I believe it's possible to arrive at a definative answer as to what the Pillars of Gobekli Tepe represented to their constructors, which i shall
explain and demonstrate here.
In general i'll be going along with the current best explanation which is that the animals seen upon them were in some way totemic spirit guides of a
shamanic type religious practise, but in particular i'll address the formal geometric structural qualities, for which there is no offered reason,
other than they served to hold the roof up..
In essence what i suggest is that the pillars represented the Underworld. terrestial plane, and the upper/Heavenly realm, the essential
inter-connectivity between these realms and the totemic animals that served such.
Symbolic animals at Gobekli Tepe
remains the best paper on what has
thus far been uncovered in terms of the nature and number of the beasts, snakes take first place at around 28%, then foxes at 14%, with boars and
cranes also very popular.
To demonstrate what was involved i'll show a very close comparative which is from China and dates to the Han Dynasty, thus only a couple of thousand
years old, and i can only conclude that an entire corpus of evidence for the transmission of these ideas through time and place has been lost, perhaps
not too surprisingly if as the funerary banner of Lady Dai they were represented on fabrics.
The Han dynasty funerary banner corresponds to the basic 'T' shape of the Gobekli Tepe pillars, it shows the transiition from the Underworld through
to the realm of the Immortals.
The Chinese had a well developed tradition of dragons providing the means of transition through the realms by this period, but at Gobekli Tepe it was
the likes of the humble adder that would have sufficed.
Looking at what is involved;
The lower section of the banner shows the offerings and ceremonies devoted to her body soul (po). Sacrificial vessels are provided for her and
attendants are standing next to her, ready to serve her soul which resides in the tomb. Beneath the tomb we get a glimpse of the creatures living in
the underworld: A deity of the earth carries the foundation of the tomb, her netherworld dwelling.
Tomb of Lady Dai
Lady Dai funerary banner
The central part of the banner shows Lady Dai in a standing position. She leans on a cane, while two persons crouch or kneel in front of her
and three women, presumably female attendants, stand behind her.
The upper part of the banner is said to show the realm of the immortals. The entrance is guarded by two deities holding the records of the life span
of Lady Dai. They are identified as deities of destiny.
The scenes are interpreted as showing the modes of existence of the soul after death.
The corpse is placed in the tomb where it is served by underworld attendants. The body soul enjoys and consumes the burial objects and offerings.
At the same time the spirit soul (hun) ascends to the realm of the immortals and seems to rejuvenate during this process.
Apart from the obvious role of the snake, the cranes are also strongly represented in the funerary banner, seen at the highest level of the Heavenly
realm, the fox also being a traditional shape shifting spirit guide, there is correlation between the function of the Chinese bestiary and that seen
at Gobekli Tepe.
There is an intriguing correspondance with the pillars of Gobekli Tepe seen at the entrance into the Heavenly realm, in that the two pillars seen
there have parallel inset features, those pillars i need to look into further...
particularly so as they are surmounted by leopards, which are represented also at Gobekli Tepe, and again also had great significance at Catal Hoyuk
in conjunction with sacred pillars, within the Goddess shrine;
In terms of the greater anthropomorphic elements seen at Gobekli Tepe, and the 'H' motif, that should probably be seen in terms of an overall
presiding Deity of nature, the arms and hands, and belts are generally at the level of the navel were the terrestial realm meets with the underworld,
from whence spirits became incarnate, the 'H' motif represents the interlinking of two realms, and probably also was developed from practical usage
in woodworking, the joining of panels.
The relationship between birth, and transition through levels of being is best seen in the Gobekli Tepe totem, entrance into all three levels would be
through a form of birth, and in the totem one sees three inter-connected births, within the overall context of the figure of the birth Goddess.
The serpents down the flanks of the figure again reinforce their role in this transition of birth through three realms, very complex iconography for
the period, but this does confirm the essential three realm model of the Gobekli Tepe pillars.
There has been evidence from other neolithic sites that the arms and hands seen on the Gobekli Tepe pillars could be related to a birth Goddess, but
until now the concept of a triple birth through the three realms has not been conceived...pun intended.
A remaining mystery is the relationship between rectangles and the generation of parabola, the relationship between parabola and serpents, and the
relationship between serpents and portals...
but such understandings would have been of the Gods, and for my part here i have outlined the terms in which the people who constructed the pillars
would have seen them.