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Researchers find evidence of ancient ‘skull cult’ at known ritual hotspot

skull cult

Researchers poking around at one of the oldest known sites of human civilization — and some say rituals — have discovered what they are referring to as evidence of an ancient “skull cult.” Hundreds of human skulls, chopped up and carved with crude stone tools, litter the ground, while others skull fragments show telltale signs that they were placed on stakes, displayed for an unknown reason.

The discovery was made at Göbekli Tepe, a site in southern Turkey which is thought to have been a temple some 9,000 years ago, during the stone age. The skulls, broken into pieces and littered about the area, were (thankfully) busted up after the individuals had died, but researchers believe the processing of the skulls was done very shortly after death, as the skulls were likely still partially softened.

Of the hundreds of fragmented skulls discovered, three of them were unlike the rest. Rather than simply being broken into pieces, the three had deep lines cut into them with stone tools. The straight grooves puzzled the researchers at first, but one solid theory is that the lines were carved to help support rope, suggesting those skulls were placed on wooden stakes and tied down for display — or perhaps intimidation — purposes.

Of course, being thousands of years old, it’s impossible to know exactly what significance the peculiar ritual had, but the theory that the bones are evidence of a cult performing some king of ceremony or other act with religious or even demonic significance can certainly not be ruled out.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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