The rock painting is located in a ‘cave’ on the northern slope of the deep, romantic Karadere (Black Valley) at a height of approx. 430 m (1).At this point the slope forms a natural terrace, enclosed on all sides by rocks except for a gap on the eastern side. This creates a small, courtyard like area which, like the surroundings of the Göktepe painting with the spring festival (?) gives the impression of a natural sanctuary (2.3).
The ‘cave’ with the picture is located in the north-western corner of this courtyard (3). It consists of the vertical drop of the rock slope of the terrace and a displaced rock slab leaning against it at an angle that has been exposed to varying weathering on its inside. At the foot of the rock cliff is a low rock bench, like that in the Balıktaş rock chamber. The entrance to the ‘cave’ is from the eastern side (4.5).
Description and interpretation
The picture in the Karadere ‘cave’ holds a special position among the Latmic rock paintings. It differs fundamentally in its theme, severity, and magic effect from the otherwise usual ‘family scenes’.
The painting, which is located on the inner, eastern side of the ‘cave’, shows an assemblage of several figures of varying size (6-8) which are adjoined by a further figure in the next weathered niche. Except for the eighth figure from the left, which perhaps represents an animal viewed from above, and the female figure at the right edge of the picture, they are men, five of them being ‘matchstick men’ with in part unusually long necks. Only the fourth, seventh and tenth figures differ clearly from the others through their height, the position of their hands and their body volume. They are probably wearing long robes. The latter is also true of the second figure from the left who looks like a diminutive form of the large fourth figure.
The main person is without doubt the fourth figure from the left. She is given prominence among all the others with her raised hands clenched into fists and her elevated position under an arc-shaped weathered edge in the rock.
The T-shaped or antenna-like head-dress of several figures is strange, especially noticeable in the case of the main figure. This is probably meant to depict horns. Human figures with horns or horn masks on their heads are nothing unusual in rock paintings. They are attested since the Palaeolithic era and are interpreted as ‘horned gods’, demons, or shamans.
The depiction in the Karadere image has probably to do with the cult of the weather god on the mountain peak. The following observation speaks in favour of this: At the side of the entrance there is a shallow round recess in the rock floor (9-10). Looking from this spot towards the main mountain range, only the highest peak, which was regarded as being sacred, is to be seen (11). The other jagged peaks are hidden by the wall of rock opposite. Only by climbing this rock face does one obtain an unobstructed view of the entire mountain range (12), and the question arises whether the figures on the cave’s wall are not the personifications of the various mountain peaks to which sacrifices were made in front of the ‘cave’. The dominant fourth figure is perhaps the personification of the peak, the weather god (13). If this interpretation should be correct, this would be the earliest representation of the weather god in Anatolia.
However, this figure could possibly also be interpreted as being a shaman, provided that such beliefs existed in the eastern Aegean area in Chalcolithic times. If this point of view is accepted, the entire scene could be interpreted as a rain magic ceremony, with the shaman with his fists clenched in front of the mountain peak playing the role of rain-maker.
1) View from the East into the Karadere (Black Valley).