December 4, 2019 article, the site at Boncuklu Tarla (BT from now on) has been excavated since
2012, with on-going excavations as of the article’s writing. The major announcement proclaimed
by the article was that the site at BT is older by “1000 years” than Gobekli Tepe (GT from now
on). Moreover, and always according to this article, an archeologist involved as an ‘advisor’ to
the excavation claimed that BT is estimated (author’s emphasis) to be 12000 years old”, and
that there are buildings at BT that are “similar” to those at GT. He further added that there are
“buildings, temples, public areas” that are older than GT.
According to reference R2:
https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/archaeologists-unearth-ancient-settlement-in-se-
turkey/1638247
a November 7, 2019 article, the site at BT dates back 11,800 years ago. According to this article,
and according to the same archeologist, who was mentioned as an ‘advisor’ in the prior article,
but in this article, he is mentioned as ‘participating in the excavation’, the site at BT was
“inhabited for a long period around 9800 BC, and that there are eight-story historical buildings
reaching up to seven meters in height”. (Author’s note: That would average to about 87.5
centimeters in height for each story).
The same archeologist remarks that “on October 31, an ancient temple estimated (author’s
emphasis) to be over 11000 years old” was found at the same site, and that this temple “belongs
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almost to the same period as Gobekli Tepe”. (Author’s note: that finding apparently was made
a week before the R2 article’s publication date, November 7, 2019, and slightly over a month
before R1 article’s publication date, December 4, 2019). The temple mentioned in R2 is obviously
the temple shown in photo 1 (cover page) and in photo 2 (below).
According to reference R3:
https://www.archaeology.org/news/8171-191108-turkey-sewer-system
a November 8, 2019 article, citing the Anatolia Agency (a Turkish press agency) report and cited
as R2 above, says nothing about the temple, but instead reports on the sewer system at BT, and
makes reference to “buildings that reached 23 feet in height” (about seven meters).
According to reference R4:
https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-temple-found-in-mardin-148145
an October 31, 2019 article, from the electronic publication of the Hurriyet Daily News (see Note
1 on this outlet) the same scientific advisor mentioned in the previous references (R1 and R2) is
here quoted as saying: “Neolithic structure with rubble stones and hardened clay floors”
(apparently referring to the temple discussed earlier) has been found. He continues, “according
to analysis (author’s emphasis) the temple has four steles”. We think (author’s emphasis) that
it’s about 11300 years old”. The same individual is quoted also as saying that “the temple with
the stone wall was built with small stones and mortar”, and that they “haven’t reached the floor
of the building yet”. They were aiming at reaching the floor in about one month (author’s note:
that is by December 2019). The article concludes by noting that “houses with stiffened clay floors
dating in the period 10000 BC – 7000 BC were found” on the site.
That is the extent of what has been disseminated on an archeological dig (at BT) that commenced
in 2012 (about nine years ago). This archeological find is heralded by the Turkish press as the
“world’s oldest settlement” and that it has a temple that is contemporaneous to “GT temples”.
Moreover, the reports by these media proclaim (or, rather strongly attempt to re-affirm) their
conviction that GT is a 9300 BC site. This paper takes a closer look at these claims in view of the
(very limited) evidence available.
Boncuklu Tarla (BT)
In a span of about 34 days, from October 31, 2019 to December 4, 2019, we are told by press
releases two different dates as to how old this settlement is: from being a 9800 BC settlement
(according to the October 31, 2019 announcement), it became a 10000 BC site (in December
2019). So, this seven-year-old excavation as of 2019 had its dating revised upwards by two
centuries in a span of about one month by the archeologists involved in the excavation. How to
deal with such fuzziness and ambiguity when trying to date events from the Neolithic will be
discussed in this paper. On the name of BT, see Note 2 at the end of the paper.
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Unfortunately, and as shown in the Introduction, very little in concrete terms is known, at the
writing of this paper, about BT, although there have been extraordinary pronouncements by the
archeologists involved. Yet, any hard-core evidence (like for example: specific stratigraphic data,
measurements, detailed descriptions of the buildings’ architectonic components, floor and site
plans including cross-sections, and other scientific information, like carbon-14 dating and the
sources and locations of these samples, etc., regarding any and all of the unearthed, dozen or so,
structures) to substantiate any of the claims made about the dating of these structures, and
especially BT’s temple, is lacking.
The only statements made to substantiate the archeologists’ claims involved use of the terms:
“estimated”, “according to analysis”, and “the archeologist thinks”. See for example the quotes
provided and highlighted in the Introduction. However, such statements regarding evidence and
documentation of evidence are scientifically at least questionable. Especially when extraordinary
claims are made, regarding structures of the 10000 – 8000 period BC.
Photo 2. Another view of the temple at BT. Source of this photo, reference [B]:
https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=52534&all=1&noglimit=1
Also raising concerns are the cavalier statements made about GT, and the alleged connections
between GT and BT. Little is offered by the archeologists to justify either the connection between
BT and GT, except statements such as: “buildings in BT are similar to GT”, without pinpointing
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precisely where do these “similarities” begin and where do they end; or to identify what are
exactly these alleged “similarities”.
Most disconcerting (and most importantly from this author’s standpoint) is the fact that the
archeologists of BT, although they added little to any evidence about GT, or to the theory that
GT itself is a Pre-Pottery Neolithic A/B (10000 – 8000 BC) site, they brought GT into the discussion
about the BT site. They only seem to have assumed that GT is a PPNA/B site, and so axiomatically
they stated. The proverbial adage seems to apply here: “it is so because someone said so”.
By examining the BT temple from photos 1 and 2, and given the extremely limited (to non-
existent) architectural, engineering, construction detail, and building technology information on
this temple, including wall and floor measurements, and stelae (orthostats, pillars) details, this
author can offer only a very general and rough guidance to the reader of this paper regarding the
BT temple’s details. So next, some rudimentary comments and observations will be made about
the temple at BT, outlining features evident from two photos provided showing parts of it.
The following features seem to be of importance, nonetheless, in describing the Architecture of
this monument: the four orthostats (pillars) are not identical in form and structure; in fact, they
are all different. However, the two at left in photo 2 are thinner and wider and share more
common characteristics than the two at right, which seem also to share some common features,
as seen in the same photo. Hence, they must have intended to perform different functions. The
differences among all four seem to point to a rather primitive technique in processing boulders
to produce pillars out of them for building purposes, or to form monoliths (menhirs).
With regards to these two different types of pillars, one would be interested in knowing their in-
between distances and their relative sizes (width, length, height). The construction and dressing
techniques, used to form these two sets of orthostats (stelae), are apparently slightly different.
Further, the set at right contain two orthostats that are almost (although not exactly) of a
rectangular, close to a square, cross-sectional shape. Far more so than the pair at left in photo 2.
None of these orthostats contain any Art on them (according to the archeologists).
The relative orientation of the four orthostats, in their absolute as well as in their relative to each
other positions, seems to be of some interest. Orthostats’ shadows and their orientation towards
the major alignments (solar as well as lunar, and possibly related to some major celestial objects)
would had supplied information as to the likely religious functions, and ceremonial processes
associated with this temple. Unfortunately, none of that is contained in the press reports cited.
Also, the manner in which the orthostat at lower left in photo 2 seems to have been sheered off,
most likely was due to its own weight. The ensued failure resulting from some fault in the
orthostat’s structural composition is of interest. It could point to some primitiveness in the
building technology used by employing lithic carving on the stone. Or, alternatively, the
compromising of the stela’s structural integrity could have occurred during the quarrying or
processing of the stone. The dressing of the stones is also of interest, as the composition of the
plaster used is of paramount import.
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Finally, a careful look is worth taking into some of the capstones used at the temple’s wall, see
photo 1 (at the paper’s cover). At center lower right, a relatively large stone seems to be round,
cup-shaped at its top. The stone was possibly intended to hold some liquid substance for use
during the ceremonies taking place inside the temple; or to serve some cultural activity; or
possibly have some other purely utilitarian reason for being there, like for example to act as the
base of a column made out of timber, possibly part of a support system to provide cover for the
temple. No matter the intended reason, it is not randomly either shaped or placed there.
It would be of interest if the archeologists at BT were to reveal, given the evidence they have
uncovered, for how long was this settlement inhabited, before being abandoned; and what were
the likely reasons for its abandonment. Especially, in reference to any phases involved in the
construction of the temple, and its eventual destruction. Focusing on them, the possible
destruction and abandonment of a settlement, is as important as delving on its establishment
and its transitional phases.
Nevali Cori (NC)
Surprisingly, what is totally absent, and missing in any statement by any and all archeologists
involved in the news reports R1, R2, R3, R4, is any reference to a Temple that actually is, to some
limited extent, “similar” to that of BT, namely the Temple at Nevali Cory (NC), shown in Photo 3.
Instead of focusing on GT, in discussing BT, the archeologists should have concentrated on
addressing (or at least they could also have discussed) NC.
In references [1], [2], [3], [4], this author has analyzed in some detail the very interesting
Architecture of NC’s Temple. This analysis will not be repeated here. The interested reader is
directed to these four papers, especially references [2] and [3], for details. NC provides a strong
link between BT and GT. However, NC’s Temple Art, Architecture and Engineering are closer to
BT than GT in terms of morphology, but more distant in terms of architectonic Evolution. Some
statistical analysis of these temples’ features, in their similarities and dis-similarities, might reveal
more quantitative evidence regarding these morphological and temporal links.
It is now time to place NC in the spatial-temporal context that it apparently belongs, given the
temple at BT, as shown in the photos 1 and 2. The Temple phase of NC is among the last phases
in the NC settlement. This is an important feature, as this is apparently also the case with the
temple at BT, which (according to the archeologists of BT) is dated to be about five centuries into
the settlement at BT. The Temple at NC is definitely far more advanced in its Art, Architecture
and Engineering than that of BT. Notably, the surviving pillar at NC’s Temple carries Art on it.
Hence, it must be of a much later construction date than the temple at BT. The sophisticated
interior arrangements of the NC Temple, coupled with its shape, materials used, and size, as well
as the form and dressing of its central orthostat(s), although one of the stelae (pillars) is missing,
clearly demonstrate that NC and its Temple are subsequent structures to the corresponding BT
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settlement and its structures. How much is the temporal distance between BT and NC (both as
settlements and in their temples’ dating) will be left for the penultimate section of this paper to
address.
Settlements that contain different quality of Art, Architecture, Engineering, etc., are of course
possible to co-exist in time, at various locations. However, when different scales and significantly
more sophisticated Art work, Architecture and Engineering are involved, i.e., when Evolution in
construction and building technologies (and not simple differences) are observed, then a time
sequence must be sought after: from the simpler, more primitive and less developed (appearing
earlier) to the more complex and advanced (appearing later). This was the message of references
[1] - [4]. NC and BT (as well as GT) are representatives of such Evolution in Architecture. Things
become a bit more complicated because GT was not a settlement, whereas both BT and NC were.
Photo 3. Nevali Cori, the Temple. Source of photo: reference [B].
Gobekli Tepe (GT)
Gobekli Tepe (GT) has been the subject of this author’s four papers, see references [1], [2], [3],
and [4], as already mentioned. Again, little of what this author has stated in these four references
regarding GT needs to be restated here, or altered, except possibly its dating at the margins (from
a late 6th millennium BC, as argued earlier, to a date closer to the middle of the 6th millennium
BC). The reason for that slight and marginal adjustment will become clear when the proper (and
far more realistic) dating of BT will be discussed in a bit. See also Note 3 at the end of the paper.
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Much has been also written about the very sophisticated Art, Architecture and Engineering of
the various structures, and their orthostats and pillars, at GT. None of that will be repeated here
also. For a photo of the possibly most interesting (but not the oldest) of all GT structures, see
structure C in photo 4 below.
It is underscored (explained more in detail in references [1] – [4]) that GT was not the place where
innovation in building technologies and construction techniques could have started, and then
diffused in space-time. Because GT was not a settlement. GT was the recipient of innovation from
settlements surrounding it, over a widespread spatial landscape, possibly the entire Upper
Mesopotamia and Levant at the time of construction of its structure D. If this is a valid theoretical
proposition, then, one must come across of such elements in Art, Architecture and Engineering,
as those encountered in structures C and D at GT at an advanced and refined state, first having
appeared but in a much less developed state in prior time periods, and at surrounding locations
before GT appeared. That is precisely what NC and BT offer. The two settlements (NC and BT)
supply ample evidence of prior to GT Art, Architecture and Engineering, at a more primitive scale
and sophistication, than that reached later in time, with a crescendo and peak we observe at GT.
That having been documented, attention now switches to the main objective of this paper, the
preliminary establishment of a rough chronology associated with the temples of BT, NC, and GT,
and the approximate dating of these three sites and their settlements (in the case of NC and BT).
Photo 4. Gobekli Tepe, layer III, structure C. Source of photo: reference [C].
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Why is Boncuklu Tarla an earlier site than both Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe
In the press announcements provided in the Introduction, indeed a key attribute of the BT
settlement was stated by the archeologists involved: that the BT temple is about half of a
millennium younger than the settlement itself. This is an attribute, the phasing in construction
aspect of a settlement, that we also come across with both the NC settlement and NC’s Temple.
The time lag is of importance in both cases: about five centuries. This time delay is of extreme
interest in the dating not only of the BT, but also of the NC and GT sites.
Also of extreme interest is the Geography of the settlement at BT. From the source in reference
[B], we find that the distance between BT and NC is 282.4 kilometers, with BT located East of NC;
and the distance between BT and GT is about 259.4 kilometers, with BT located East of GT. In the
four papers, references [1] [4], the Geography of both NC and GT was extensively discussed;
their respective distance was set at about 25 kilometers (NC located North of GT). The exact
coordinates of the BT settlement are given in reference [B], and they are listed as: latitude
37.5294 N, and longitude 41.8325 E. Relative spatial proximity implies also temporal relative
proximity in a diffusion process, something that will be used later in dating these three sites.
Both NC and BT were riverine communities, while GT was set on a hill, and relatively at a distance
from any river in that region of Anatolia, now and back then. This geographical feature is also
very important in the dating of all three sites (BT, NC, and GT). By its relatively central location in
the region of South-Eastern/Central Anatolia, and in reference to the centrality of the GT site in
the Upper Mesopotamian setting and more broadly in the Levant, it must be concluded that GT
was a major center of pilgrimage (it was not a settlement) for a much larger area than either NC
or BT. From a Geography viewpoint and dynamical Central Place Theory, it must be concluded
that GT was formed later than both settlements in NC and BT (and a number of other settlements,
as discussed in references [1] – [4] by this author).
Hence, and in view of the above Geography, Architecture, and Engineering related arguments, it
is concluded that BT is a much earlier settlement than NC, which is an earlier settlement than GT.
Thus, a fortiori, BT is a much earlier settlement than GT, and the temple of BT is quite earlier than
those Temples found in structures C and D at GT. Even a casual look into the elaborate
Architecture of GT’s structure C, layer III, photo 4, and by comparing it to the relatively primitive
Architecture of the temple at BT, from photos 1, and 2, leaves no doubt about that conclusion,
even to someone who is not an architect by training. The two are not of the same time period.
Finally, in so far as BT is concerned, the reference to building layers found in seven meters height
span (according to the archeologists’ statements), and by correctly interpreting their reference
to “eight-story buildings” (see references R2 and R3 in the Introduction), one must conclude that
some phases in construction involving layering was involved. Although this is encountered in
masonry construction at BT, layered mudbrick construction (involving generational overlapping)
is also encountered in the Catal-Hoyuk settlement of Southern Anatolia (an 8th millennium BC
site, see reference [6]). This settlement was also discussed in references [1] – [4] by this author.
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Dating the three sites
In this section, a rough outline towards a dating scheme is drawn for all three sites, BT, NC, and
GT (in which, reference will be made to the Catal-Hoyuk site as well). An important set of time
markers is found in the three sites’ temples. These temples supply solid evidence to roughly (and
on a preliminary basis) date the sites not only in relative but also in absolute terms. It should be
kept in mind that in reference to any archeological site four fuzzy temporal borderlines exist: the
fuzzy spatial-temporal establishment of the settlement, and its fuzzy abandonment; and then the
fuzzy construction date of its temple, and the fuzzy date of its destruction (or neglect). In this
section, and in a bit, a method drawing from the field in Modern Metrology, see reference [5] on
this subject, will be used to place fuzzy and approximate dates on events of the ancient past.
Primitive and advanced design, involving form (in terms of Art and Architecture) and structure
(in terms of Architecture and Engineering), associated with the scale, floor plan, walls, and
orthostats or pillars (and their artistic decorations, or lack thereof) in the temples of these three
sites leave little doubt as to their relative dating: BT is older than NC, and NC is older than GT. In
addition, the Geography of these sites point to a dynamical Central Place Theory context, in
which the larger center (GT), and site of pilgrimage, is formed later and at a grander scale than
the peripheral ones (both NC and BT, along with numerous others), although NC to a lesser extent
than BT, due to NC’s (higher spatial) proximity to GT relative to BT’s proximity to both.
Photo 5. Boncuklu Tarla archeological site. Source of photo: reference R1
https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/ancient-site-older-than-gobeklitepe-unearthed-in-
turkey/1664156
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Thus, the relative dating of the three sites is obtained. Now, one must seek their absolute
(approximate nonetheless and rough) dating. For that, either the older is set (offering an upper
bound on dates, i.e., a ceiling) and then the younger ones follow; or the youngest setting’s dating
is set (by offering a lower bound on dates, i.e., a floor). Ideally, enough data exist so that both
bounds can be approximately set, but simultaneously. And this is to an extent the case here.
The Younger Dryas offer a ceiling on dating: these settlements and sites can’t be older than the
9th millennium, when the climate impact eased in that region of Eurasia, see references [1] – [4].
Moreover, the Architecture of that Region (the Levant) is well known during the latter part of the
Younger Dryas: it was the Natufian type, a type which incidentally is encountered at some earlier
structures (and in some relatively advanced angular form) in the BT setting, according to the
remnants of the masonry construction shown in (still partially buried in the ground) photo 5.
Thus, the earliest possible date for initial masonry structures at BT is the late Natufian, possibly
the late 8th millennium BC time frame. The time lag in building the temple at BT is thus pegged
to the early 7th millennium BC.
The GT’s temples’ time frame is the 6th millennium BC, set by the analysis in references [1] – [4].
In these references, the late 6th millennium BC date was suggested. This date may have to be
pushed back a little into the middle 6th millennium BC time frame. The reason being that the pull
factors from the NC dating (in view of the factors emanating from the BT dating) may alter the
duration of the relevant time lags involved in the construction of the temples in these three sites.
In considering the time lags: let BT* stand for the approximate expected value from a bell-shaped
normal distribution, with one (or two) standard deviation(s) representing one or two centuries,
see reference [5] for the general method, from the date of BT temple’s start of construction; and
let the NC* represent the equivalent ones for the Temple at NC; and GT* stand for the same
variables associated with dating the construction of the earliest of the Temples, structure D, at
the GT site. Then, one can derive the differences: (BT* – NC* = d1) and (NC* – GT* = d2). These
differences, due to all reasons cited in this paper along with the references [1] – [4], satisfy the
condition: d1 > d2. Using different scenarios, one can derive graphs similar to that found in Figure
1 of ref. [5], reproduced in Note 4 (end of paper), which addresses the topic of systematic errors.
Hence, we come to the conclusion that the NC dating of its Temple must be very likely close to
the late 7th millennium BC, for a difference d1 of about one millennium. And that the d2
difference must be about five to seven centuries, resulting in dating of GT close to the middle 6th
millennium BC. It is suggested that, so far back into the Neolithic, i.e., the 6th and 7th millennium
BC, approximations due to uncertainties (ambiguities and fuzzy measurements) must have a
range between two to three centuries. In this framework, one can understand the differences in
dating, expressed by the archeologists and recorded in their statement, at the Introduction of
this paper. Within this framework, one can also accept the suggestions offered above on the
approximations regarding the dating of all three temples at BT, NC, and GT (structure D).
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The Catal-Hoyuk settlement, which lasted from approximately fifteen centuries (from circa 7100
BC to about 5700 BC, see reference [6]), must have been, to some extent, contemporaneous in
its middle phases to the early phases of the BT settlement. The reason for bringing the Catal-
Hoyuk site into this discussion is the form of settlement construction, physically overlapping
residential and public structures. This form of residential recycling is argued on the basis of the
“overlapping” masonry structures that appear in BT, alluded to in references R2 and R3. However,
this is just a supposition, in need of much better documentation than what is available to the
general public (as of the writing of this paper) regarding the overlapping of structures in BT. What
is of import however, is that in an Engineering sense, BT was apparently far more advanced in
technological knowhow than Catal-Hoyuk, since masonry (and not mudbrick) construction was
involved. This is another factor putting an upper bound on the dating of BT. Moreover, all
references that mention BT here are in need of much more evidence to fully support, than the
information available to the public to date. The archeological team in charge of the dig at BT
should have been more forthcoming with concrete evidence. Nine and one-half years (May 2021)
past the start of the archeological excavation (in 2012) at BT is a reasonable enough time for
analysts, and the public, to have such expectations.
Conclusions
In this brief paper, some rudimentary evidence regarding the archeological site referred to as
“Boncuklu Tarla” (BT) in the Mardin District of South-Eastern Anatolia, in Asia Minor (part of
current day Turkey) was analyzed and reviewed. The claims made by the archeological team at
BT in reference to the archeological site at Gobekli Tepe (GT) were addressed and evaluated. It
was noted that references to another archeological site, that of Nevali Cori (NC), that should have
been made by the archeologists in charge of the excavation at BT, were absent. It was
documented, that GT, being a point of pilgrimage and not a settlement, was the sink and not the
source of Artistic, Architectural, Engineering innovations, which migrated to GT from other
surrounding settlements (like NC and BT) in a rudimentary form, and were then and at a later
date further advanced at GT. Further, the paper (in conjunction with references [1] – [4])
documented that Evolutionary changes are involved in the Art, Architecture, and Engineering
aspects of the three sites. Hence, these sites belong to three different Neolithic time periods.
The paper, by using the modicum of visual, architectonic, and geographic evidence available on
BT, and by employing a statistical method from Modern Metrology, produced a time-related
sequence in the construction of the temples at BT, NC and GT based on the Art and Architecture
of BT. In so doing, a marginal adjustment to the author’s dating of the GT site was produced.
Overall, it is suggested (based on the limited evidence supplied by the archeological team
responsible for the dig at BT) that the BT settlement, and especially its temple, is a significant
time marker for Anatolian Neolithic Archeology, and for Archeology of the Levant, in general.
However, more scientific evidence and documentation (beyond the unsubstantiated and to some
extent confusing opinions offered thus far by the archeologists of BT) are eagerly anticipated.
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References
Reference R1: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/ancient-site-older-than-gobeklitepe-
unearthed-in-turkey/1664156
Reference R2: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/culture/archaeologists-unearth-ancient-settlement-
in-se-turkey/1638247
Reference R3: https://www.archaeology.org/news/8171-191108-turkey-sewer-system
Reference R4: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-temple-found-in-mardin-148145
Ref. [1]: (1) (PDF) Dating Gobekli Tepe | Dimitrios S Dendrinos - Academia.edu
Ref. [2]: (PDF) Gobekli Tepe: a 6 th millennium BC monument | Dimitrios S Dendrinos - Academia.edu
Ref. [3]: (PDF) A Primer on Gobekli Tepe | Dimitrios S Dendrinos - Academia.edu
Ref. [4]: (PDF) Gobekli Tepe, Tell Qaramel, Tell Es-Sultan: Why is Gobekli Tepe a 6 th millennium BC site,
and Evolution of Early Neolithic Architecture | Dimitrios S Dendrinos - Academia.edu
Ref. [5]: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10877-020-00494-y
Ref. [6]: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/prehistoric-art/neolithicart/neolithic-
sites/a/atalhyk
Reference [A]: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ancient-temple-found-in-mardin-148145
Reference [B]: https://www.tf.uni-kiel.de/matwis/amat/iss/kap_a/advanced/ta_1_2g.html
Reference [C]: http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/gobekli-tepe-geometry-08424.html
Notes
Note 1. The R4 source of the information on the site Boncuklu Tarla is a newspaper article that
appeared on October 31, 2019 in the Turkish “Hurriyet Daily News” (electronic version): Ancient
temple found in Mardin (hurriyetdailynews.com)
For more information on this Turkish news outlet, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCrriyet_Daily_News
Note 2. The name “Boncuklu Tarla” apparently came from the thousands of beads found at the
site during the excavation, and it means “beady field”. It bears of course little to the (unknown)
toponym given to the site by the original builders of the settlement. In that predicament, an
archeological Neolithic site currently holding a name that has little or nothing to do with the
15
original site’s toponym, this site is not alone. Other important Neolithic sites throughout Europe
also suffer from the same ill. Archeological sites should be assigned scientific designations,
minimizing the cultural entrenchment imposed on them by such contemporary names, assigned
to them by cultures that had little to do with these monuments’ construction.
Note 3. This author waited about a year and a half to see if any concrete documentation would
emerge, and be provided by the archeological team excavating BT, after the 2019 public
announcements, before writing about the claims made regarding the extent to which this site is
related to GT. There is little doubt that the unearthing of GT has ignited the human imagination
and given rise to many theories about it and the Neolithic. Fantastic claims have been made, and
much has been said and written over the past quarter century regarding GT. That hoopla was
fueled by what the original excavator of GT, Klaus Schmidt, said and claimed about it. A Google
search on GT produces at present more than 2.6 million entries.
These claims have (unintentionally one must presume) fueled, in the public, various thoughts and
theories (many of them preposterous). One can discern a demand among the archeological
(scientific and non-scientific) community that the established archeological dating of the entire
Neolithic must be significantly revised. A peculiar admixture of scientific and non-scientific groups
has used these claims to further their own causes. The general public has more or less adopted
the claim that GT is a PPNA/B site, a position also prevalent among establishment archeologists.
This movement has created a tendency towards accepting an inflation in dating of events and
sites of the Neolithic. Archaeo-astronomy has, to an extent, participated in and contributed to
this quarter-century long date inflation movement, by entertaining the idea that in the Neolithic
peoples enjoyed a much more advanced scientific (astronomical and mathematical) knowledge
than for what we usually give them credit. Revising dates (up or downwardly) is normal, and to a
large degree expected in Archeology, as new evidence emerges in space-time; new methods
become available; new tools and instruments are used to examine old and new evidence; new
viewpoints on various topics are formed; new and broader perspectives take shape about an
archeological era, etc. Hence, marginal revisions of older archeological theories are needed, they
become inevitable, and ultimately, they must be anticipated. To claim however that suddenly
significant revisions, involving a fundamental restructuring of Archeology, must be carried out;
and that a basic (more than three millennia of date inflation and possibly more) reconstruction
of Neolithic dating (as is the case with the claims linked to the GT archeological site) is called for,
goes far beyond Science. It is largely illusionary.
Note 4. In the utilization of the normal distribution (a bell-shaped symmetrical curve) from
Probability Theory employed in Modern Metrology, see ref. [5], one assumes that multiple
measurements can be obtained from an observable. Moreover, and most critical, these
measurements may be on their average different than the true value of an observable, see the
diagram below (Figure 1 from ref. [5]), where is the estimated average, and is the standard
deviation of the measurements.
16
In Archeology such multiple measurements can be obtained not only from alternative theories,
emanating from different analysts, about an ancient event’s (or structure’s) chronology, but also
by deriving dating of different elements found in situ. For example, the use of carbon-14 dating
obtained from different samples; or the derivation of different dating by examining the Art,
Architecture and Engineering of a structure. Rarely all these sources of information about a site
coincide exactly. Often, they show differences and at times these differences might be significant.
Hence, multiple approximate measurements can be obtained or derived for and from the same
site, by the same or different sources. These different measurements (or estimates) can, in turn,
be used to derive an approximate bell-shaped curve (normal distribution) and various standard
deviations on the site or structure’s chronology. Different perspectives and dating of events and
structures in Archeology, when reasoned and documented, must be accepted and not rejected
off hand. What the diagram below shows is not only that such averaging might be different from
the true value of the observable, but that systematic errors could be part of measurements too.
The diagram is Figure 1 from reference [5]:
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10877-020-00494-y
17
Copyright statement
by Dimitrios S. Dendrinos.
All parts of this paper {with the exception of the five photos shown, which are part of the public
domain and carry their own references, and the diagram of p. 16 (which is Figure 1 in reference
[5])} are copyrighted by the author of this paper, who is solely responsible for its contents. No
part (or the paper as a whole) can be reproduced in any form (electronic or otherwise) without
the explicit and written consent of the author, Dimitrios S. Dendrinos.
Article
Full-text available
The paper reviews and evaluates the published evidence produced by the archeologists of Boncuklu Tarla regarding the dating of the site. It also addresses a number of issues associated with carbon-14 dating of Neolithic sites’ structures, including Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori in addition to Boncuklu Tarla. Furthermore, the paper recommends a rigorous, streamlined, and transparent set of procedures to be established before an archeological team proposes dates (and especially carbon-14 based dates) on the structures of Neolithic monuments and their sites.
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