October 9th, 2009 12:30 EST
Mystery of the Six Towers [9,650 B.C.]
History of War, The Dawning, Part 1
In the History of War [Part 2], we discussed the rarity of round towers prior to the Byzantine Empire. 
Not long ago, Sumerians were thought to be the first great fortification builders. For example, a timeline mentions the city of Uruk [Sumerian] as being the first undisputed example of [a] fortified city " in 2,700 B.C.  Almost 6,000 years prior to that, a community had constructed five round towers, and it was fairly close to Sumer. The five Neolithic towers were carbon dated back to 9,650 B.C. That makes them the oldest known towers on earth, and they are round. Six thousand years later, Sumerians seemed not to appreciate round towers. Apparently Israelites saw the value of round towers [and a few other places] but none of the future empires for thousands of years -- not even the majority of Roman architects. Those five round towers were constructed in a pre-ceramic Neolithic community [and that means old "].
For the sake of convenience, I`ll start using a few nicknames: the Five Towers", the Five Tower Dig ", and the Round Tower People who had lived in the Five Tower community. Since it was organized by Polish archaeologists from the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the Warsaw University in Tell Qaramel, Syria, I guess it should be called something more complicated and hard to remember, but let`s keep it simple and memorable. [What if they find more towers in Tell Qaramel? Tell Qaramel Towers I guess.] The dig is located roughly fifteen miles north of Aleppo [25 km] and forty miles south of the Taurus Mountains [65 km].
This was a major find in more than one way. The Round Tower People started off like most every other Stone Age culture in the world: they began as hunter-gatherers. But this was no ordinary place. By 9,500 B.C., they had cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats -- and they grew crops. The Five Towers became the most advanced community known at that time. So far, the Five Tower Dig has unearthed over 300 Neolithic artifacts. That is more than all similar artifacts in the entire Near East. This is a sign of concentrated prosperity.
The Round Tower People must have had some pretty sharp minds in their midst. Their artwork was also ahead of its time and yes -- they kept weapons. In fact, archaeologists found a large flint Jericho-type " axe; it was imported from somewhere near that city. They fletched their own arrows and kept an arrow shaft straightened.
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Prof. Ryszard F. Mazurowski, who heads the digs, is convinced that this was the model of farming that inspired the Old World. He believes that this culture`s farming methods drifted through Anatolia and on up to Poland by the sixth millennium. They also had on angers -- wild asses. These beasts were important for trade.
Some of the people were decapitated after death. Their bodies were buried separately, and their heads were buried nearby. [This burial practice was common in the Neolithic Middle East.] Some bodies were buried under their homes. The remains were put in the embryonic position; Mazurowski thinks that might be a clue that they believed in reincarnation. Some of the wild asses were also buried like humans with their heads decapitated.
They had two buildings which were presumably temples. Bodies were buried near the older temple ". They kept crescent shaped stone benches next to an alter of white lime mass. They also burned a fire and roasted meat on a hearth [supposedly for sacrifices]. It could have been a primitive great hall for all we know.
One mud structure showed little sign of activity. Inside, the Round Tower People kept a stone bucranium [or stone carving "]. It looked like a buffalo skull with long horns. They carved a cave in one of the carving`s ends, where they inserted five natural bucrania -- one into another " each with an 80 cm horn span ". [That would be about thirteen feet of natural bucrania ", a little less than three feet long each.]
Their artwork revealed something else -- the depiction of a creature part octopus and part woman. Not only was it creepy, these inland people must have known what an octopus looks like. They also depicted sea shells and turtles. This means they knew about the sea either from trade, travel, or both.
The Round Tower People began this community around 10,700 B.C. They constructed the first known tower over a thousand years later. 
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There was a sixth round tower later constructed in Jericho dated at 8000-7000 B.C. The Neolithic tower of Jericho was a shocker in itself because it was discovered prior to the Five Tower Dig. The Round Tower of Jericho may prove that Jericho is much older than first thought, possibly the oldest city in the world. Bible literalists are enjoying this discovery while atheists are annoyed. Here`s why: In Gen. 4:17, Gen. 5:22, and Gen. 10:6 -- Cain`s descendents were builders and instructors of metal working. Enoch built a city. Canaan built Jericho.
Scientists tried to question Kathleen Kenyon`s carbon dating of the tower, but that seems to have quieted down now. I suspect it jolted archaeologists so harshly that when the Five Round Towers were discovered, they were still numb from the Jericho Tower. But atheists still have plenty in the Book of Genesis to question [especially prior to Abraham].
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Early round tower study now takes us to a pair of islands in the Mediterranean Sea -- Sardinia and Napoleon`s island of Corsica. The two islands are west of Italy and south of France.
Both islands have round towers that are called nuraghi ". Some nuraghi were constructed as early as 2,000 B.C. Ancient Sardinia built 7,000 of these round towers. [They seemed to like round towers almost as much as I do.] Some clusters of towers were designed to have inner court yards. Most were more scattered, not centrally planned for cohesive defense. They appear to be the result of individual initiative.
Two researchers examined 452 of the round nuraghi towers. They concluded that the door always faced the sunrise. The windows were planned out for particular solar, lunar, and stellar alignments. Light ray patterns were sometimes carefully planned, such as with the Nuraghe Aiga di Abbasanta. Some windows, however, were arrow slits.
There are some parallels between Sardinia`s round towers and the Five Towers. One is the Nuraghe Albucciu which was built into natural stones where niches were carved out. That could be a link with the bucranium cave of the Five Tower Dig in Tell Qaramel. Another less distinctive parallel is the oval tower of Tempietto Malchittu where they made sacrifices. A third possible parallel was their bull artifacts, somewhat similar to the buffalo image found at the Five Towers. Since the Round Tower People knew of the sea, it makes me wonder.
The round towers of Sardinia were skillfully crafted. They needed no grout, instead relying on perfectly fitting stones to keep them water-tight. They did not waste their efforts though, and put greater emphasis on protection from rain coming down. Thus, their workmanship was not as precise down low. Many had spiral stairwells, and some had clever speaking-niches: sometimes these communicate with each other by means of shafts or acoustic channels within the walls ". High ground was not important to these builders. It appears they factored in where they worked and traded. 
I personally suspect that the nuraghic culture believed in the old adage: walls make for good neighbors. Towers are even better. Furthermore, a tower can achieve more than one goal at a time -- clearly indicated with these. Yes, walls and towers make for good neighbors, but more important than that is having neighbors who respect each others` property and religion. Something was about to happen that would jolt this island.
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According to one source, the sea level rose three meters [nine feet] by1200 B.C. along the Sardinia shoreline. [Other sources also mention the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea levels rising back then.] This might explain why there was so much violence along the Mediterranean Sea during this time [and the Aegean]. The shore dwellers found themselves displaced; the People of the Sea grew restless. Sardinia was no exception. Archaeologists have found signs of their handiwork in faraway lands.
A settlement in the Philistine area [called El-Ahwat] had strange corridors and false domes. Researchers believe the builders understood the ways of nuraghic Sardinia. Even in far Iberia, people built a system of signaling fortresses similar to the Sardinian one ". Sardinian mercenaries sold their services to Egypt. The Egyptians seemed to have thought highly of them. Sardinians at the time wielded swords, and Egyptian artists portrayed those new " weapons as effective in battle [new to Egypt apparently]. That could explain how Sardinia might have gained a foothold in Philistine. That might also help explain what happened next.
The Island of Sardinia ended up in a vicious war. Natives of the island started building complex and fortified Nuraghes, demonstrating the enduring and profound fight for the land in this area ". The fighting must have largely been tower sieges. It would have been a brutal time of battering rams, towers being starved out, and desperate sorties.
Just like the Israelites, it appears that the natives of Sardinia might have been at war with the Philistines. Artifacts in Sardinia after 1,000 B.C. reveal worship of a god that must have been Philistine -- Sardus Pater. Sardus Pater was portrayed with Philistine clothing and a Philistine helmet. Around this time, parts of Sardinia suffered a drastic shift in masonry. Rather than brilliantly crafted towers, people began to construct crude stone houses. The new masons took the stone from towers.  That makes me conclude that the mysterious tower builders were defeated in those areas. I am left wondering if the Philistines had gotten even with Sardinia. But there is also plenty of archaeological evidence to back up a Phoenician presence.
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Whatever the new conquerors were when they arrived, they became known as Phoenicians. DNA testing is beginning to clear some of these questions up, so please bear in mind that the following speculation could become outdated in a few years or so.
Many believe that the displaced people of Knossos [Crete] were a large part of the invasion into Egypt. For them, there was no home to go to. When they lost, they pleaded to Ramses for a place to live. He made them colonize areas around Gaza, which probably made the Canaanites and Phoenicians feel crowded. Thus did the lost people of Knossos become Philistines [possibly a mixture of other displaced people too]. Common speculation also suspects that the Phoenicians admired Minoan [Crete] nautical skills and knowledge about trade, so there were opportunities as well as problems. [Phoenicians strike me as practical in many ways.] Some of the best and brightest from Knossos [regarding the sea] must have moved into Phoenician cities.
My personal speculation is that the Phoenicians probably decided to help the Philistines achieve revenge in Sardinia [for Sardinians selling their swords to Egypt], and at the same time, relieve the pressure of so many newcomers to one place at once. Also bear in mind; it appears that some of the people of Sardinia moved to Philistine. That may either have been Sardinian exiles who would not have minded revenge against their own native island, or it could have been planned by Egypt to have their helpful mercenaries close at hand in case the Philistines turned on them again. [Possibly both.]
If my speculation is correct, then the Philistines would have fought in Sardinia as though their lives depended on it. They were desperate for a new home.
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By 500 B.C., the nuraghic culture flickered out and they ceased building any more towers. The Phoenicians had taken over. 
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More round towers were found in ancient Scotland called brochs. They looked somewhat wizardly with their conical roofs. Researchers have been wondering about their purpose. Were they an idea first brought by foreign invaders or colonists? Now it is generally believed that the native Highlanders developed the roundhouse tradition themselves. England had circular houses a thousand years before the first Highlander broch. The first round broch towers were wooden, and their ring posts can only be detected through aerial photographs. In the uplands of north and west Scotland, wood is scarce, and they took to using stone.
The broch of Bu, Orkney was radiocarbon dated somewhere from the 7th to the late 8th century B.C. Another roundhouse was the broch of Crosskirk in Caithness -- dated back to 8th century B.C. People lived in that broch for a thousand years.
These roundhouse towers were not very tall at first, but they were quite thick. Highland winters can get rather nippy, so they probably kept their livestock inside the brochs to share warmth [as can be seen in the movie, Rob Roy].  Later brochs were taller, ranging from 30 to 50 feet high. 
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Researchers have so far found 120 round Irish towers, some as early as the 8th Century A.D. They tapered inward. The earlier towers had triangular tops by leaning two large stones against each other. Later they had conical roofs. Doors and windows also narrowed toward the top, keeping in harmony with the narrowing of the wall -- a parallel with ancient Egyptian architecture. These were more impressive than the Scottish brochs [albeit generally not as ancient]. Irish round towers ranged from 60 feet high to Kilcullen Tower`s height of 132 feet. [Even the Byzantines would have taken notice of that one.]
Just like most early round towers, researchers have puzzled over what they were for. Written in stone, the builders professed themselves to be Christian. Many Irish round towers are built alongside a church, and they are always near a church. But the concept of European round towers predates Christianity, built by many prehistoric races in different parts of Europe. 
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Lastly, let us ponder the Towers of Silence -- round towers the Zoroastrians and Parsis constructed. Both religions, by the way, still exist [ Parsi " stands for Persian "]. If they are connected with the Neolithic Round Tower People, the Zoroastrians and Parsis took up a very different burial ceremony. They use their round towers to place their dead. They let the vultures feed on the carcasses. This is a different way of looking at things than burial of someone in the embryonic position. But early Towers of Silence were constructed in Iran, which makes me wonder if there is a connection.
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Conclusion: If there is a connection between the Round Tower People and the other ancient places, we may find out within our lifetimes. Any possible connection between them is difficult to find right now, but DNA testing keeps advancing. Researchers are using it in a greater variety of ways, along with more advanced mathematical calculations. For now, there is little need for anyone to draw any definite conclusions. [Forming a hypothesis will help researchers decide where to focus their attention, so such lines of thought are not as "wasteful" as people might think.]
Mystery can ensnare us all. When it comes to round towers, there is a special place in my heart. Ancient empires relied on square towers. Mainly in obscure places were round towers constructed. Their mysteries awaken something, a subliminal awareness. Round towers with their conical roofs will forever brood atop high mountain peaks in the realm of dreams.
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History of War, The Dawning, Part 1
History of War [Part 2] Round Towers, the Byzantines, and Bohemond
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 Excellent summary of Rome, lead poisoning, and the decline:
 [primary Five Towers source] http://www.eduskrypt.pl/yet_another_sensational_discovery_by_polish_archaeologists_in_syria-info-6775.html
 [Sardinia round towers] http://www.philipcoppens.com/nuraghe.html
 [brochs] http://www.odysseyadventures.ca/articles/brochs/brochs_roundhouse.htm
 [Round towers in Samaria] http://www.oldandsold.com/articles22/architecture-9.shtml#
-- Note that I do not intend to discredit the website`s handy timeline, which was strictly referring to walled cities -- not towers. I am simply trying to create context for the scholarly upheaval antiquarians are now experiencing. If anyone gets the wrong idea, I apologize in advance.
 [main source for Byzantine Fortifications/History] http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/medieval/articles/citadelatthegate.aspx
 Two sources regarding Bohemund [aka Bohemond]
The Crusades by Harold Lamb [written in 1930]
 History of War [Part 2] Round Towers, the Byzantines, and Bohemond