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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday May 16 2020, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the did-they-file-a-permit? dept.

Geometry guided construction of earliest known temple, built 6,000 years before Stonehenge:

The sprawling 11,500-year-old stone Göbekli Tepe complex in southeastern Anatolia, Turkey, is the earliest known temple in human history and one of the most important discoveries of Neolithic research.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority have now used architectural analysis to discover that geometry informed the layout of Göbekli Tepe's impressive round stone structures and enormous assembly of limestone pillars, which they say were initially planned as a single structure.

Three of the Göbekli Tepe's monumental round structures, the largest of which are 20 meters in diameter, were initially planned as a single project, according to researchers Gil Haklay of the Israel Antiquities Authority, a Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. They used a computer algorithm to trace aspects of the architectural design processes involved in the construction of these enclosures in this early Neolithic site.

Their findings were published in Cambridge Archaeological Journal in May.

[...] Discovered by German archaeologist Dr. Klaus Schmidt in 1994, Göbekli Tepe has since been the subject of hot archaeological debate. But while these, and other early Neolithic remains, have been intensively studied, the issue of architectural planning during these periods and its cultural ramifications have not.

Most researchers have made the case that the Göbekli Tepe enclosures at the main excavation area were constructed over time. However, Haklay and Prof. Gopher say that three of the structures were designed as a single project and according to a coherent geometric pattern.

[...] "This case of early architectural planning may serve as an example of the dynamics of cultural changes during the early parts of the Neolithic period," Haklay says. "Our findings suggest that major architectural transformations during this period, such as the transition to rectangular architecture, were knowledge-based, top-down processes carried out by specialists.

"The most important and basic methods of architectural planning were devised in the Levant in the Late Epipaleolithic period as part of the Natufian culture and through the early Neolithic period. Our new research indicates that the methods of architectural planning, abstract design rules and organizational patterns were already being used during this formative period in human history."

Next, the researchers intend to investigate the architectural remains of other Neolithic sites throughout the Levant.

More information:Gil Haklay et al, Geometry and Architectural Planning at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey, Cambridge Archaeological Journal (2020). DOI: 10.1017/S0959774319000660

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  • (Score: 2) by Arik on Saturday May 16 2020, @09:35PM (4 children)

    by Arik (4543) on Saturday May 16 2020, @09:35PM (#995146) Journal
    "We know [] they were doing it."

    This kind of slack-jawed bullshit has been popular in popular-science rags for centuries, but there's still no good evidence for it at all.

    This is no different. Breathless bullshit. They found one arrowhead embedded in a rib. That means that someone put an arrow so deep in it they were probably holding it in their hand at the time, and the mammoth lived. The human, probably not.

    At some later point, perhaps many years later, the mammoth in question died from something else and the ribs were scavenged.

    The site in question is clearly a place where mammoth remains are utilized, but there's literally nothing there to separate it from hundreds or thousands of other sites, or to prove that this was really hunting not just scavenging.

    "I wouldn't hunt an elephant straight up."

    Neither would any neolithic hunter with an IQ above freezing, believe me.

    "There's plenty of relatively low risk ways to kill large animals"

    Yes, and looking in that direction would have been your only chance.

    That doesn't mean any of them would have been easy enough to represent a viable strategy either, of course.

    "drop them off a cliff or into a spiked pit"

    First you have to hold them off a cliff or above a spiked pit. Good luck.

    "ambush with javelins and spears in a location that hinders mobility of the large animal far more than the person"

    This would have been viable with some animals but it seems particularly unlikely to work with Mammoths. Elephants are smart and only very young solo Elephants were taken like this historically. Mammoth skin would have been thick enough to shrug off javelins and throwing spears. Yes, modern neolithics did take down Elephants with those weapons but remember they used strong poisons. Without the poison, the wounds inflicted were not deep enough to have much effect. There's no reason to believe Mammoth skin would have been anything but proportionately thicker than an African Elephant, plus a thick wooly layer on top.

    "Of course, it would be a rather dumb elephant to get into an obvious ambush unless they are desperate"

    I think this is exactly the point. It would have been a rare case where ANY of these strategies could be expected to work - and they would have been extremely dangerous to attempt. And remember, no medicine.

    It would make absolutely no sense for anyone to go out deliberately hunting mammoth. You'd go out hunting easier stuff. Bison? Horse? Kine? FAR easier to kill than mammoth, far less dangerous, still producing more meat and skin and bone than you know what to do with.

    Now maybe you go out hunting one thing and wind up with another. That happened all the time. Maybe you run into an extremely young and inexperienced bull mammoth, on his own for the first time, and he falls into an obvious trap. Maybe you make a huge trap to run bison herds into, and before you see a bison herd a bull mammoth falls in! All you have to do now is hang out at a discrete distance until his herd finally gives up and leaves, then scavenge the body.

    That all falls under scavenging and taking opportunities. Not deliberately hunting mammoths.
    If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:06AM (1 child)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:06AM (#995257) Journal

    I suspect the idea of mammoth hunting is a "man the mighty hunter" myth, concocted by macho men who like to think their ancestors were the meanest, toughest, and most fit of all animals in Stone Age times, the apex predator.

    They probably could kill mammoths, with traps, long range weapons, and perhaps endurance, but it would have been at the least a lot more effort than hunting antelope. Very likely a lot riskier too. It's not just that mammoth are a lot, lot bigger than antelope, and may be more inclined to fight than flee. It's also that they are smarter, and once humans showed their colors, they would remember. Is it possible that any humans who killed a mammoth would find themselves and their village or camp attacked by the rest of the herd, the next night?

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday May 17 2020, @12:51PM

      by Arik (4543) on Sunday May 17 2020, @12:51PM (#995329) Journal
      Yes, I think you're right. People feel it's more flattering to imagine their ancestors hunting the very biggest game, rather than the more realistic scenario of them preferring to hunt less dangerous prey, and scavenge anything else they can.

      "They probably could kill mammoths, with traps, long range weapons, and perhaps endurance, but it would have been at the least a lot more effort than hunting antelope. "

      And it would have relied on luck to even be occasionally viable. Mammoths likely behaved very similar to African Elephants today, which means they are usually found in herds with several large, adult Elephants watching out for and guarding the young. Attacking a herd of elephants with spears is just suicidal. Maybe once in awhile you find a young one that's gotten separated from the group and manage to take it down? Sure. But you don't plan your hunt based on the idea you'll get incredibly lucky. You plan your hunt to go out and take prey that you reasonably expect to find, and to be able to take safely.

      You mention antelope, and we know they were commonly hunted, a favorite prey of early humans. Hunting antelope you would get close enough to attack with javelin or throwing spear or a small bow, trying to get one good shot in by ambush most likely. And the antelope would get hit and run away, the rest of the herd would see that and run away too. Then you just follow the blood trail, and recover the body. Relatively safe and easy. Maybe another predator claims the body before you can retrieve it - that's the main risk here.

      Compare that to what would happen if you tried to ambush a Mammoth in the same way. The mammoth probably doesn't run away - it charges straight at you. The rest of the herd? Yeah, several of those are charging you too, maybe one of them is leading the young ones away at the same time but still. You're very likely coming out of this shaped like a pancake, and even if your target does bleed out later, you're not going to be around to harvest it.

      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:57AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2020, @05:57AM (#995268)

    The opening scene of Far Cry Primal [] shows one possibility: []
    That is a fun game, btw.

    • (Score: 2) by Arik on Sunday May 17 2020, @12:40PM

      by Arik (4543) on Sunday May 17 2020, @12:40PM (#995324) Journal
      Yeah, it looks like a fun game.

      But think about that scene as it played out there even. The mammoth is unrealistically easy, repeatedly turning away and running into barriers while it takes projectile after projectile, only occasionally turning around and rushing an attacker, then again turning it's back and allowing the humans to just freely attack it from behind again. I suspect in reality they would have been more aggressive, far less inclined to run away, and not at all likely to just stand there running into a wall while taking spears and elephants from behind.

      And even with that, it looked like this band lost at least a half dozen hunters to get one mammoth down. Forget the saber-tooth at the end, let's say that didn't happen, it just ends with 'good hunt.' Was that a good hunt?

      Hell no. Losing a half dozen hunters to get one mammoth corpse would NOT have been a good hunt, not at all. That would have been a catastrophë, an absolute disaster.

      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?