Pesky purses revisited

Last December I wrote a blog about Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe and equated “those pesky purses” found at the top with containers for lost knowledge and those holding them as knowledge bearers.

Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe:

pillar.jpgPhoto by Klaus-Peter Simon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


Apparently I am not the only one fascinated by “pesky purses” and not the only one to see them as containers for knowledge.

Here is some background:

Graham Hancock first brought up the subject in his book Magicians of the Gods (2015). He was writing about Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe. As Graham Hancock pointed out, the containers, or banduddû can be found in Babylon and are associated with the Assyrian Apkallu:

Wall_relief_depicting_an_eagle-headed_and_winged_man,_Apkallu,_from_Nimrud-2..JPGBy Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


And they are found in South America, most notably on the La Venta Stele:

La_Venta_Stele_19_(Delange).jpgPublic Domain: By Audrey and George Delange (Audrey and George Delange) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons


Here is some new information:

Freddy Silva has written an article for the Ancient Origins website and he has more to say about the “knowledge” these “pesky purses” contain.

His article,  Banduddû: Solving the Mystery of the Babylonian Container is in the member’s section and not generally available to the public, so I will summarize his main points as they relate to my previous blog post. (If you have not checked out Ancient Origins website, do so. You do not have to be a “member” to subscribe and get some really enlightening articles—just not this one.)

In his article, Freddy Silva makes note of the many depictions of the Apkallu around fruit trees:

King-Ashur-nasir-pal-II-1.jpgBy M0tty (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


He equates the tree with the Tree of Knowledge, so famous for bearing the fruit of forbidden knowledge. I would agree. I also see this as an earlier version of the Qabalistic Tree of Life which has three columns and side “spheres:”

tol_map.gifCopyright 2002-Servants of the Light (Used with permission)


We find the Tarot key of the Fool, carrying his “pesky purse” from Kether—the white sphere—to Chokmah—the grey sphere.

RWS_Tarot_00_Fool.jpgFrom Rider-Waite-Smith deck. No longer under copyright.

Pinecones or pomegranates?

Now take a look at the object held up by the Apkallu:

8606000868_78ae19fba6_b.jpg(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Freddy Silva identifies them as the pomegranates, the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. I disagree. I see them as pine cones, representative of the pineal gland, long associated in mystical literature with third eye, and with the ability to “see beyond….” The pinecone is associated with hidden (but not necessarily forbidden) knowledge.

Here is a picture from Freddy Silva’s article showing “real life” banduddû:


banduddu.jpg(Fabien Dany and CC BY-SA 2.5)



Note the serpents on several of them and compare that to the man surrounded by the serpent on the La Vente stele:

La_Venta_Stele_19_(Delange).jpgPublic Domain: By Audrey and George Delange (Audrey and George Delange) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons


Snakes and serpents are a symbol of regeneration, rebirth as Mr. Silva aptly points out in his article. But serpents are also a symbol for kundalini. Now consider the pinecone as the pineal, the “destination” of rising kundalini, as that which awakens the powers of the pineal.

Finally, to quote Mr. Silva, “…the mysterious banduddû seems to be associated with a form of restricted knowledge that links the mortal world with that of the gods.” I quite agree, but for somewhat differing reasons.

He then goes on to postulate that Gobekli Tepe was, among other things, a special “classroom.” Perhaps it was more than that—perhaps it was intended to help preserve and share this special knowledge.


For more information:

Banduddû: Solving the Mystery of the Babylonian Container;

Note: There is so much more in this article than I have illustrated here. I have only touched on some of the major points.

Ancient Origins:

Qabalistic Tree of Life:



Previous posts on “pesky purses:”



Back to Pillar 43: Those pesky purses


The celestial markings on Pillar 43 at Göbekli Tepe are indeed intriguing, but there is more: Those pesky purses decorating the top of the pillar.

In his book Magicians of the Gods,  Graham Hancock points these out along with similar purses or containers from Mesopotamia and  Mexico.

This one from Mexico is called the “Man in the Serpent”:



And these beings are Sumerian Apkallu:


In both examples look at the shape of the purses and at how they are held –are they too similar to be coincidence?

We don’t seem to know who the Man in the Serpent represents–at least I could not find anything in the web–but the three figures, the Apkallu, are the three forms (man, bird and fish) taken by the the Seven Sages who brought the civilizing arts to Sumer after the great flood. The most famous is Oannes, the fish-god on the right, who came from the sea each day to teach wisdom, writing, the arts and sciences. (The link above has more images of the Apkallu with their purses, or as the archeologists call them, “buckets.”)

The story of gods or demigods who brought civilizing skills to more primitive people (thus jump-starting more advanced civilizations) is a common one. We see it across the globe, most often associated with a flood or deluge that almost wiped out life on the planet. So I did a search. Most of the civilizing gods we know, Thoth who became Hermes, Osiris, Rama from India, Virachoca, and Kulkulkan both from South America, do not carry purses.  But I found two others who did.

This is Quetzalcoatl from the Codex Rois:


And this is the early Mayan god, Itzamna:



So what’s with those pesky purses anyway?

I believe the key (pun intended) to understanding the meaning of the purses comes from the  Book of Thoth which we know today as the Tarot.  Now used primarily as a fortune telling devise, it’s original purpose was to encode ancient teachings in pictures and symbols.  This is the “Fool” (Key 0) from the Rider-Waite deck:


According to esoteric tradition, what The Fool carries in his purse is memory, in this case cosmic or universal memory as he steps from Kether, the Beginning (or Crown), to Chokmah, which represents Wisdom, on his journey down the Qabalistic Tree of Life. If you are not familiar with the Qabalah, don’t spend a lot of time working that out–the point is the Fool is just beginning a long journey and he is taking the memory of his past with him. Much like the sages of old who brought civilizing skills to the hunter-gatherer peoples in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Americas, and other parts of the world.

So one way to see the purse is as the container for the wisdom and knowledge of the lost civilization. Trunks of manuscripts come to mind, and lost halls of records under pyramids, but also technology like the Ark of the Covenant, or even Arks that are boats carrying people away from lands sunken by the great deluge. They all contain the memory in one form or another.

And let us not forget the beings themselves for they, too, are containers of that knowledge. The seven sages of Mesopotamia, the seven sages on the Edfu texts, all the civilizing “gods” fit this description.

And in the case of Pillar 43, it is a container of knowledge. As is all of Göbekli Tepe. Designed, perhaps, by one of the original Apkulla, Göbekli Tepe preserves the ancient wisdom for a time when we have “eyes to see.”

And finally, as I was pounding away on the treadmill this morning, I had one other thought: The memory is also contained in what Jung termed the Collective Unconscious, and that, too, is a sort of purse or container of wisdom. One we have access to today.

So my search for these ancient purses continues–are there perhaps other clues out there?  Please comment if you know of any.


Photo credits: Pillar 43,  Man in Serpent, ApkalluQuetzalcoatlItzamna