NEVALI CORI, TURKEY – THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION

Large structures involving carved megalithic stones are a typical feature of Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe. Both these ancient sites are located in the Urfa zone in Turkey though technically it is part of Armenian culture. Although the city was inhabited since 9000 BC, it was named Edessa after the Mecedonian capital. However the Greek meaning of Edessa is unknown but can be explained by Indo-European, more specifically by the Sanskrit ‘adhas’ (एधस्) meaning  ‘prosperity’. The oldest recorded name of the city is Adma or Adna  recorded in Assyrian cuneiform in 7th century BC, and can be also be explained by ‘adhas’ for it appears to be a truncated interpretation of what might really have been ‘adhas’ engraved on the clay tablets. Urfa may be explained by the root word Uru (उरु)or ‘excellent’, which appears in Armenian and Mesopotamian city names.



Roughly 10,000 years old, Nevali Cori is the megalithic site from where the artefact of the ‘Vedic Priest with a ‘Shikha’ (a tuft of hair growing from the crown) was excavated in 1993. Located at the foothills of the Taurus mountains, on the both the banks of the Kantara river, one of the tributaries of the Euphrates river,  the site is known for having some of the world’s oldest known temples and monumental structures. Kantara is a unit of weight in the Turkish land Arabic languages and does not make sense as a name of a river. It is Sanskrit that explains the name of the river better. In Sanskrit kantara (कान्तार) means ‘wilderness’ or ‘a path through a forest’, its meaning here is more appropriate. These two facts are significant in the explanation of the name ‘Nevali Cori’.


Vedic Priest with ‘shikha’ – a tuft of

hair growing from the back of the cranium.

 Sculpture excavated

at Nevali Cori- a site dated to

older than 8000 BC

In the absence of any meaning of the words Nevali and Kori in the Turkish or Armenian languages one may look elsewhere for clues. First one may look at the structure itself though it no longer exists in its original location. It was excavated between the years 1983 to 1991 from its original site,  when the archaeologists raced against time to transport the artifacts out of harms way before the commencement of the building of the Ataturk dam. However, the entire area including many other archaeological sites, were inundated by the waters of the Euphrates, though not before the remnants of Neval Cori were saved.



One of the striking features of Nevali Cori is that by design, it houses not circular, but rectangular structures. Unlike Goebekli Tepe where the T-shaped structures are arranged in circles, Nevali Cori is by foundation, rectangular in its pattern and is closest in design to another monolithic structure, the KalaSaya of Bolivia.



The main structure of Nevali Cori as mentioned above was preserved and is now on display at the Sanliurfa Museum in Turkey. The main enclosure was aligned in perfect precision in the Northeast to Southwest direction. Such was the precision that archaeologists marvel and therefore conclude that there must have been a specific purpose and reason for this precision.

The central structure consists of 12 pillars, ten of them arranged in a rectangle with two monolithic pillars placed in the centre. It is between the two pillars, in an outer area, that the large shaven head of a priest with an intriguing snake-shaped hair tuft grown at the back of his cranium, much like sported by the Vedic priests of India, was found. It is therefore concluded that the spot between the two pillars was the holiest, and perhaps aligned to the position of a particular heavenly body. 

The shikha of the Vedic priests of India is a representation of the snake like ‘kundalini’ which lies coiled at the base chakra, and with meditation and asceticism rises to the highest chakra in the head, characterized by different levels of awakening and mystical experiences and finally spiritual liberation.

The shikha or the tuft of hair at the back of the cranium

on the priest’s head at Nevali Kori is perhaps the 

representation of the Vedic kundalini


Researchers Andrew Collins and Hugh Newman who investigated Nevalı Cori have also come to the conclusion as have many others, that there was probably a Vedic connection to the purpose and function of this temple or observatory.

Given that one may look at the name Nevali Cori through the Sanskrit lens. It is possible that Nevali maybe be a distortion of the Sanskrit Nabha (नभ) meaning ‘sky’ or ‘Nibhal’ (निभाल ) meaning ‘to see’ or ‘perceive’, indicating that Nevali Cori was an observatory. The word Cori may derive from the Sanskrit ‘korit’ meaning ‘created’ or ‘hewn from’ or ‘constructed’. The word Cori also appears in the name of another famous megalithic temple, the Kori Kancha of Peru, though it is said that at Nevali Cori, the Cori is pronounced as Chouri and in that case it may be a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Souri’ or ‘Sourik’ (सौरिक) meaning ‘paradise’, ‘heaven’ or ‘solar’ or ‘pertaining to the sun’.

Other close Sanskrit cognates of the word which may help in decoding the name of the site ‘Nevali’ include  ‘nevalla’ (नेवल्ल) meaning ‘pertaining to a specific number’ or ‘naval’ (नवल) meaning ‘new’. Cori may be a truncated form of ‘kriti’ (कृति) meaning ‘creation’.  In design Nevali Cori is rectangular, and not circular, and in that sense, it is the equivalent of ‘na-valay’, (नावलय) Sanskrit for ‘not like a bracelet’ in shape, though this may seem a bit of a stretch in terms of explain the meaning of Nevali-Cori. 

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