A couple of weeks ago, in June, we thanked you, the esteemed readers of this blog, for your ongoing interest in the German Archaeological Institute’s Göbekli Tepe research project as it is impressively visible by the visitor numbers of this blog. Thanks again once more! Yet we also used the opportunity to offer a kind of questionnaire via twitter, giving you the chance to adress your questions regarding the excavations at early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe.
Since we consider this little experiement in ‘science communication’ a success, we are not only discussing and planning to repeat something similar in the not too distant future, but also would like to share the outcome of this first Q&A here. Maybe you’ll find some of the answers and discussions which emerged from this question time of interest; some of the links provided are certainly worth a look. Thanks a lot to everyone participating.
First of all we started of with some more general remarks, intoducing ourselves as moderators of this Q&A and the site of Göbekli Tepe itsels as well as the state of research so far.
Site & Monuments
Many of the questions coming up early in the discussion were in particular directed at the nature of the archaeological site itself and the monuments unearthed there.
Excavations and field research
Also, excavation methods applied at Göbekli Tepe and aspects of field research took an interest in the course of the session.
Question for applied methods of course also included analyses and research undertaken at desk and lab.
One of the most important features of the Göbekli Tepe monuments is their complex iconography – which naturally also generated much interest during among questioners.
Next to obtaining material sources by excavation, one of the most important parts of archaeological research is to interpret the finds and features unearthed and collected. So this was another topic of many questions.
To properly understand how prehistoric people interacted with the world around them, it is of course inevitable to also have a look at this world they are living in, at environment and climate. Another point which also was picked up by some of the questions.
These PPN hunters certainly were not acting in a social vacuum, so questions to the cultural background of the Göbekli Tepe monuments and their builders are only logical.
Links & connections to other sites
Comparisons with other monuments or thoughts about a possible connection to such are quite often put forward then discussing Göbekli Tepe (in fact, we had a whole blog post dedicated to this topic just recently).
Some questions were interested in future work at the site and pending research results.
Thanks, and goodbye
With some closing remarks we finally had to bring this most interesting hour to an end, definitely overhelmed by the number of participants and questions and really glad to see so much interest in the work of the Göbekli Tepe research project. Thanks a lot!
Since the great and very encouraging feedback this Q&A received and the interesting discussions it triggered, we can only thank everyone who participated again and repeat what’s already mirrored in this last tweet above: That we definitely repeat this in due time. So, have your questions ready – see you then.
Hi guys, I really like what you are doing here on this page and via your Twitter accounts, and I have another question, more of a comment really. I know I was supposed to wait until the next AskGT Q&A, but here we go.
Your list of publications about GT shows what I think is the reason why so much of the public discourse about GT is in the hands of crackpot so-called scientists:
There is a lot of scientific material about GT out there, but your most recent popular publication about GT is from 2006 and there is only one! Whilst Klaus Schmidt’s book is a great one, surely there is lot of exciting new material (including stunning images seen regularly on this blog) that has been generated in the last 11(!) years to fill an amazing coffee table book that could finally put GT on the map with popular science fans. I know you are all serious archaeologists and you probably balk at the idea of popular science writing, but it has been shown that it can be done well.
This would be the way to finally wrest the discourse back from the Hancocks and Ancient Aliens of the world. They flourish in the vacuum of proper researched publications. And it could present GT to a wider audience.
I would buy a book like that.
PS: Sorry for double posting, don’t know what happened to my first version of this reply
thanks a lot for your comment and kind compliments. You are certainly right that there are more scientific publications on our work than popular ones. The main reason for this is that we are a scientific research project and thus it is our main job to properly document and publish the results of our work according these standards. However, we try to find a balance and do publish in more popular media (just check for instance our publication list for the articles in “Current World Archaeology”, “Actual Archaeology” etc.), and we are happily cooperating with many journalists writing for the broader public (e.g. National Geographic, New Scientist, New Yorker Magazine etc.). The same could be said for other media like documentary movies which we usually also support with data, interviews and so on. Well, and last but not least I’d like to think with this weblog we also created something of certain value addressing a public audience we usually would not reach with the average research reports published in the more specialist journals and monographs. You see, we’re anything but lazy in these regards, but writing a whole book asks for many things – first and of all time of course, time we’re currently investing into research to be honest.