An interesting new paper (PDF) on Arxiv.org from astrophysicist and archaeoastronomer Giulio Magli on possible star alignments to be found at the Turkish megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe, which is thought to be a (mind-shattering) 12,000 years old:
The megalithic enclosures of Göbekli Tepe (Urfa, Turkey) are the most ancient stone sacred structures known so far, dating back to the 10th millennium BC. The possible presence of astronomical targets for these structures is analysed, and it turns out that they may have been oriented – or even originally constructed – to “celebrate” and successively follow the appearance of a “new”, extremely brilliant star in the southern skies: Sirius.
…Simulating the sky in the 10th millennium BC, it is possible to see that a quite spectacular phenomenon occurred at Göbekli Tepe in that period: the “birth” of a “new” star, and certainly not of an ordinary one, as it is the brightest star of the sky and the 4th most brilliant object: Sirius. Indeed precession, at the latitude of Göbekli Tepe, had brought Sirius completely under the horizon since the years around 15000 BC. After reaching the minimum, Sirius started to come closer the horizon and it became visible again, as a very low light close to due south, towards 9300 BC.
…I am thus proposing here the possibility that the structures of Göbekli Tepe were constructed to celebrate, and then follow in the course of the centuries, the appearance of a brilliant “guest” star in the sky: Sirius. Of course, although being fascinating, the hypothesis but must be taken with due caution; for instance, the relative chronology between the structures is unclear. Getting more insight in the symbolic world of the builders would certainly be of help; many of the animals are tempting as representation of constellations, and – curiously enough – one of the most elaborated stelae present an upper register with three “bags” which are pretty similar to the three “houses of the sky” occurring in the much (very much!) later Babylonian “kudurru” traditions.
I think the “taken with due caution” part should be emphasised – at this stage this really is a case of putting forward some suggestions for possible alignments, with chronologies (an essential element of historical star alignment) still fuzzy. When Magli says this paper is “a preliminary analysis of possible astronomical references”, he’s not kidding. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to see this fascinating topic being investigated.
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