Robert M. Schoch: Research Highlights
Writing at Göbekli Tepe

God and the Sun: The Writing at Göbekli Tepe

By Robert M. Schoch, with Catherine Ulissey

Road signs pointing to Şanlıurfa and Göbekli Tepe.
Road signs pointing to Şanlıurfa and Göbekli Tepe. (Photo: R. Schoch and C. Ulissey.)

Posted 6 April 2020

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Traditional historians and archaeologists have often pointed to three major distinguishing characteristics by which one can identify true civilization: 1) Monumental stone architecture, 2) Settled urban (city) life, and 3) Writing. Prehistoric is often equated with a society being pre-literate; if they do not have any written inscriptions or records, then they do not have a true recorded history and are both pre-historic and pre-civilized.

Furthermore, according to conventional status quo thinking, writing was first invented just prior to around 3000 BCE in Sumer and Egypt; therefore, we can date the onset of true civilization to this time. However, over 6000 years earlier in Northern Mesopotamia we find the incredibly sophisticated site of Göbekli Tepe. Many mainstream historians are hesitant to apply the label of true civilization to the builders of Göbekli Tepe, but why?

Göbekli Tepe is characterized by beautifully carved monumental stone architecture; in particular, T-shaped pillars set in circles or rings (see the banner image above for an overview). To create such structures, we can hypothesize that some form of urban population must have existed in the area, but so far it has not been found. I would point out, however, that the structures the people lived in may not have been stone; rather, they could have been constructed of wood, mudbrick, or other perishable materials. In analogy, the cities that accompanied the pyramids, temples, and other monumental stone structures of dynastic Egypt thousands of years later have left few traces. Or perhaps the city of the Göbekli Tepe people still exists and is now referred to as the city of Urfa (Şanlıurfa), but it is covered over by 12,000 years of more recent habitation. The site of Göbekli Tepe is not far from modern Urfa, and during road work and other construction projects in Urfa, very ancient archaeological remains are often found, including remains going back to Göbekli Tepe times.

Overview image of Pillar 28 at Göbekli Tepe
Overview image of Pillar 28 at Göbekli Tepe. (Photograph copyright R. Schoch and C. Ulissey.)

Despite monumental architecture and possible urban settlements, the best argument, for those researchers who would deny the title of true civilization to the creators of Göbekli Tepe, is (or was) that they apparently did not have any form of writing. However, the latest evidence has completely changed this notion and demands that even the skeptics must rethink the when and where of the origins of civilization.

Ever since I first visited and studied the site of Göbekli Tepe during the summer of 2010, I have speculated that its builders had some form of written notation and communication, if for no other reason than the practicality and feasibility of planning, organizing the labor and crafts specialists, and ultimately constructing such wondrous stone monuments. But the few apparent symbols carved on the stone pillars, in isolation, offer little solid evidence for true writing and literacy. Admittedly, the majority of writing by the Göbekli Tepe people might well have been on perishable materials that have not survived 12,000 years; however, the absence of such physical evidence was pointed to by the skeptics as evidence that writing did not exist (even though this was faulty logic on their part). Now, through the insight of my colleague, Dr. Manu Seyfzadeh, we do have a potential context and comparison for the symbolic notation found at Göbekli Tepe. As Dr. Seyfzadeh noted, some of the symbols at Göbekli Tepe are remarkably similar to the Anatolian Hieroglyphs (also referred to as Luwian and/or Hittite Hieroglyphs) used in the same general region (modern Turkey) millennia later. Is this purely coincidental? We think not. Indeed, we published a technical paper pointing out some major similarities between the Anatolian Hieroglyphs and the symbols carved on some of the Göbekli Tepe pillars (Manu Seyfzadeh and Robert Schoch, Archaeological Discovery, February 2019, volume 7, pages 31-53).

Although there has been much work since, the Anatolian Hieroglyphs were intensely studied and documented by the linguist Emmanuel Laroche (1914–1991) in his classic book titled Les Hiéroglyphes Hittites (1960). Laroche assigned numbers to the various Anatolian hieroglyphs, and attempted translations and interpretations; here I refer to various Anatolian Hieroglyphs by these Laroche Numbers (=LN).

The Anatolian Hieroglyphic inscriptions generally date to the second and early first millennia BCE (with many from the period of circa 1300–900 BCE). This is 8000 years or more after the construction of Göbekli Tepe, yet there are remarkable correlations suggesting that at least fragments of a writing system used by the Göbekli Tepe people survived and were incorporated into the system of Anatolian Hieroglyphs, in some cases with various modifications – which is quite understandable, and even expected, over such a vast length of time.

Three different views of Pillar 18 at Göbekli Tepe
Three views of Pillar 18 at Göbekli Tepe. Left: Detail of the belt. Center: Close-up of the front neck region. Right: Overview image of the entire pillar, which stands approximately 4–4.5 meters high and weighs approximately 10–15 tons. (Photographs copyright R. Schoch and C. Ulissey.)

The first and perhaps most important comparison between the Anatolian Hieroglyphs and the writing at Göbekli Tepe involves LN 360 and symbols found prominently on the belt of one of the largest and most magnificent pillars at Göbekli Tepe, that known as Pillar 18. LN 360 consists of a crescent or C shape open to the right, followed (left to right) by two vertical parallel lines followed by a reversed C or crescent open to the left. The prominent inscription on the belt of Pillar 18 includes a C shape followed by an H shape followed by a reversed C shape. On the front edge of Pillar 28 at Göbekli Tepe the same three symbols, the same word, is carved vertically. LN 360 can be translated as god and we (Dr. Seyfzadeh and I) hypothesize that the C, H, reversed C at Göbekli Tepe is likewise a word meaning god. Even before this suggested translation, there was speculation that the anthropomorphic pillars (some of the pillars have arms, hands, belts, and loincloths) were meant to represent gods or a god.

Image of Anatolian Hieroglyph Laroche Numbers 360, 411, and 184
Anatolian Hieroglyph Laroche Numbers 360, 411, and 184.

A slight discrepancy between LN 360 and C, H, reversed C at Göbekli Tepe is that in LN 360 the middle character consists of two parallel vertical lines rather than an H shape. The H, with either one or two cross-bars (and both forms, interestingly, appear at Göbekli Tepe), appears in Laroche’s catalog as Number 239. In Anatolian Hieroglyphs an H shape may have had the meaning of a gate, portal, or passageway. This concept of a gate or passage was possibly associated with a god or with gods, because gods could control the passage from one realm to another, and in particular control the passage from life to death and life again, in the case of a belief in rebirth. And gods would mediate between the earthly and heavenly realms, between the material and spiritual realms. Thus, the symbol for a gate, portal, or passage, may have been a simplified emblem referring to gods or spiritual beings, and H shapes are found multiple times on a number of pillars at Göbekli Tepe. In Anatolian Hieroglyphs, the horizontal cross-bar of the H appears to have been omitted when used in the word or hieroglyph meaning god.

Further supporting the association of the H symbol with god at Göbekli Tepe, and also strengthening the link between the Göbekli Tepe writing and the Anatolian Hieroglyphs, on the top front of Pillar 18 is another set of symbols consisting, from top to bottom, of an H (which in this case has two horizontal cross-bars), a circle with a dot in the center, and a crescent which is open to the top. The circle with center dot and crescent combination occurs as LN184 and is considered a symbol of the divine. This may represent the Sun and the Moon, and more generally the cosmos or heavenly realm. Alternatively, one might suggest that the circle with a dot in the center represents all of Earth; if you stand in one spot and rotate through 360 degrees (a full circle) the horizon will appear as a circle around the place you are standing. Or, the circle with a central dot may represent our Sun, as is the case with current astrological symbols. (Please see the Addendum at the end of this article for more on the symbol for the Sun, a circle with a dot in the middle.) Either way, I hypothesize that LN184 combined with the H at Göbekli Tepe is stating that the god in question rules the cosmos, both Heaven and Earth. Furthermore, the H with LN 184 could symbolize the gate or portal between the mundane and the divine, the material and the spiritual, the terrestrial and the celestial.

Image of Anatolian Hieroglyph Laroche Number 239
Anatolian Hieroglyph Laroche Number 239.

Returning to the writing on the belt of Pillar 18 at Göbekli Tepe, the full inscription on one side is actually C, C, H, C, H, reversed C (and the first two Cs are slightly different from each other, as are the Hs, but whether these differences are significant or not remains an open question). The isolated C shape, or crescent open to the right, is comparable to LN 411, which is interpreted as having a connection to dieu (god). Personally I speculate that this full inscription may signify god of gods (and was read right to left in this case). This raises the issue of whether the Göbekli Tepe people believed in a supreme god presiding over lesser deities. Were they monotheistic at some level?

An immediate question that I have to ask myself is why symbolize a god, or the supreme God, as a C, H, reversed C? And why place God in the sky? (Nowadays many people simply take it for granted that God, or gods, are located above, in the heavens – and Heaven has an explicitly religious connotation, but this was not always necessarily the case.) I believe the answer, and the second message of the LN 360 symbol, lies in plasma physics.

As I have described in my 2012 book, Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future (a 2nd edition of this book, revised and expanded, was released in March 2021 with the subtitle, New Discoveries on the Solar-Induced Dark Age) in circa 9700 BCE our Sun exploded with a mighty outburst or series of outbursts (some people now use the terms mini-nova or micro-nova for these types of stellar and solar phenomena), bringing the last ice age to a dramatic close as global climates warmed suddenly and precipitously. Furthermore, I now hypothesize (in the revised edition of Forgotten Civilization) that, based on the evidence, it was a solar outburst that initiated the Younger Dryas, circa 10,900 BCE, melting ice dams and glaciers, causing a massive glacial flood that changed ocean circulation patterns in the Atlantic, thus initiating the Younger Dryas cooling.

Ice and sediment core data record solar outburst events, as does data from our Moon; however, another interesting line of evidence of our Sun dramatically affecting life on this planet comes from the preeminent plasma physicist Dr. Anthony Peratt at Los Alamos National Laboratory (see the illustration immediately below, and also discussion and references in Forgotten Civilization). In short, Dr. Peratt, aside from studying the Sun (and more) for the U.S. government, made the astounding discovery that some ancient petroglyphs, by their diagnostic features, indicate ancient people the world over witnessed a massive solar event (the charged particles interacting with our atmosphere, as we see today in the Northern and Southern lights, only so much more intense that the auroras took on distinctive shapes) and recorded the shapes they saw in the sky on rock. His published papers offer examples from over 130 countries. A few of the shapes he describes are stick-figured men with bird heads, stick-figured men with two dots on their sides (the dots indicating synchrotron radiation), owl-like faces, cascading cylindrical shapes, and more. I believe it is a reasonable hypothesis to suggest that the people living during those times reasoned that such events were the acts of gods (or a God). The H shape and the C, H, reversed C together are in fact simplified representations of what people saw in the sky during the solar outbursts. Pillar 18 and its associated pillars at Gobekli Tepe date, in my assessment, to the period just before the end of the last ice age (circa 9700 BCE), but the Göbekli Tepe people retained a collective memory of previous solar outburst events – as shown on the pillars.

Comparison of Australian petroglyphs to plasma configurations
Painted motifs on a rock outcropping from the Kimberly region, Western Australia, compared to plasma configurations that would have been seen in the ancient skies during a major solar outburst (upper left and lower right insets, including a photo of the plasma physicist Dr. Anthony Peratt, who has pioneered this line of research), and the C, H, reversed C on Pillar 18 of Göbekli Tepe. Various rock art from the Kimberly region has been dated to approximately 12,000 years ago, corresponding to the end of the last ice age (D. Finch et al., 12,000-Year-old Aboriginal rock art from the Kimberley region, Western Australia, 5 February 2020, Science Advances, AAAS, 9 pages). (Image of Australia rock art from a screen capture of a video posting, courtesy of Ben Davidson of Suspicious0bservers [; see also the photograph posted on]; plasma discharge conceptual images and image of Dr. Peratt, courtesy of Dr. Anthony Peratt; image from Göbekli Tepe, courtesy of and copyright by Robert Schoch and Catherine Ulissey.)

Thus this series of symbols, this word (C, H, reversed C) not only names God, but equates God with the Sun and/or solar activity. Furthermore, the Sun was from the point of view of these ancient people acting as a conscious entity, which I believe is not far off of the mark. Indeed, a strong argument can be made that the Sun and stars are indeed conscious at some level and consciousness pervades the entire universe (see discussion in Forgotten Civilization). Our Sun is composed primarily of hydrogen and other simple elements and particles (protons, electrons, and so forth) that have been demonstrated to contain the ability to encode information. Scientists such as Luc Montagnier, Masaru Emoto, and Cleve Backster have pioneered research in this field. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, believed we come from the Sun and stars, and thence we can return after physical death. And I hold that there is now strong evidence that simple particles (for instance, protons and electrons that make up hydrogen) can encode information – ultimately the stuff of consciousness, with matter arising from, or derivative of, consciousness (see Chapter 14 of Forgotten Civilization for further discussion).

Fundamentally, God is consciousness, and consciousness exists in and is expressed through basic particles, which in the universe we inhabit take the form of protons and electrons – that is, hydrogen that composes a large portion of our Sun – and streams of charged particles that emanate from it and bind the universe (electrical plasma). Here in the earliest known written word, which means God, we see these connections.

Image montage of Pillar 43 at Göbekli Tepe, a solar flare, a rongorongo tablet, and 
					Easter Island petroglyph
Image of Pillar 43 at Göbekli Tepe, as it compares to a solar flare (image courtesy of NASA) and Easter Island's rongorongo script (bottom center) and an Easter Island Birdman petroglyph (bottom left). (Top left and bottom left photographs, copyright R. Schoch and C. Ullissey; bottom right photograph courtesy of Berthold Steinhilber.)

There is more. When we look at Pillar 43 at Göbekli Tepe, not only do we find additional H symbols, some of which are flipped by 90 degrees (as is also the case on the front belt buckle area of Pillar 18), but also at the top of the pillar are three odd images that look like rectangles with inverted U shapes on them. To the right of each inverted U are different animals (some type of bird, some type of mammalian animal, and possibly a frog-like animal) jumping down, or sliding down, the up-side-down U shapes. These carvings have been variously interpreted as representing buildings or other structures, or as handbags (comparable to a woman’s purse). However, in the context of Göbekli Tepe and the discussion above, I prefer a different interpretation. The symbolism along the top of Pillar 43 may represent the electromagnetic and plasma arcing that would occur on an active Sun. Such arcing is observed on our Sun today, but is not seen without proper instrumentation (and one should never look at the Sun directly without the proper protective equipment). During the time of a much more active Sun, as would have been observed at the end of the last ice age, probably just before and during the solar outbursts, such arcing may well have been readily seen by many people on Earth (or understood by the scientists of the time, if we credit these people with the advanced knowledge that they may very well deserve), and they depicted this activity on Pillar 43. Furthermore, the jumping animals may represent the movement and snapping of the magnetic and plasma arcs as they form and connect with each other and the surface of the Sun and also give rise to the ejection of plasma during a solar outburst.

Image of an Australian aboriginal man
Image of an Australian aboriginal man (from Churchward, 1922).

Pillar 43 is sometimes referred to as the vulture pillar, named after the prominent bird, generally identified as a vulture, which appears on the pillar. On one wing the vulture balances a ball that may represent our Sun. In my research, I have found that birds and bird-headed humans (bird-men and bird-women) appear prominently in many mythologies. However, these shapes, as cutting-edge plasma physics now teaches, are also diagnostic of extreme solar events and high intensity plasma. We see this on Pillar 43 as well as on faraway Easter Island, where my wife and I have discovered that the Island’s previously unidentified scrip, rongorongo, is plasma in nature (this discovery was confirmed by a member of Dr. Peratt’s research team); possibly the written text (or fragments of it, and of course more recent copies of copies . . .) that records or was inspired by the giant solar event that occurred c. 9700 BCE. Indeed, I find many similarities between the iconography of Göbekli Tepe and Easter Island. And there are other apparent connections around the world. For instance, a variation on the Göbekli Tepe word for god, very similar to the form it takes on Pillar 28, appears on the chest of an Australian aboriginal man in a photograph found in the 1922 book by Albert Churchward titled Origin and Evolution of the Human Race (New York and London, Macmillan Company and George Allen & Unwin; Plate LIX). A variation on this form is found engraved on an ancient megalith at Knowth (near Newgrange), Ireland. Interestingly, the petroglyph at Knowth is more scientifically accurate according to plasma physics, for the core of a plasma torus spins (see image below). And the prominent “H” found abundantly at Göbekli Tepe is reminiscent of the “H blocks” at Puma Punku (near Tiwanaku), Bolivia. Were there direct connections between these areas in ancient times? Are the similarities derived from a common source, or common knowledge of our Sun, consciousness, and plasma that pervades the universe? I doubt these shapes found in seemingly disparate locations are all a matter of coincidence. Rather I believe they reflect shared advanced knowledge, science our civilization is just beginning to understand.

In the word symbolism found at Göbekli Tepe and other ancient sites, particularly the C, H, reversed C and its derivatives, we have two concepts that are combined and presented: The Sun and God. This is a theme that permeates the ancient world: The Sun was worshipped as a deity. On a journey to India, Katie and I learned first-hand that among the Hindu tenets is the belief that the Sun is the one and ultimate God, and the physical manifestation of the supreme God. Is there a distinct consciousness possessed by the Sun, the planets, the stars, and even perhaps the constellations (possibly a collective consciousness)? To the Greeks, Romans, and many other ancient peoples, the celestial bodies were recognized as gods (Jupiter = Zeus, Apollo = Sun, and so on). What then is the C, H, reversed C symbolism trying to convey? Why is the T-shaped Pillar 18 at Göbekli Tepe wearing this message? Is it directing our gaze to Orion, with its prominent belt (see the SIDA article on this website for more on this particular branch of my research). Pillar 18 may be intended as a recreation of Orion, the headless hunter accompanied by the dog (Sirius, the dog star in the constellation Canis Major, the greater dog); on Pillar 18 the dog is tucked under the right arm. On Pillar 18 the arms, which are spread out in the actual constellation, are brought down to the sides and the hands frame the navel region, reminiscent of the moai on Easter Island. The belt of Pillar 18 corresponds to the belt stars of Orion, and the fox-pelt loincloth can be seen as equivalent to the Orion Nebula which hangs from the belt in the constellation. And Orion is surrounded by the zodiac, a series of constellations, many of which represent animal forms, just as Pillar 18 is surrounded by a ring of smaller pillars with varied carvings at Göbekli Tepe. This iconography suggests yet another message that we are meant to discern. Do we, or does our star, have an umbilical connection to Orion? The Orion Nebula is a birthplace of stars. The writing and symbolism at Göbekli Tepe is most certainly speaking to us, though its message may be unclear at this time.

Plasma petroglyph at Knowth beside image of the H blocks at Puma Punku
Left: Robert Schoch beside a large plasma petroglyph at Knowth, Ireland. Right: megalithic H blocks at Puma Punku, Bolivia. (Photographs copyright R. Schoch and C. Ulissey.)

All in all, I feel confident that the Göbekli Tepe people used written language. Admittedly, we have only a limited amount of their writing preserved on the structures so far uncovered (numerous stone circles identified there via geophysical techniques remain unexcavated). I predict that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I hope that eventually substantial texts from Göbekli Tepe times will be found. Until then, I am continuing to study the symbols – the writing – from this early period that have been recovered so far. And to return to the issue of true civilization, there is now no doubt in my mind that the Göbekli Tepe people not only built monumental stone structures and most likely had large settlements that we should classify as cities, but that they also had the third (and in the opinion of some scholars, the most critical) diagnostic feature of civilization, namely writing and literacy. The Göbekli Tepe people were incredibly knowledgeable with a well-organized and sophisticated society. They possessed a true civilization at the end of the last ice age – six thousand years before most conventional historians believe that true civilization first arose.

Addendum: 8 April 2020.

Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that electrical discharge phenomena can produce craters with a central uplift, which creates the impression of a circle with a dot in the middle; this might be viewed as further supporting the plasma and solar outburst correlation to the symbol of this shape found at Göbekli Tepe. One could also view this as the Sun creating its own symbol – leaving its own fingerprint, if you will. However, geology is not so simple. Physical impactors (meteors, asteroids, comets, etc.) can also create craters with a central uplift, and both electrical discharge phenomena and physical impactors can create craters without a central uplift (that is, without the "dot" in the center). As we view it, though, the preponderance of evidence (well beyond this one symbol) points to a connection with the Sun.

Image of Milton and Alicia Schoch, parents of Robert Schoch
Milton R. Schoch (left, 1931–2020) and C. Alicia Schoch (right, 1932–2012), December 2010; parents of Robert Schoch.

Addendum: 13 May 2020, with my father (Milton R. Schoch) fighting for his life in a hospital in Virginia, having contracted COVID-19, I offer the following.

To address the issue mentioned above as to why LN 360 would be found on the chest of an Australian aboriginal man: I believe the ultimate message may be, just as the Ancient Egyptians proclaimed: We become the Sun (or stars more generally). Recent science, as I discuss in my book Forgotten Civilization and paraphrased above, demonstrates that hydrogen can encode information. Hydrogen is a major component of stars and also of life in general, and humans in particular. The human body contains a large amount of water, and water is H2O. Katie and I speculate that during life the hydrogen within us encodes information about us and, upon death, because it is a light element (the lightest on the periodic table), it leaves the body and floats upward to space to gather into clouds and ultimately works to form stars. This may be sacred science left to us from a forgotten civilization. Perhaps it is the most important message of all, that upon death we rejoin the stellar cosmos and the divine.

Addendum: 14 May 2020.

My father, Milton R. Schoch, passed away in the early morning hours today (U.S. east coast time) due to COVID-19 Pneumonia. We loved him, miss him already, and wish him well in all that comes next.

A Postscript:

Image of Robert Schoch and Catherine Ulissey at Newgrange, Ireland
Robert Schoch and Catherine Ulissey at Newgrange, Ireland. (Photograph copyright R. Schoch and C. Ulissey.)

I, Robert Schoch, am the primary author of this article. However, Katie contributed to it greatly in terms of research, contributions to the writing, and editing. As many people know, I began my serious work on ancient civilizations decades ago due to the urging of the late John Anthony West, who asked me to apply my geological expertise to examining the anomalous weathering and erosion patterns on the Great Sphinx of Egypt. Determining that the fundamental (primary) cause was water, in the form of torrential and protracted rainfall, was relatively simple. However, the triggering mechanism – as Katie likes to say, "the culprit behind the ancient demise" (of what not only ended Earth's last ice age but also decimated the high civilizations of the time) – remained a mystery until Katie connected Easter Island's previously undeciphered script to the research of Dr. Anthony Peratt. As I write in Forgotten Civilization, in hearing this revelation I was struck as if by plasma itself. This occurred in 2010. I needed substantially more empirical data before I would go out on a limb in asserting that solar factors ended the Younger Dryas (and thus Earth's last ice age), but I am convinced there is now a plethora of evidence to buttress this limb. This article expresses the thrust of our combined research in the years since.

Katie and I, with the not-for-profit Organization for the Research of Ancient Cultures (ORACUL) are working on a documentary that will include some of the research presented in the article above. If you would like to support this endeavor, please consider donating. And if you would like to see our first trailer (we are still early in the filming process), here is a link. So as to save money in these initial stages of production, we did not hire a professional narrator. Rest assured we will for the final documentary.

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