Gobekli Tepe (trad: round hill - navel) is an archaeological site located about 18 km north-east
from the city of Şanlıurfa in modern Turkey, near to the Syria border, in which was found the oldest example of a stone temple, dating back to 9600 BC and that is undermining all the standard believes about the origins of Human civilization.
Göbekli Tepe is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge but it was built much earlier and not with blocks of stone roughly cutted but with limestone pillars finely sculpted in bas-relief. They are still visible parade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, wild boar!
The Complex dates back to seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza, and it is the oldest known example of monumental architecture. Around 8000 BC the site was abandoned deliberately and voluntarily buried with earth brought by man.
Archaeologists continue to dig and discuss its meaning. Göbekli Tepe and other sites in the Middle East are changing our ideas about a turning point in human history: the Neolithic Revolution, when hunter-gatherers were transformed into sedentary farmers.
The site is located on an artificial hill about 15 meters high with a diameter of about 300 m, situated on the highest point of elevation of a elongated shape which dominates the surrounding region, between the Taurus Mountains and the Karaca Dag and valley where the city of Harran. The site used by man would have had an extension from 300 to 500 square meters.
So far, less than a tenth of the site has been excavated. This gives an idea of the awe inspired in the temple to the pilgrims who gathered here 7,000 years before the construction of Stonehenge.
The Gobekli Tepe discovery
The news came to the head of the museum of the city of Şanlıurfa, who contacted the ministry, who in turn got in touch with the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul headquarters.
The excavations brought to light a monumental megalithic sanctuary, consisting of an artificial hill bordered by stone walls rough dry. They were also found four circular enclosures, bordered by huge limestone pillars weighing over 10 tons each, probably plucked with the use of stone tools. According to the Director of the archeological site, the stones pricked up and arranged in a circle symbolize an assembly of men.
The more interesting discovery concerns about 40 stones disposed to form a T high as five feet. The limestone blocks, weighing five tons, were brought here from a nearby quarry even if the wheel or domesticated beasts of burden were not yet introduced.
Most of them are engraved and they show the different types of animals (snakes, ducks, cranes, bulls, foxes, lions, boars, cows, scorpions, ants). Some recordings were voluntarily canceled, perhaps to prepare the stone to receive new ones. There are also decorative elements such as patterns of dots and geometric patterns.
There are also some isolated sculptures, in clay, very ruined by time, which probably represent a boar or a fox. Comparisons can be made with statues of the same type found in the sites of Nevali choirs and Nahal Hemar.
The sculptors had to do their work directly on the plateau of the sanctuary, where they were also found stones unfinished and bowl-shaped cavity in the rock clay, a technique already used during the Epipaleolithic to get clay for sculptures or the clay binder used in the masonry.
In the rock there are also phallic representations, maybe go back to later periods, finding comparisons in Sumerian and Mesopotamian cultures (sites of Byblos, Nemrik, Helwan and Aswad).
Until now, 45 of these stones have been dug, but there are indications that there is much to discover. Geomagnetic surveys imply that there are hundreds more standing stones, just waiting to be brought to light. Gobekli Tepe would have been an extraordinary site. A kind of Turkish Stonehenge.
Several factors make of Gobekli Tepe archeology an isolated and unique case.
The first is its age. Radiocarbon dating shows that the complex is at least 12,000 years ago, perhaps even 13,000 years old.
This means that it was built around 10,000 BC. Gobekli Tepe is thus the oldest complex site constructed by Man in the world. It is so old that it precede the time when it is believed Man become sedentary. Gobekli comes from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, deep past of hunter-gatherers.
How did cavemen build something so ambitious? The archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, thinks that bands of hunters would have gathered sporadically at the site, during the decades of construction, they lived in tents made of animal skin and kill the local game for food. The many flint arrowheads found around Gobekli support this thesis, but also support the dating of the site.
This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something like Gobekli, radically changes our view of the world, because it shows that the life of the ancient hunter-gatherers in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived. It is as if Gods came down from heaven and Gobekli had been built with their own hands.
Gobekli Tepe as a Constellation representation
A few years ago, archaeologists found at Cayonu a pile of human skulls. They were found under a slab altar, dyed with human blood. No one is sure, but this may be the first evidence of human sacrifice: one of the most inexplicable human behavior, which could have developed only in the face of a terrible societal stress.
Experts are debating the evidence of Cayonu. But what no one denies is that human sacrifice took place in this region, including Palestine, Israel and Canaan. Archaeological evidence indicates that the victims were killed in huge death pits, children were buried alive in jars, others were burned in large jars of bronze.
These are almost incomprehensible acts, unless you think that the people had learned to have fear of Gods, because they had been driven out of paradise. So he tried to propitiate the wrath of heaven. This savagery may, indeed, be the key to a final solution, baffling mystery. The amazing stone friezes of Gobekli Tepe are preserved intact for a bizarre reason.
Long ago, the site was deliberately and systematically buried with a colossal work together with all its wonderful stone carvings. Around 8000 BC, the creators of Gobekli buried their realization and their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating the artificial hills on which the Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994. The reason that led the ancients to bury forever the temple of Gobekli Tepe remains a mystery.