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Gobekli pictograph

20 July 2015

At http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/worlds-oldest-picto… … at Gobekli Tepe, the iconic site with the T shaped uprights in the highlands overlooking the North Syrian plain, a scene on one of those uprights is reputed to be the world's oldest pictograph. This is because it depicts an event thematically, a human head in the wing of a vulture and a headless body beneath. There are other beasties around these two characters, such as cranes and scorpions. Is it a portrayal of a moment in time – a scene captured by the human eye of the artist? The argument is that these are not random figures (symbolic representations) and the pictograph is a portrayal of a contemporary funerary rite involving leaving a dead human body out to have its bones picked clean by vultures. Why the head is dismembered is not so clear – or why the body is at the foot of the picture (if it is a picture rather than a compilation of different elements on a single piece of stone).

As birds are involved the inference, according to the pictograph interpretation, is that the soul of the corpse entered the sky (with the vulture) and is transported into heaven (or its equivalent). In the UK Red Kites will quickly devour the flesh from a dead rabbit or cat if left out in the open and in Celtic myth ravens and crows were closely associated with the battlefield (and mythical battles of the gods) – picking at the dead bodies.

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