The Riddle of Portasar and Turkish Falsifications

Turkey continues to distort history and appropriate Armenian historical and cultural heritage.

As stated at a press conference in Yerevan by the main scientific advisor of the Oxford University expedition program “Stones and Stars”, candidate of biological sciences Vachagan Vagradjan, today Turkey presents the Portasar temple complex located in Western Armenia to the world community as the Turkish Stonehenge.

“According to research, the Portasar temple complex is over 18,000 years old. It is one of the largest and oldest ritual-religious complexes in the world. Its construction testifies to the high level of development of the Armenian people,” said Vachagan Vagardyan.

The Portasar temple complex (in Turkish – Göbekli Tepe, literal translation from Armenian – henceforth Portasar) is located at the highest point of the mountain range 15 km northeast of the ancient city of Edessa, in the province of Şanlıurfa (historical Western Armenia) in southeastern Turkey.

It is one of the oldest and largest megalithic structures in the world. That the hill was man-made was known to archaeologists in the last century (in the 1960s).

From the mid-90s, the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute began excavations here, and from the first stones found on the surface, it was concluded that they are from the Stone Age.

This is not only the most ancient cultic, but also the largest megalithic structure to date. It has already been christened the “Turkish Stonehenge”, although, since it is over 12,000 years old, it is 7,000 years older than the famous Stonehenge located in England. And it was built 5 and a half thousand years earlier than the first cities of Mesopotamia, known to us from history textbooks.

Portasar consists of perfectly flat circles, laid out of rectangular stone blocks, from which rise dozens of gigantic T-shaped columns, cut from limestone. The columns, weighing up to 50 tons, reach a height of 5 meters.

They were brought and installed manually. After all, even domestic pack animals did not exist then. The floors in the buildings are made of limestone, and along the walls, apparently, there were stone benches. The T-shaped columns are adorned with skilful carvings. They depict foxes, snakes, boars, cranes, lions, vultures, and other birds and animals.

Creatures similar in appearance to humans have also been discovered, but they are always depicted without eyes, nose, and mouth. Most of the images are carved on the surface of the pillars in the form of a relief. But there are also impressive three-dimensional sculptures.

One of the most striking is a lion descending down the column. All these bas-reliefs are completely unique and testify to the fact that primitive people had a high level of artistic taste and sophistication in perceiving the world.

The first stone was dug up by a shepherd in 1994. The following year, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt came to Portasar with a group of archaeologists and still leads the excavations to this day. As Schmidt himself says, “When I first saw this place, I realized that I had two options: either leave here and not tell anyone anything, or study this object for the rest of my life.”

The mystery of Portasar is no less astonishing than the secrets of the pyramids, but much more ancient. Scientists can only assume that this was a ritual structure, but it is not known for sure what caused the ancient people to come together and build such a truly colossal structure.

Among researchers and enthusiasts, there are various assumptions: from grounded to incredible. Some believe that Portasar was not a temple, but just a place where people lived, others put forward ideas about the intervention of extraterrestrial races in the history of the Earth and the construction of this complex by aliens. There are opinions that Portasar was the Garden of Eden or a prototype of Noah’s Ark.

Russian historian Gennady Klimov believes that Portasar and similar structures on the territory of Russia were erected by the same race. He confirms his theory with the fact that in the 9th millennium BC, there was no Black Sea and the path from the Russian glacial steppes to these regions was free.

We are used to the idea that agriculture appeared first, and then settlements, but Portasar also fundamentally changes our perception of ancient people in this regard. Scientists have established that to erect such a monumental structure, it was necessary to gather at least 500 people at the same time. That is, all these people lived together.

Scientists suggest that it was the construction of this temple that played an important role in the transition to agriculture, and therefore to the birth of civilization as we understand it. As soon as ancient people came together, started living in one place, it became difficult to feed so many workers and pilgrims. And perhaps this is what prompted them to domesticate wild plants and animals.

All conclusions regarding the temple complex of Portasar are preliminary, as excavations are conducted only on 5% of its territory. Archaeologists believe that research will continue for another 50 years. The dating of the researched part refers the end of layer III to the 9th millennium BC, and its beginning – to the 11th millennium BC or earlier. Layer II refers to the 8th-9th millennia BC.

Since the complex appeared even before the Neolithic revolution, the origin of agriculture and livestock farming in this region should apparently be attributed to the era after the 9th millennium BC. At the same time, the construction of such a grand structure required the efforts of a large number of people and a certain social organization.

This is uncharacteristic for the Mesolithic. According to rough estimates, to manufacture and deliver columns weighing 10-20 tons from a quarry to a construction site, which are separated by up to 500 meters, required the efforts of up to 500 people in the absence of draft animals.

In fact, some columns weigh up to 50 tons, so even more people were needed. It is even suggested that slave labor was used in such works, which is also uncharacteristic for hunter-gatherer communities.

Such works required systematic efforts and the presence of a social hierarchy, in which many people were subordinate to one religious or military leader, and the religious leader then had to control the conduct of rituals.

In this case, the very existence of the temple complex in such a distant historical era testifies to social stratification at a very early stage of the development of Neolithic culture.

At the beginning of the 8th millennium BC, the Portasar temple complex lost its former significance. But it was not just abandoned and forgotten to gradually crumble as a result of natural weathering.

It was intentionally filled with a layer of earth 300-500 meters thick. By whom and why this was done – is unknown. The first settlements with adobe houses and granaries full of peas, wheat, almonds, and pistachios were found in the same region.

Judging by these findings, agriculture and animal husbandry appeared in the Armenian Highlands about 9,000 years ago and from there spread east to Mesopotamia and west to the Mediterranean Sea.

Further on, settlements spread throughout Europe and reached its western border 7,000 years ago. From the perspective of well-known archaeologists Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, the Armenian Highlands was the birthplace of all early Indo-European peoples.

The comment of the chairman of the organization, ICOMOS-Armenia, and the director of the Erebuni Museum-Reserve, Gagik GYURDJYAN, is unequivocal:

  • Studying this unique temple will take many decades. It has several archaeological layers. And each holds many secrets and surprises. The fact that this temple is located in the Armenian Highlands suggests the presence of an Armenian trail, most likely quite impressive. Therefore, our specialists should also be involved in studying this layer.

by Tigran Mirzoyan, “Voice of Armenia”

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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