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Unusual relief discovered at Neolithic site in south-eastern Turkey


Archaeologists in south-eastern Turkey have uncovered an unusual Neolithic period stone relief that includes a frontal portrait of man holding his phallus.


Unusual relief discovered at Neolithic site in south-eastern Turkey
A male figure holding his phallus in the middle and leopards on either side can be seen
[Credit: Bekir Köşker]

Excavations at the Sayburç site in Anatolia's Taş Tepeler ('Stone Hills') region are being carried out by Istanbul University and the Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum.




The relief in the settlement, which likely dates back to roughly 8,000 BCE, also sports another naked man, two leopards and a large-horned bull.


Located in the province of Şanlıurfa, the Taş Tepeler region is home to 12 prehistoric sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Göbekli Tepe.


Unusual relief discovered at Neolithic site in south-eastern Turkey
A man holding a snake in one hand is seen in front of a bull depicted with large horns
[Credit: Bekir Köşker]

These Neolithic ruins are believed to be some of the earliest sedentary settlements in human history and among the first examples of the use of organised and specialised labour, although relatively little is known about the inhabitants.


Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism have recently teamed up with the Tourism Promotion and Development Agency to launch the 'Tepeler Bag' Neolithic heritage project, which will conduct further excavations at the sites between 2021–2024.




The Sayburç site was first investigated earlier this year, after experts at the nearby Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum were informed that local villagers had been using blocks from obelisks found in the area to construct their garden walls.


The phallographic relief was found in the remains of a circular pit-bottomed building, cut out of the limestone bedrock, which measured around 36 feet in diameter.


Unusual relief discovered at Neolithic site in south-eastern Turkey
View of the entire relief decorating the building in Sayburç 
[Credit: Bekir Köşker]

Running along the building's wall was a three-feet-high, 23–27 inch-wide bench cut into the rock, on the front of the remaining portion of which the carving was found.




On the eastern side of the relief stands the embossed, front-facing man, who appears to have one hand on his penis, the other on his stomach and wears a necklace or collar — a common motif on Neolithic figures in found in Taş Tepeler.


The leopards that surround and face him are, aside from being mirror images of each other, are all but identical, with open mouths, visible teeth and their tails held high.


Unusual relief discovered at Neolithic site in south-eastern Turkey
General view of the building in Sayburç where the relief was found
[Credit: Bekir Köşker]

In contrast, the western side of the carving displays a man in side view — identifiable from his extended phallus — facing away from the other man and towards a bull with particularly large horns.


The second man's left hand appear to sport six fingers, while he holds an upside-down snake in his other hand. 


Author: Ian Randall | Source: Daily Mail [October 31, 2021]



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