The Jaredites Came From Gobekli Tepe, 10,000 Years Ago

One thing that critics claim is evidence of the Book of Mormon being a forgery is the story of the Jaredites coming from the Tower of Babel. According to Biblical scholars, the Old Testament Tower of Babel story was not written until the 6th or 5th century BC—or in other words: after Lehi was said to have left Jerusalem in 600 BC—so how in the world could the story be written on the brass plates? Also, they say the whole story is a myth anyway and was based on a ziggurat built by the Babylonians around 800 BC—much later than the assumed departure date of the Jaredites (~2600 BC).

But if the Book of Mormon is true, then there must be an alternate explanation for the Jaredites. Right? There has to be something to explain how this account appeared in the records of a people that left the Old World after 600 BC. And this leads me to ask the question: 

Were the Jaredites farther back in history than we think, and was their “great tower” not based on a ziggurat at all? Is the Tower of Babel myth based on an actual temple built several thousand years ago? 

I do believe that the Book of Mormon is true, that the Jaredites were a real group of people, and that their story actually began at a great tower somewhere. So let’s get into this and explore the possibilities. To do this, I have come up with a fledgling hypothesis–and it may be total garbage–you decide. But I think this theory can help explain many peculiar things about the Book of Ether, including how American elephants were present during Jaredite times (that’s one of my favorite ones, at least). Now, remember—this is just a hypothesis. Here it is: 

The Jaredites came not from the mythical “tower of Babel” around 2600 BC, but from the historical Gobekli Tepe between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago (10,000-8,000 BC). 

In this post, I will provide 37 points to support this hypothesis. Of course, it’s all speculation, so take it with a grain of salt; but here is my case that the Jaredites are far more ancient than we think. (And FYI, ka means “thousand years ago”).

1. “Babel” in the Book of Mormon

Although the presence of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Mormon would definitely be a problem, the truth is that the name “Tower of Babel” never actually appears in the Book of Mormon. The place from whence the Jaredites came is only referred to as “the great tower” or “the tower” (Mosiah 28:17, Hel. 6:28, Ether 1:3-5, 33). The word Babel is never used once. Also, a date for the departure of the Jaredites is never given. These facts open up the possibility that 1) the “great tower” was an earlier building, independent of the supposed ziggurat upon which the Tower of Babel myth was based; and 2) that the Jaredites may have left the Old World much, much earlier than 2600 BC. 

2. The time span from Jared to Coriantumr is unknown

The book of Ether is usually assumed to cover a period of around 2,000 years (about twice that of the Nephite history). In the book’s long included list of kings, there are four instances where a father-to-son relationship is not specified, but rather the equivocal term “descendant” is used. Some time after a devastating famine, a “descendant of Heth” named Shez picks up the pieces and establishes a kingdom (Ether 10:1-2). “Many years” after Riplakish is killed and his posterity driven out of the land, Morianton, “a descendant of Riplakish,” rises to power (Ether 10:9). Later, Aaron, “a descendant” of a different Heth, appears on the record (see Ether 1:16, 10:31). And finally Ethem, a descendant of the wicked king Ahah, “obtain[s] the kingdom” (Ether 11:10-11). While we are given some conflicting information about some of these relationships above (i.e. some instances say “son” in one place, but “descendant” in another), it’s because of these discrepancies that we cannot know for certain how much time passed between ancestor and descendant or supposed father and son. For at least some of these transitions, it could have been hundreds, if not thousands of years. And remember that in the beginning of the book of Ether, Moroni says, “I give not the full account, but a part of the account I give, from the tower down until they were destroyed” (Ether 1:5); and at the conclusion he says, “[T]he hundredth part [of Ether’s record] I have not written” (Ether 15:33), admitting that he was doing some very heavy abridging to a very large story. Therefore, an 8,000-BC Jaredite voyage very well could be accommodated by our Book of Mormon text.

3. Gobekli Tepe was a temple, first one that we know

Built by hunter-gatherers around 10,000 years ago in modern Turkey, Gobekli Tepe has been identified as the first temple ever built. I remember learning in seminary/Sunday school that the Tower of Babel wasn’t so much a tower tall enough to reach heaven, as it was an unauthorized temple intended to perform saving ceremonies. A close reading of Genesis reveals that there were no temples mentioned being built from the dawn of creation until the descendants of Noah supposedly decided to get together and build a tower to get to heaven. Thus Gobekli Tepe, if indeed it really was the first temple ever built, seems to fit the bill of a tower or temple constructed with the purpose of reaching celestial heights—be it authorized by God or not. Jared, his brother, and their families and friends very well could have been a group of hunter-gatherers that worshiped at this temple around 10,000-12,000 years ago.

Scientists have speculated that the ancient temple also served as a place for hunter-gatherers to, as one writer put it, “meet up, trade information, exchange goods, find marriage partners, share life hacks and make friends who could help out later in a pinch.” This is especially interesting considering Jared and his brother were particularly concerned for “their friends” at the great tower, knowing the Lord was going to confound their language and scatter them around the earth (see Ether 1:36-38).

4. Gobekli Tepe gave rise to all nations

The title page of the Book of Mormon gives a reason for the inclusion of the Book of Ether in Mormon’s abridgement: “[T]o show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; … And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.” Although the term “remnant” here may refer only to the post-Nephite-destruction Lamanites–who likely had some Jaredite ancestors–it could be referring to the other branches of the House of Israel scattered all over the globe (see 2 Nephi 21:11-12). While these other Gentiles and Israelite tribes probably didn’t have any Jaredite ancestry, they likely did descend from people present at Gobekli Tepe, since religion, agriculture, and possibly civilization seemed to originate there. If God mercifully led the Jaredites away from the great tower, could He not have “manifest[ed] himself” to other small groups and led them away from it also? And couldn’t these other groups have become the founders of most if not “all nations” of the earth? As the title page implies, the Book of Ether is important because it may be proof that the Lord was intimately involved in the lives of our ancestors who lived over 10,000 years ago–something which we often find hard to believe when we subscribe to the idea that Adam was created in 4,000 BC. It’s beautiful to me to think that the purpose of the book of Ether appearing in the Book of Mormon could be to tell every nation that the God they worship is Jesus Christ, and that He showed Himself to their ancestors thousands of years ago.

According to this graphic, the ancestor of many of the world’s languages can be traced back to Anatolia, 9+ ka.

5. Languages diverged way before 2600 BC

The idea that all people on earth spoke the same language in 2600 BC is frankly ridiculous–this is a big reason why the Tower of Babel is labeled a myth. If you go back to 8,000 or 10,000 BC however, then it’s definitely more plausible. I did find one source that said languages diverged around 10-15 ka, which overlaps with Gobekli Tepe; and one source even said that the Indo-European languages originated in Anatolia, where Gobekli Tepe resides. But still there would have been human populations all over the world by 10 ka that couldn’t have communicated with the hunter-gatherers in Anatolia, since language seems to have evolved in humans around 50-150 ka. One source says “the Indo-European branch of languages can be traced both to Anatolia and to a timeframe which overlaps with the aceramic Neolithic era.” Another source identifies the ancestor of many languages to be in Anatolia around 9 ka, so it is possible that many of the world’s languages can trace their origins to the temple at Gobekli Tepe. Therefore, the idea of confounding languages and scattering people from “the great tower” could actually work if said tower was Gobekli Tepe–but it doesn’t work so well if it was a ziggurat in 2600 BC. 

But even still, the Book of Mormon actually never says that all the people in the world or at the great tower spoke the same language. It never says that languages originated there. All it says is that “the Lord confounded the language of the people” and “the people were scattered” (Ether 1:33). Whatever “confounding” means here, thinking of the Jaredites as leaving from a real Gobekli Tepe around 10,000 years ago, when modes of human communication were still developing, works far better than leaving from a mythical Tower of Babel 4,200 years ago.

6. Gobekli Tepe symbols appear in Olmec art (and other places in the Americas)

On at least one of the massive stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe are mysterious carvings that look somewhat like handbags. A similar handbag carving has been found in Olmec stone art in La Venta, Mexico that dates to somewhere between 1200-400 BC. The Olmecs have long been considered to be strong candidates for the Jaredites. But now we have to wonder, how did a symbol from the 10-12 thousand year-old temple in Turkey end up in 3000-year-old Olmec art in Mexico?

In addition to this, totem poles in North America resemble totem poles fashioned at Gobekli Tepe; and the hands carved onto the large statues on Easter Island contain similarities to the hands carved on the T-shaped pillars at Gobekli Tepe. If the Jaredites are from Gobekli Tepe, this could help explain the presence and persistence of these ancient elements far from the source in space and time.   

“Global extent of glaciation during the Last Glacial Maximum during the Late Pleistocene, ca. 21,000 ybp, … (from Scotese 2013).” 

7. Land where no man had gone before

The book of Ether records the Lord commanding the Jaredites “that they should go forth into the wilderness, … into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). Where they went is still a mystery, but consider this: The world’s population is estimated to have been around 5 million in 8000 BC, compared to somewhere around 27-72 million in 2000 BC. If the Jaredites truly ventured into a “quarter” of the earth where no human being had yet explored, finding such a place would surely have been easier in 8000 BC than in 2600 BC. And when you recall that large swaths of land (around 32%) had literally been underneath sometimes-mile-thick glaciers during the Ice Age and therefore unfit for human habitation until the glaciers began to retreat in earnest (around 11.7 ka), it seems more likely that the Jaredites’ journey took place closer to the end of the Ice Age than to a post-civilization 2600 BC.

Google Earth image with Gobekli Tepe and possible Abrahamic sites marked. This is quite far north from the largely-accepted Babylonian sites for the Tower of Babel and Ur. The image spans about 198 km from left to right.

8. Sites associated with Abraham are found near Gobekli Tepe

Scholars have identified a region in southern Turkey as a strong candidate for the land called Olishem in the Book of Abraham (Abr. 1:10)–the name Ulisum has been found in ancient texts in Olum Hoyuk, Turkey. Our scriptures suggest that Olishem must have been close to Ur, Abraham’s hometown. Urfa, also in Turkey, is a traditional site for Abraham’s Ur, and is not too far from where Ulisum could have been. Also in Turkey is the city Harran, believed by many to be the place “Haran” named by Father Abraham in Abr. 2:4. If these places are indeed what’s being described in the Book of Abraham, then Olishem, Ur, and Haran all lie in southern Turkey, and are all likely within about 100 miles of Gobekli Tepe. This may be coincidence, but it could also be a clue to the true location of the great tower. Some have suggested that Nimrod also founded Ur. If Nimrod established Ur, built the great tower, and had a valley named after him just north of the tower (Ether 2:1), then it’s likely that Ur is also close to the tower. And indeed, Urfa is about 8 miles from Gobekli Tepe.

Lots of people would disagree with this geography, and want to instead put Ur and the Tower of Babel much further south, in Iraq. As far as I can tell (from my super limited understanding), it seems like the only reason everyone wants Ur to be in Iraq is because they think the Tower of Babel has to be in Babylonia. But it makes so much more sense if Ur, Olishem, and Haran were closer to the original great tower, Gobekli Tepe.

9. Nimrod is called a mighty hunter(-gatherer)

According to Jewish tradition, the Biblical character Nimrod was associated with the Tower of Babel–perhaps even its creator. The book of Ether mentions Nimrod, calling him a “mighty hunter” and the namesake of a nearby valley (Ether 2:1). While there have been mighty hunters throughout all stages of human history, at the time of the building of Gobekli Tepe around 10,000 BC until its abandonment close to 8,000 BC, all people were hunter-gatherers. All people were hunters, as Nimrod was. This was just at the beginning of the birth of agriculture and civilization, so there weren’t many other options. Perhaps Nimrod’s title is a clue to the time period in which “the great tower” was built (Mosiah 28:17). Could it have been Nimrod, the “mighty” hunter-gatherer, who took the lead among the hunter-gatherers to construct the first temple of the world, Gobekli Tepe? 

10. Valley of Nimrod

Gobekli Tepe is on a mountaintop overlooking a valley. When the temple was built, this valley would have been very lush, with all sorts of wildlife and game. This spot would have attracted hordes of hunter-gatherer groups to find food. The Lord tells the brother of Jared to leave the great tower and go north into the valley of Nimrod (Ether 2:1). Nimrod, as a mighty hunter, would have found much success hunting in the landscape around Gobekli Tepe. And indeed there is a valley immediately to the north of the world’s first temple (fun fact: Gobekli Tepe is aligned true north, and is the oldest known megalithic structure to be so)

“Illustration depicting an Ice Age woman carrying a child on the shores of the ancient Lake Otero” in New Mexico, around 10,000, based on recently discovered human and mammoth footprints, by Karen Carr. Could the living beings who made these footprints have been Jaredites and the “elephants” they possibly found useful for food?

11. Elephants among the Jaredites

Although there is evidence for elephant relatives surviving until around 2000 BC on a remote Russian island, there is definitely evidence for mammoths and mastodons in the Americas before 10,000 years ago. According to the fossil record, proboscideans (elephants) were much more abundant in America 10 ka than 4.5 ka, and most likely the bulk of them went extinct around 10.9-11.5 ka. Thus, the Jaredites finding them “especially” “useful” could indicate a much older departure date from the great tower than 2600 BC (Ether 9:18-19). If the Jaredite story is true, then to comply with known fossils in America, it probably had to have started around 10,000 years ago or earlier. 

12. The extinction of horses

Mainstream science asserts that horses in North America went extinct around 7,600 years ago (5,600 BC). Ether 9:19 claims that the Jaredites lived alongside horses in the promised land. If the Jaredites arrived in the New World, not in 2600 BC as the popular model goes, but around 8,000 BC, then they would have been there at the same time as horses. A later date for the Jaredites would have to explain how this coexistence occurred thousands of years after horses were supposed to have been extinct. A Gobekli-Jaredite time-frame puts the Jaredites closer to the heyday of wild horses in America (pun intended), and is therefore more likely.

Illustration of a scene that may have occurred around 11,000 years ago, based on fossilized human and giant sloth footprints discovered in New Mexico. Could these humans have been Jaredites hungry for curelom/cumom? 

13. The extinction of giant sloths and other things

The generally accepted extinction dates for the following North American megafauna are: mastodon (10-11 ka), Cuvieronius (a gomphothere–a type of proboscidean) (13.4 ka), and giant sloth (10 ka). All of these animals were hunted by humans and have been proposed as possible candidates for the mysterious yet “useful” “cureloms and cumoms” mentioned in Ether 9:19. According to scientists, none of these megafauna survived much after 10 ka. If the actual cureloms and cumoms are indeed among these animals listed here, then the Jaredites would have to have been in the Americas around or before 10 ka to find them abundant and useful. While small populations of these creatures may have survived beyond 2600 BC, a successful Jaredite-megafauna coexistence is way more likely in 8,000 BC.

The Pleistocene North American megafauna were comparable to Africa’s current biodiversity (but more magnificent)–complete with lions, cheetahs, hyenas, dire wolves, giant bears, elephants, giant sloths, giant bison, giant elk, giant beavers, etc. These creatures were impressive and abundant–more impressive, say some, than probably any other region on earth at the time or now. Considering that, and thinking around 10 ka, it makes much more sense when the Lord promises to take the Jaredites to “a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42, 2:7, 9:17-20). After the extinction of the megafauna in North America, things began to look mostly like they do today: void of elephants, giant things, and lions. We read of a great “dearth” and destruction upon the land in the days of Heth, which kills off many “beasts” and nearly annihilates the people for want of food (see Ether 9:30-35). Could this be describing part of the megafauna extinction around 10,000 years ago? I don’t know, but viewing the beginnings of the Jaredite story in an older time period makes the Lord’s promise of a land better than all others even more powerful, in my opinion.

14. The Basis for Noah’s Flood may have happened way earlier than we think

Around 12,800 years ago, an extraterrestrial body struck the earth in the northern ice sheets, causing extensive wildfires and glacial flooding across North America, as well as massive sea level rise all over the world. And then the planet went through a 1,200-year transition period following that with more megafloods and climate change. Considering that Joseph Smith taught that Adam and his descendants lived in North America, and that Noah may have lived in or near the Carolinas, this impactor may have been what caused Noah’s flood—just thousands of years earlier than the traditional 2348 BC. If Noah’s flood happened 11,600-12,800 years ago, then it’s reasonable that the basis for the Tower of Babel myth happened 10-12 thousand years ago. In fact, there are depictions of the very same catastrophic comet strike 12.8 ka on pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe. Apparently, the people there found the impact event to be a very significant part of their history. Wouldn’t have the people at the Tower of Babel been aware of their ancestor Noah and the great flood that brought him to a new land? It would’ve been a major event in their family history. (I’ll be writing a post about this soon–we like to talk about Noah’s flood on this blog)

Illustration of what Gobekli Tepe may have looked like while it was under construction:

15. Tower could mean Hill 

In Hebrew, the word for tower could also be used for hill. So when Mormon says that the Jaredites came from the great tower, it could conceivably mean that they came from the great hill. Or when we’re told that the people wanted to build a tower to get to heaven, perhaps it’s referring to a hill they wanted to use to touch the starry night sky (something that has been a suggested behavior for ancient hunter-gatherers). The name Gobekli Tepe actually translates to “pot-belly hill,” and indeed the ancient structure is situated on top of a hill or mountain, and parts of it may even be a man-made hill. Nowadays, it’s a giant mound formed of dirt, rocks, and garbage deposited there as the temple was being mysteriously buried around 10,000 years ago. So, according to the Hebrew, an actual super-tall tower for “the great tower” isn’t a requirement, because a simple hill used for great things could suffice–such was Gobekli Tepe. 

16. Why not use sails?

The first evidence for watercraft with sails appears in Egypt around 3300 BC. This of course, predates a Jaredite departure date of 2600 BC by centuries. However, it is clear from Ether that the Jaredites built boats that had no sails. They were at the mercy of the waves, winds, and currents as they crossed the “great deep” to the promised land. If the Jaredites left the great tower close to 8,000 BC or earlier, they likely wouldn’t have had the technology to build boats with sails, since nobody else in the world had the technology either. While this lack of sails could have been a stylistic choice, or a necessity due to circumstance, it is very possible that the Jaredites used no sails in their journey precisely because sails hadn’t been invented yet. 

17. Agriculture in America kicked off at around 8,000 BC (in Mexico)

Agriculture in the Americas first took off around 7,000-9,000 BC in Mexico. Agriculture in the Fertile Crescent began around the same time. The Jaredites are widely believed to have landed in (or at least occupied at some point) Mexico, and soon after their arrival we’re told they “began to till the earth” (Ether 6:13). While the rise of agriculture in Mexico immediately following Gobekli Tepe’s abandonment may be a pure coincidence, it also may be an indicator that the Jaredites came from the great tower (where agriculture originated) around 8,000 BC.

18. Greatest nation ever

The Lord promises the brother of Jared that He will make of the Jaredites the greatest nation on earth (Ether 1:43). What this means exactly is open for interpretation. It could mean simply that the Jaredites would have many descendants. This of course, would be much easier to accomplish if the brother of Jared lived 10 ka rather than 4.5 ka.

19. Tower of Babel’s fate

Some traditions hold that after the people were scattered, the Tower of Babel was destroyed by a strong wind; and the Jaredites experience lots of forceful wind during their sojourn (Ether 2:24, 6:5). Gobekli Tepe was mysteriously and intentionally buried, and then abandoned. We don’t know why, but some speculate the temple was buried because the gods worshiped there fell out of vogue or the temple became “considered a taboo place”. Was it a strong wind that also helped to bury it? Nobody knows.

20. The domestication of goats and sheep

Goats were thought to first be domesticated in Turkey around 10,000 years ago. In fact, one of the candidate sights for earliest goat domestication is the Euphrates river valley at Nevali Çori, just about an hour’s car ride away from Gobekli Tepe. Evidence for domesticated sheep at least 9,500 years ago has been discovered at a site in–you guessed it–Turkey. Although whatever made up the “flocks and herds,” “beast[s]” and “animal[s]” the Jaredites took with them is not explicitly named in the beginning of the narrative, goats and sheep are mentioned much later in Ether 9:18. This does not necessarily mean that the Jaredites brought these animals with them overseas, but coming from 8,000-BC Anatolia, it is possible that the Jaredites could have had domesticated goats and sheep, or at least early forms of these creatures in the beginning stages of domestication. 

21. The domestication of honey bees

The bees mentioned in Ether are a big deal because that’s where we get the word deseret (think Deseret Book or the Deseret News). The Jaredites were beekeepers to some extent (Ether 2:3). Archaeologists believe that bees were domesticated around 9,000 years ago in Turkey. Gobekli Tepe, if you remember, is also in Turkey. If the Jaredites left Gobekli Tepe as late as 10,000 years ago, they would have been a bit early for the 9,000-year mark for domesticated bees, but it’s still not impossible that they were among the first peoples to “carry with them swarms of bees” for honey on the go (Ether 2:3). To a 10th or 8th-millenium-BC hunter-gatherer, honey was a delicacy, and the domestication of bees didn’t happen overnight. There had to have been a history and a certain gradualness to it. In fact, honey was collected by humans at least 25 ka, and bees could have been tamed with smoke as early as 120 ka. One writer observed: “Given that the close association between human beings and honey bees dates back to the onset of agriculture, it is likely that honey bees, along with sheep and goats, were among the first creatures to start moving down a path toward domestication when agriculture emerged and spread out of Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent about 10,000 years ago.” Or in other words: it’s likely that honey bees were among the first creatures to be domesticated when people were leaving the “great tower” at Gobekli Tepe.

22. The domestication of cattle

Scientists believe that cattle were first domesticated around 10,500 years ago in the Middle East. If the Jaredites left Gobekli Tepe around that time, they could have had access to these beasts. However, we are not told explicitly that the first Jaredite party had cattle, only that their descendants had “cattle” among them in the promised land (Ether 9:18). On the other hand, it is possible that the cattle here refers to bison, which belong to the same family (Bovidae) as the cattle we think of today. This especially could have been an extinct giant bison, Bison antiquus, that roamed the plains of America and was hunted by humans around 10,000 years ago. 

23. The domestication of plants

Ether records the journeying Jaredites carrying with them “all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3). 10,000 years ago, Gobekli Tepe was surrounded by a fertile valley full of wild fruit and nut trees, and wild grains. One of the first grains ever domesticated was einkorn, which you can even still buy today for a premium to bake with. Einkorn, of course, was first domesticated at or around Gobekli Tepe. Besides this grain, they’ve also found evidence of emmer, barley, pistachios, and almonds at the site. Perhaps the Jaredites “gathered” some wild einkorn seeds or almonds on their way out of town (see Ether 2:1-3). 

24. The Jaredites had to catch their animals and find their seeds

Notice that the Jaredites had to first “gather” their flocks and “the seed of the earth”, and had to set traps to “catch fowls” and fish, “and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land” before they could begin their journey, perhaps suggesting they were in a transition phase between hunter-gatherer and farmer (Ether 1:41, 2:1-3). With Gobekli Tepe seemingly being the place where agriculture began, it makes sense the Jaredites would be headed that route as well. 

Also, we know that the land surrounding Gobekli Tepe in its prime was extremely fertile, and would have had all sorts of edible plants and game for humans to enjoy. Ether 2:3-4 implies that the area arround this great tower was replete with wild things to eat; therefore adding a depth of support to the Gobekli-Jaredite hypothesis.

25. Jaredite language would be changed to hide what’s in the brother of Jared’s vision

10,000 years ago, written language wasn’t yet a thing. Scientists say it didn’t appear until around 5,000 years ago. However, a glyph on the walls of Gobekli Tepe has been linked to a symbol found in later Anatolian cultures to mean “God”; and we are still unsure what the animals and T-shaped pillars were meant to represent. After appearing to the brother of Jared, the Lord tells him to write the things he has seen “in a language that they cannot be read” (Ether 3:22). Whether this was to be in an unknown written language, or in glyphs, or in pictograms, or in some sort of symbolic drawings (such as prehistoric cave art), we do not know. But even as far back as Gobekli Tepe, people were carving symbols that had meaning; and now those meanings are lost. Perhaps it was the same for the brother of Jared. And how much easier would it be for his writings to be undecipherable 10,000 years later rather than 4,500 years later (had he lived in 2600 BC)? Indeed, if the brother of Jared wrote his vision in pictures, one would probably need seer stones and divine help to interpret it, such as the ones the Lord provided for that very purpose (Ether 3:24).

26. Sumerian Names

Sumerian roots can be found in many Jaredite names–which is to be expected if the great tower was in Mesopotamia around 2600 BC. But since the Sumerian language emerged around 8,000 years after Gobekli Tepe, how could the Gobekli-Jaredite theory explain this? A glyph at Gobekli Tepe has been found to translate to be the word “God”, and the identical symbol occurs in the Luwian language. If the Jaredites came from Gobekli Tepe, it’s possible that they spoke an ancestor language to Luwian. While Sumerian doesn’t seem to descend from Luwian, is it at all possible that roots of the Gobekli language survived the millennia and made its way into Sumerian? I mean, these languages did have 8,000+ years to spread and evolve around the Anatolia-Mesopotamian region. It’s also possible that later migrations of Sumerians to the Americas could explain the Sumerian roots in Jaredite names. Do all the names in the Jaredite king list contain Sumerian roots, or does it seem to start after a certain point? 

Sketch of a T-shaped, human-like(?) pillar at Gobekli Tepe (pillars 18 and 31 in Building D look like this):

27. The Brother of Jared’s conception of God changed when he saw Him

In Ether 3, the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord, and falls down in fear. He explains that he “knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.” It makes you wonder what he expected the Lord to look like. From what I can gather, the hunter-gatherers who built Gobekli Tepe likely believed in a very different type of deity than we Latter-day Saints do. Being ancient hunter-gatherers, they probably believed that the gods were unembodied spirits that looked like animals (perhaps like the animals carved into the pillars at Gobekli Tepe); or that deities were giant, T-shaped, pillar-like humanoids with weird, blank, or bull-like faces (like the massive stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe). Interestingly, scientists have recently discovered that a symbol on the “belt” of one of these pillars actually means “God”. Klaus Schmidt, the lead archaeologist at Gobekli Tepe said, “[I]t is clear that the pillar statues … represented very powerful beings. If gods existed in the minds of Early Neolithic people, there is an overwhelming probability that the T-shape is the first known monumental depiction of gods.” 

Whatever these early peoples believed about deity, they probably didn’t believe that God was just like a man in proportion, with flesh and blood. Perhaps this is why the brother of Jared was so surprised when he saw the Lord–because as a hunter-gatherer who may have worshiped stone pillars at the first temple in the world, he wasn’t expecting a God to be so fleshy or so man-like. Perhaps this is why the Lord had to explain, “Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.” 

“The Brother of Jared Sees the Finger of the Lord (Brother of Jared Seeing the Finger of the Lord), by Arnold Friberg (62478); GAK 318; GAB 85; Primary manual 3-55; Ether 3:1–16”:

28. Jesus had never shown Himself to man before the brother of Jared

In Ether 3:15, the Lord tells the brother of Jared that never before had he shown himself unto man whom he had created. While this statement definitely could have been true in 2600 BC, it’s way more likely to have been true in 8000 BC. By 2600 BC, civilizations had already began popping up around the globe, and as each nation is supposed to have had its own prophets (see Alma 29:8), God-to-man theophanies are to be expected throughout history. But around 8,000-10,000 BC, hunter-gatherers were just beginning to start farming, and the world’s first temple had only recently been built. It is very possible that Jesus had not shown Himself to anyone until the brother of Jared around 10 ka.

29. Milk before meat

It appears to me that the Lord deals with the brother of Jared in very simple, almost primary-like terms. Yes, He reveals Himself and shows a graduate-degree-level vision of complete human history to the brother of Jared, but he treats him like a child. He keeps things simple, clear, and fundamental. He does not ask for burnt offerings, or for an Abrahamic-like covenant. He doesn’t task him with establishing a church or performing baptisms.  He merely tells him to pray, and to serve him upon the promised land. There’s no mention of a priesthood or religious rites. It’s just simple faith and repentance. What jumps out most to me is that the brother of Jared possibly forgets to pray for 4 years! While my seminary teacher tried to explain to us that it wasn’t that he had forgotten to pray, he just forgot to pray for his brethren, I tend to think he legit forgot to pray period. It could show how juvenile his faith was in this God he was only beginning to know and understand, and how his only previous encounters with religion may have been as an unsuspecting hunter-gatherer who worshiped static, faceless stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe. The brother of Jared didn’t even know that he had to pray often, much less daily, like you and I know, because he was just a beginner at this stuff. One scholar has even pointed out that it’s not clear that the Jaredites were even Christian. Taking all this into account, could it help support an ancient, 10 ka date for the Jaredite journey?

30. The brother of Jared’s Endowment

Some scholars have pointed out that the brother of Jared’s time upon the mountain, where he sees the Lord, resembles a temple endowment (see Ether 3). While this doesn’t necessarily explicitly support the Gobekli-Jaredite theory, I believe there are additional insights we can glean from this experience looking through a Gobekli lens. The brother of Jared was clearly religious and believing. Was this endowment event in Ether 3 a special treat for a righteous man who had recently been genuinely and naively worshiping T-shaped stone pillars at Gobekli Tepe? Obviously he couldn’t receive a real endowment in a fake temple from a monolithic god. But on a quiet, secluded mountain in the presence of Jesus Christ, he could. Food for thought.

31. Between 20 and 50 people in their Jaredite hunter-gatherer band

Scientists allege that a “highly mobile” group of hunter gatherers would consist of between 20 and 50 individuals. Ether recounts that the Jaredites arrived in the promised land with around “twenty and two souls”, not counting Jared, his brother, and their families (Ether 6:16). It is not clear how many people were in their group when they left the great tower, but it’s not unreasonable to assume their total numbers fit the typical hunter gatherer society and were between 20 and 50. And they would have had to have been “highly mobile” since they trekked from the Fertile Crescent all the way to the Americas. If the Jaredites did come from Gobekli Tepe, then they almost certainly were hunter gatherers. But coming from 2600-BC Mesopotamia, this would not have necessarily been the case.

Also, note that the first generation of Jaredites are never said to create a city. Even while they are at a fairly permanent stop at the beach, we’re told they “dwelt in tents … for the space of four years”–no houses or permanent structures are mentioned (Ether 2:13). And while they do “till the earth” in the promised land (Ether 6:13, 18), cities are not mentioned in the Jaredite record until the reign of Coriantum, at least 6 generations from Jared (Ether 9:23). Perhaps the Jaredites were more of a hunter-gatherer society for the first couple centuries in the Americas? That would be consistent behavior had they come from Gobekli Tepe.

32. Egalitarian until a king is chosen

Hunter-gatherer groups are notably egalitarian. They don’t necessarily have one leader. Everybody just kind of pitches in and works for the success of the tribe—man or woman. In Ether, we see that the Jaredites in the wilderness are remarkably egalitarian also. Yes, Jared requested his brother to pray for their family and friends. Yes, the brother of Jared goes “at the head of” the party into to the valley (Ether 1:42), spoke with Jesus face-to-face (Ether 3:20), and was tasked with building barges and obtaining light (Ether 2:16, 25). But mostly it was the Lord leading the little group from behind a cloud, showing them where to go next (Ether 2:4). It’s not until they reach the promised land, settle a bit, and Jared and his brother are old and about to die that they finally decide it’s time to select a leader (Ether 6:18-24). Could this egalitarian behavior be another indicator that the Jaredites were a hunter-gatherer society? If so, it would align well with the idea of them leaving from a tower where all people were hunter-gatherers for a living.

33. “Great many thousand years before” Christ

Helaman 8:18 says that before Abraham, there were lots of people called after the order of the Son, “that it should be shown unto the people, a great many thousand years before his coming, that even redemption should come unto them.” Although this verse is up for interpretation, “a great many thousand years” sounds like much more than the mere 4 thousand or less we generally assign to Adam, Enoch, and Noah. This verse definitely opens up the possibility that Father Adam, the pre-Abraham patriarchs, and even the brother of Jared were much earlier than 4,000 years before Christ–perhaps a great many thousand years before.

34. Joseph Smith’s view

Obviously, if the Jaredites arrived in the Americas around 8,000 BC, that means that Adam probably couldn’t have lived in 4,000 BC, contrary to popular belief. Well, Joseph Smith may have expressed a belief that the chronology apparent in the Bible is wrong. The 4,000 BC figure was reckoned by a guy named James Ussher in the 1600s, who used the years mentioned in the Bible, along with some historical sources to get there. Religious leader William Miller used Ussher’s numbers to predict the Second Coming for 1844. Joseph Smith, commenting on Miller’s prediction in 1843, said that Miller was wrong–not because of his method of calculation, but because of the errors in the Bible on which he based his calculation. Also, Joseph went against most people’s assumptions to declare that Adam, Enoch, and Noah lived in North America, not the Middle East–so he was already contradicting common interpretations taken from the Bible in other areas. Therefore, one could argue that Joseph Smith was perhaps aware to some degree that things recorded in the Bible may have taken place far earlier and far closer to home than we typically suppose. This of course, would include the Tower of Babel story, and the Jaredites who were connected to it. (see Joseph Smith Maybe Didn’t Believe in the Bible Dictionary’s Chronology)

35. The Bro of Jared moved a mountain

Ether 12:30 implies that the brother of Jared moved a mountain called Zerin. While the details of this story are left out of Moroni’s abridgement, and we don’t even know if it’s a real event or an old myth, the Gobekli-Jaredite theory could provide a possible explanation. Joseph Smith once wrote that the Jaredites “traveled they know not where, but at length arrived in the country of Aztalan [Wisconsin], of the lake country of America.” Because of this, some have suggested that the Jaredites came to America through the St. Lawrence River and then into the Great Lakes. Around 10-12 thousand years ago, there may have still been glaciers covering parts of Northern America. Perhaps this “mount” Zerin was actually a glacier or iceberg that stood in their way, and the brother of Jared moved it out of their path with his faith? This could also help explain the Lord’s promise that they would go to a place where no man had been–Aztalan probably would have been covered with ice until the end of the Younger Dryas (~11.6 ka). It’s a wild speculation, but moving a giant ice chunk “mountain” seems more likely than an ordinary mountain made of rocks.

36. Stone age people apparently had a thing for crystals in mountains

Scientists have actually found evidence for people 9.5 ka climbing high mountains to retrieve crystals, just like the brother of Jared did. While this stuff likely isn’t evidence left by the ancient prophet himself, it does show that these things happened close to the time of Gobekli Tepe. Perhaps in the minds of mesolithic peoples, crystals found in high places were of some religious value; and perhaps the brother of Jared’s decision to find some clear, glass-like stones reflect that. 

The place where the near-10,000-year-old crystal-hunting evidence was found is on the Oberalpstock mountain in the Swiss Alps. If, by chance, this is direct evidence of the Jaredites (and I’m not saying it is), then: 1) the sea mentioned in Ether 2:7 (“beyond” which “the Lord would not suffer that they should stop”) could be the Black Sea, which is very close to Gobekli Tepe; and 2) an Atlantic ocean voyage to the Americas is more likely, which aligns well with Joseph Smith’s statement that the Jaredites arrived at their promised land in America’s “the lake country”, presumably via the St. Lawrence River…. So it would be cool to learn more about these crystal-seeking mesolithic mountain men. 

“Map of the geographic extent of Folsom points in North America”: 

37. Folsom tradition had like the same territory as what W. W. Phelps said the Jaredites have, at the right time

In 1832, W. W. Phelps wrote that “from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains…Jaredites were in their glory upon this choice land above all others…” If the Jaredites left from Gobekli Tepe around 10,000 years ago, they may have been associated with the Folsom tradition, a group of people that thrived in North America from about 9 ka to 4.5 ka. Interestingly, the Folsom’s main area appears to have stretched roughly from the Great Salt Lake (the Rocky Mountains) to the Mississippi River, and from the Great Lakes to Northern Mexico. This fits pretty much exactly with the range W. W. Phelps assigned to the Jaredites during “their glory”. I don’t know if Phelps was right, but the Folsom tradition provides an archaeologically-known group of people in North America that coincides in time and place with the proposed Gobekli-Jaredites, especially if they arrived in the great lakes area, as Joseph Smith said. 


In the light of modern scientific research, the Tower of Babel story is hard to swallow, and because of that, some say it turns the Jaredites and the Book of Mormon into a fiction story. But what if the Tower of Babel was based on a real temple, tower, or hill? And what if it was much earlier in human history than we typically allow ourselves to think?

In my opinion, Gobekli Tepe works for the Jaredites’ “great tower” far better than a mythical Babylonian ziggurat built far too late in time. Gobekli Tepe would require that the Jaredites left the Old World around 10,000 years ago, instead of 4500 years ago. And this date change would very nicely allow for the Jaredites to:

  • Live alongside American mammoths, mastodon, giant sloths, gomphotheres, horses, and other “especially” “useful” animals.
  • Be close in time to North American glacial floods and cataclysms that may have spurred the stories of Noah’s flood.
  • Be hunter-gatherers at the world’s first temple

And many other things, as outlined in the 37 points above.

Maybe instead of the mammoths dying out later than we thought, the Jaredites were earlier than we thought? Maybe we need to rethink our assumptions when we read the book of Ether? Maybe Noah’s flood was local and was a result of the ending Ice Age? There are so many things we don’t know. 

Now, I don’t know for sure if the Gobekli-Jaredite theory accurately explains the true origin of the book of Ether; and I don’t know if the Tower of Babel is based off of a Neolithic temple built in Anatolia by hunter-gatherers, but I sure think it can explain a lot of things that our current, 2600-BC view can’t.

If this theory is true, and the Jaredites left Gobekli Tepe around 10,000 years ago, then we have to ditch the notion that Adam lived in 4,000 BC. While this may be hard given our prevailing paradigm, it may be exactly what we need to reconcile science and scripture and the words of Joseph Smith.

And if this theory is true, then God has been lovingly interacting with humans–our ancient ancestors; the people who made us possible–for far longer than we thought. Which, to me, is the most beautiful thing I’ve learned from researching this whole thing. Essentially, it’s turned the soul-less, faceless, supposedly “before 4000 BC ‘pre-Adamites'” into living, breathing, praying, worshiping, caring human beings who knew their God and were known by Him. And if God has been involved in the lives of our human predecessors over 10,000 years ago, why not our non-human ancestors 3+ million years ago? Or why not in the lives of all living things for the last 4 billion years of life on earth? God, I think, is more mindful than we usually believe Him to be.

As you study the book of Ether, I challenge you to read it with the Gobekli-Jaredite lens. It may help many parts of the story fit better than they did before, and it may open up a world of possibilities about our God that you might never have considered.

Sources and Notes

The notes are numbered to correspond with the 37 points above.

  1. Why Tower of Babel is problem for BOM:;; The first time I heard that the word “Babel” was wisely absent from the BOM was from some Hugh Nibley writings or recordings, which I have been unable to find since.
  2. Ether 1:16 calls Aaron a “descendant” of Heth, whereas Ether 10:31 says Heth “begat” Aaron, implying Aaron was the son of Heth. For som interesting Jaredite chronologies, see: 2600 BC start:;; 3100 BC start:; 14,000 BC start: For sources using a Jaredite arrival of about 2200 B.C., see:;;;
  3. “Early Jewish and Christian traditions reported that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, referred to as a pagan temple, in an attempt to contact heaven.”: Could a 12,000-yr-old Gobekli Tepe be the basis for the Tower Babel?: Some YEC may think that Gobekli Tepe is the Tower of Babel:;;;;; As a place to find friends:’t,give%20us%20a%20few%20clues.&text=Visitors%20can%20easily%20inspect%20the,animal%20figures%2C%20at%20G%C3%B6bekli%20Tepe
  5. Languages likely diverged around 10-15 ka:;,when%20modern%20Homo%20sapiens%20evolved. Indo European Language originated near Gobekli Tepe?: “Given that the origin of the Indo-European branch of languages can be traced both to Anatolia and to a timeframe which overlaps with the aceramic Neolithic era,” Anatolia is ancestor to tons of languages… cool pic:
    1. Olmec could be Jaredites:;
  7. World population estimated 5M in 8000 BC: Estimated to be 27-72M in 2000 BC: Glaciers in Asia and NA:;,of%20North%20America%20and%20Europe.
  8.; Ur: Think about this: Abraham traveled from Ur to the land of Canaan, and stopped in Haran (naming it after his brother). If Ur was in Iraq, why would he travel all the way north to Haran and then back south to Jerusalem? An Ur close to Gobekli Tepe is way more reasonable IMO.
  11. Mammoth and Mastodon extinctions, 10.9-11.5 ka:; Many finds of mammoths that predate the traditional 2600-BC Jaredites by thousands of years, including one that’s dated to 10,000 BC is covered by volcanic ashes that date around the same time: 
  13. Giant sloths went extinct in North America “approximately 10,000 years ago”. John Sorenson has suggested that one of the enigmatic words curelom or cummom from Ether 9:19 may refer to giant sloths:
  14.,is%20being%20studied%20by%20paleontologists.;;;; Curelom and Cummom are ground sloths? Were hunted by humans in New Mexico 15-10 ka: America was great with megafauna back in the day: Heth and megafaunal extinction?:
  15. Carvings about the comet strike of Younger Dryas on walls of GT: For those believing the Flood was in 2348 BC: 
  16. Tower could be same word for Hill in Hebrew, from a personal conversation with Jerry Grover on Facebook. Hunter-gathers wanted to climb hills and mountains to “touch the sky” or heaven–compare that with the people  who ventured to build a tower “sufficiently high that they might get to heaven” (Helaman 6:28); see minute 48 or so of:
  17. Boats were in use by 8000 BC:;
  21.; At least as long as 8500 years ago… Honey was collected by humans at least 25 ka, and probably earlier:
  23. Cereals were ground at GT: Einkorn was domesticated at GT, between 10.2-10.5 ka:–fisheries-archaeology-forskningno/on-the-track-of-the-worlds-first-farmer/1448265; ;; 
  25. Evidence of glyph for God found at GT:;;;’s_First_Known_Written_Word_at_Gobekli_Tepe_on_T-Shaped_Pillar_18_Means_God;;,Egypt%20at%20around%203200%20BC
  26. See note 25.; 
  27. “Taken together, this evidence suggests that the T-shaped pillars at Göbekli Tepe were likely meant to represent a god in the form of a bull-like being”:,the%20human%20and%20animal%20afterlife. God symbol: Klaus Schmidt, pg. 254,
  28. Of course, D&C 107:52-656 implies that the Lord showed Himself to Adam and some of his posterity. We usually assume this event happened before the Jaredite story. So how do we reconcile this with Ether 3:15?
  29. I don’t remember which scholar pointed out that the Jaredites were not necessarily Christians. Any help on this would be appreciated.
  30.;; Interestingly, some have made a connection between Gobekli Tepe and Masonry–which should be explored more because wouldn’t the first temple in the world, if built under the direction of someone with temple knowledge, like Nimrod, had some similarities to Masonry?: 
  31. “Hunter-gatherer groups tended to range in size from an extended family to a larger band of no more than about 100 people”: Jaredites had at least 22 by the time they arrived in NA. 20-50 for “highly mobile” groups with family ties:;; 20-50 people:
  32. Egalitarian… until they decided to have a king:
  33. Thoughts on what “many” could mean relative to “few” or “several”:,the%20exact%20number%20is%20indistinct
  35.; Times and Seasons, June 15, 1842, Vol. 3, No. 16, pp. 818-820: Great Lakes landing?: ;;;
  36. Stone age hunts for crystals in mountains, and Mesolithic heat treatment of stones:;;;;; ;;

15 thoughts on “The Jaredites Came From Gobekli Tepe, 10,000 Years Ago

  1. I love convoluted theories that try to make sense of all the conflicting stuff in the Book of Mormon. So, the Brother of Jared wrote down his account of all that he experienced and seal it up long before written language had developed?


    1. As I said (perhaps not very clearly) in point #25 above, there was definitely one symbol carved into a pillar at Gobekli Tepe–some 12,000 years ago or so–that we know means “God”. If there were symbols that meant things at Gobekli Tepe, then the brother of Jared could have also written symbols to represent his vision. The oldest known cave art goes back before 60,000 years ago, and it meant something to the person who painted it. Why couldn’t the brother of Jared have scribbled or drawn something that had meaning to him? God surely would have known what the bro of J was trying to say. Just because written language seems to have developed after Gobekli Tepe doesn’t mean that the symbols there had no meaning.


  2. Ryan: these articles you write…you’re just goofin’ with people, correct? They remind me of books that came out around the time of The DiVinci Code – like The Hiram Key – that would start with an assumption and then attempt to cram every possible event they could think of from the past to “support” their hypothesis. Kinda like trying to build a Unified Theory of History using gobble-dee-goop. Now, these books were fun to read. Much like yourself, the authors would us enough factual history (mingled with said goop) to lead people along until some people would say “hum, maybe this is true!” This is a technique still used today by everyone from TV’s Ancient Aliens to Alex Jones, both of whom are very successful at delivering #&X@ in mass quantities.

    Now, I’m sure you’ll want to delete this, or refute it with great indignation, and I support whatever action you take completely. I don’t want you to cease writing this blog. I would just like you to remember Carl Sagan’s counsel that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and move from pronouncements like “The Jaredites Came From Gobekli Tepe 10,000 Years Ago” toward something like “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If The Jaredites…” I mean, Gobekli Tepe is one of the most amazing discoveries ever, and for some people, you just introduced that to them.
    Nothin’ wrong with speculation, just make sure your followers know exactly when you’ve moved onto that path.


    1. Rick, I appreciate your comment. I admit, the title of the blog post is a bit clickbaitish, but I did try to be clear in the text by saying it was a theory and a hypothesis, and by saying at the beginning, “Of course, it’s all speculation, so take it with a grain of salt”. I’m not a funded researcher, or publishing anything in a book or scientific journal–it’s a free WordPress site with ads and a weird URL. I’m not claiming divine inspiration or anything–just having fun (but I’m definitely not “goofin’ with people”). I started this blog to take a middle road between the “Church is true so science is false” people and the “science is true so the Church is false” people; to provide new ways to look at things. I’m not sure which side of that spectrum you fall. 

      Although I do try to keep an open mind, I would ask where is Carl Sagan’s “extraordinary proof” that the mythical Tower of Babel existed in 2600 BC? Where’s the “extraordinary proof” that American mammoths or mastodons survived in Mesoamerica as late as 4,000 years ago? I tried to support my claims as well as I could, so I’d be happy to hear your arguments against them. Like I said, I am open to other suggestions. This is after all, just a theory.


  3. Completely agree with your timeline, all though some points i disagree with mainly the points about the lord and Jesus Christ, those seem fanciful. Otherwise this is the most excellent historically accurate presentation I have ever read. Thank you Ttyl


  4. This is a very informative post.Although the record is brief, it hints at an epic genre rooted in the ancient Near East. The Jaredite origin in the Old World probably dates to the third Millennium B.C., which due to the scarcity of historical material presents obstacles to the use of comparative literature or archaeology. ThankYou for sharing this piece ,I will pen down on this topic on paper writer.


    1. Thanks for your comment, Jacob! For what reasons specifically do you believe that the Jaredite origin in the Old World dates to the third millennium BC?


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