An Interview with noted British author Andrew Collins
The mystery of the Cygnus constellation, the Biblical Flood, the Garden of Eden, the Watchers, and other startling clues from Turkey’s Gobekli Tepe
by: Brent Raynes
Brent Raynes: Your visit to the world's oldest temple site, Gobekli Tepe, in May 2004, which resulted in your discovery and recognition that this incredible megalithic complex was aligned to the constellation of Cygnus, further compelled you to research and visit other ancient sites across the globe where you again and again uncovered this Cygnus alignment. Of course, your extraordinary book The Cygnus Mystery (2006) describes all of this in great depth and detail, along with similar worldwide traditions connected with Cygnus of what has been described as "bird shamanism." You continue to write about Cygnus in your recently published book Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, revealing even more astounding information.
But for right now, can you please give our readers an overview on this matter and bring them up to speed on the Cygnus connection and what is called "the Path of Souls"?
Andrew Collins: All around the world ancient cultures would appear to have focused their interest on the movements of the Milky Way as seen in the night sky. They were attracted not only to the star groups along its course, but also the place where in the northern sky it appears to break in two to form two separate streams. This is known as the Great Rift, and its beginning is marked by the stars of Cygnus, the celestial swan or bird, also known as the Northern Cross. Ice Age art in Western Europe shows this area of the sky either as a bird on a pole alongside a bird-headed man (Lascaux in southern France, which dates to 16,500 BC), or as the body of a woman overlaid on the stomach of which is a bovine's head (Chauvet, again in southern France, which dates to 30,000 BC). There is good reason to suppose that these frescoes depict abstract reflections of the Milky Way's Great Rift and Cygnus constellations.
Adding to the mix is the fact that from 16,500 BC through to 13,000 BC, the Cygnus stars occupied the position of the celestial pole, making first Deneb, the constellation's brightest star, and afterward Delta Cygni, Pole Stars during this epoch. This would have made these stars even more important to the cosmology of the Upper Paleolithic peoples existing at this time.
Some of these ideas almost certainly reached the North American continent prior to the submergence of the Beringia land bridge around 8500 BC. They would have been adopted by the Paleo-Indians and much later incorporated into the cosmological iconography of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC), or Southern death cult, which thrived during the Mississippian period, ca. AD 800-1500. Their beliefs and practices went on to influence the traditions of many Native American tribes, some of which continue to thrive today. For them the Milky Way is the so-called Path of Souls, along which the soul has to journey in order to reach the sky world. They recognize a hand and eye constellation, identified with the Orion constellation, which acted as the entry point to the Milky Way, while the Cygnus star Deneb, personified as a bird man named Brain Smasher, judges the soul as it approaches a fork in the Path of Souls. It is this supernatural being that determines whether or not the soul is free of sin. If it is, then it can enter the sky world proper via a log bridge, identified as the connecting arm of the Milky Way’s Great Rift. Thereafter the soul enters the realm of the celestial beings and is reunited with its ancestral family.
Brent Raynes: In your book Gobekli Tepe, you certainly reveal some truly extraordinary things. For example, you describe a connection between this awesome site and the Biblical story of the Great Flood. That seems like an aspect that should interest a great many people. What can you tell us about this?
Andrew Collins: In geographical terms Gobekli Tepe is less than 200 miles away from the traditional site of the Garden of Eden, the terrestrial Paradise, located where the four great rivers of Paradise take their rise in the Eastern Taurus Mountains and Armenian Highlands of eastern Anatolia, and also the so-called Place of Descent, the landing place of Noah's Ark, which occurred according to local Christian, Moslem and Jewish tradition not on Mount Ararat, but on a mountain called Mount Judi (called today Judi Dag). The reality of these stories is irrelevant here. What is important is that both the birthplace of humankind and its point of regeneration after the Flood, according to the book of Genesis, both occurred close to the oldest stone temple complex anywhere in the world. This is not a coincidence, especially when we realize that virtually all the early stories told in the book of Genesis prior to the age of Abraham took place in what is today eastern Anatolia. Abraham himself is said to have started his journey to God's Promised Land, the land of Canaan, from his home city of Ur of Chaldees, which Kurdish tradition associates with the city of Sanliurfa, just 8 miles away from Gobekli Tepe.
With the Bible's earliest events taking place in the same vicinity of Gobekli Tepe there is little question that some part of them might contain a memory of the acceleration in technological innovation and religious ideas that took place here at the beginning of the Neolithic age, ca. 9500-8000 BC. The two are inextricably linked.
Brent Raynes: In this book you also reveal a strong connection with this site and the mysterious Watchers of the Book of Enoch, as well as the Anunnaki of the Sumerian traditions. Can you share with us a little about this?
Andrew Collins: When Gobekli Tepe was first created ca. 9500-9000 BC the world was still full of hunter-gatherers. There were no farmers and no pastoralists; they came later. Something, however, brought together the hunter-gatherers of southeast Anatolia in order to create this incredible stone complex, the earliest monumental architecture anywhere in the world. I put forward ample evidence to suggest that this "something" was an incoming elite, who arrived from the north at the time of a mini Ice Age known as the Younger Dryas event. The sudden drop in temperature forced human populations south, and eastern Anatolia would have been a good haven to settle at this time. From the type of stone implements found at Gobekli Tepe it is clear that this incoming group were of European origin, and can be identified with a cultural tradition known as the Swiderian. Those belonging to this tradition occupied wide areas of the East European Plain from the Carpathian Mountains in the west to the Volga and Don rivers of Central Russia in the east. They carried a highly advanced tool technology inherited from much older, highly advanced peoples known as the Eastern Gravettians.
Among the Swiderians were individuals of striking appearance, being both tall (up to six feet in height) and with extremely long heads. One of the reasons for this is that an examination of skulls thought to belong to their population show evidence of being a cross between Neanderthals and archaic modern humans. In other words, the strange appearance of at least some Swiderians was perhaps derived from the fact that they were Neanderthal-human hybrids.
I am sure these people were the ruling elite that entered eastern Anatolia around 10,500-10,000 BC, and kickstarted the Neolithic revolution, something recalled in the manner that the human angels called Watchers in the book of Enoch and the Anunnaki builder gods in Sumerian tradition are said to have provided humankind with the rudiments of civilization. That the Watchers are also described as extremely tall with elongated heads fits well with the evidence. What is more, Professor Klaus Schmidt, the lead archaeologist in charge of excavations at Gobekli Tepe, has linked the myths and stories of the Anunnaki with the elite behind the construction of the monument. This is important as in my earlier book From the Ashes of Angels I suggested there that these mythical beings might well have been the prime movers behind the spread of civilization in eastern Anatolia, and now, with the discovery of Gobekli Tepe, this becomes much more likely indeed.
Brent Raynes: Another exciting element that you wrote about was this site's connection to the Biblical Garden of Eden story. Again this is another aspect that should be of tremendous interest to a wide audience of people. The location of the Garden of Eden has long been debated among scholars. You feel you've got a pretty good fix on its location?
Andrew Collins: I think the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden committing the original sin is an abstract memory of the changeover from the age of the hunter-gatherer in eastern Anatolia to that of the settled farmer and pastoralist, and how this caused the destiny of humanity to chance forever. Now instead of leading free lives as hunters, providing for your family and extended family group, you had to become part of a greater whole, working on behalf of task masters to a set regime that everybody formed part of, whether they liked it or not. It was the beginning of the age outside the utopic dream-like reality that had existed in the Garden of Eden. Now humanity no longer had access to Paradise, and could never return there for the rest of its days. The last chapter of the book is all about this subject.
Brent Raynes: Our co-editor Greg Little praised your book. Quote: "Andrew Collins has not only written the definitive explanation of Gobekli Tepe, but he has probably explained one of the most important mysteries of all times: Where and how did modern humans evolve? This is a masterpiece of work that brings ancient history to life." Graham Hancock of course wrote a glowing 8 page Introduction.
How do you want your book to be best remembered? What do you hope will be the outcome of all of this hard and scholarly work that you've done compiling together all of this thought-provoking and important information?
Andrew Collins: Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods is the first popular book on the subject of Gobekli Tepe. I suspect that it will do very well indeed, and be translated into various other languages, and so will be read throughout the world. This alone is going to have an impact on the way people think about the site, what its purpose might have been, as well as who built it, and why. They are questions I attempt to answer as definitively as possible.
I am not saying that everything I write is going to be proved one hundred percent accurate. However, it is right to speculate, and predict what might have been going on here ten to twelve thousand years ago.
So far only about ten percent of the site has been excavated. It is estimated that there are up to twenty more stone enclosures, complete with rings of T-shaped carved standing stones still to be uncovered. Yet with each new discovery, it will either confirm or dismiss predictions.
For instance, I have proposed in the new book that Gobekli Tepe's enclosures were directed north toward the Milky Way's Great Rift marked by the Cygnus star Deneb. There are even large stones with holes in them in the northern sections of the perimeter wall's of two key enclosures through which the setting of Deneb might have been viewed during the epoch of their construction. This to me is firm evidence of my predictions.
Other researchers in the field of ancient mysteries are proposing that the enclosures face south and target popular asterisms such as Orion, Sirius and the Pleiades. As attractive as these ideas seem, they do not make sense of the evidence being uncovered today.
Yet only through further excavation work will any of these theories be properly vindicated or dismissed.
So we live in an exciting time, one in which the age of civilization itself is being pushed back further and further.
Brent Raynes: Although you're busy now doing interviews, lectures, autographing copies of your book, and leading tours, I wonder what may be next on your horizon?
Andrew Collins: I have been working on a new project with Greg Little on the origins of the star myths of the Native American peoples, and how they would seem to have originated on the Eurasian continent prior to the disappearance of Beringia some 10,500 years ago, and were spread, according to legend, by elite groups that included individuals of extremely tall statue, in other words the giants or Nephilim of popular tradition. Greg and I have investigated the claims of giant skeletons being found in a number of Native American mounds, and we come to some startling conclusions in the new book being written on the subject. This should be published later this year.