Gobekli Tepe – Huge Temple 11.500 Years Old!


Archaeologists worldwide are in rare agreement on the site’s importance. ‘Gobekli Tepe changes everything,’ says Ian Hodder, at Stanford University. David Lewis-Williams, professor of archaeology at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is the most important archaeological site in the world.’ Some go even further and say the site and its implications are incredible. As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.’ It is maybe the biggest archaeological discovery ever: a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion – and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden.

The site isn’t just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago- a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape.

Though not as large as Stonehenge- the biggest circle is 30 yards across, the tallest pillars 17 feet high- the ruins are astonishing in number. Last year Schmidt found his third and fourth examples of the temples. Ground-penetrating radar indicates that another 15 to 20 such monumental ruins lie under the surface. Schmidt’s German-Turkish team has also uncovered some 50 of the huge pillars, including two found in his most recent dig season that are not just the biggest yet, but, according to carbon dating, are the oldest monumental artworks in the world.
Unlike most discoveries from the ancient world, Göbekli Tepe was found intact, the stones upright, the order and artistry of the work plain even to the un-trained eye. Most startling is the elaborate carving found on about half of the 50 pillars Schmidt has unearthed. There are a few abstract symbols, but the site is almost covered in graceful, naturalistic sculptures and bas-reliefs of the animals that were central to the imagination of hunter-gatherers.
 
Genetic mapping shows that the first domestication of wheat was in this immediate area- perhaps at a mountain visible in the distance- a few centuries after Göbekli’s founding. Animal husbandry also began near here- the first domesticated pigs came from the surrounding area in about 8000 B.C., and cattle were domesticated in Turkey before 6500 B.C. Pottery followed. Those discoveries then flowed out to places like Çatalhöyük, the oldest-known Neolithic village, which is 300 miles to the west.

 

The real reason the ruins at Göbekli remain almost unknown, not yet incorporated in textbooks, is that the evidence is too strong, not too weak. "The problem with this discovery," as Schwartz of Johns Hopkins puts it, "is that it is unique." No other monumental sites from the era have been found. Before Göbekli, humans drew stick figures on cave walls, shaped clay into tiny dolls, and perhaps piled up small stones for shelter or worship. Even after Göbekli, there is little evidence of sophisticated building. Dating of ancient sites is highly contested, but Çatalhöyük is probably about 1,500 years younger than Göbekli, and features no carvings or grand constructions. The walls of Jericho, thought until now to be the oldest monumental construction by man, were probably started more than a thousand years after Göbekli. Huge temples did emerge again- but the next unambiguous example dates from 5,000 years later, in southern Iraq.

The site is such an outlier that an American archeologist who stumbled on it in the 1960s simply walked away, unable to interpret what he saw. On a hunch, Schmidt followed the American’s notes to the hilltop 15 years ago, a day he still recalls with a huge grin. He saw carved flint everywhere, and recognized a Neolithic quarry on an adjacent hill, with unfinished slabs of limestone hinting at some monument buried nearby. "In one minute- in one second- it was clear," the bearded, sun-browned archeologist recalls. He too considered walking away, he says, knowing that if he stayed, he would have to spend the rest of his life digging on the hill.

Now 55 and a staff member at the German Archaeological Institute, Schmidt has joined a long line of his countrymen here, reaching back to Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy. He has settled in, marrying a Turkish woman and making a home in a modest "dig house" in the narrow streets of old Urfa. Decades of work lie ahead. So far Schmidt has uncovered less than 5 percent of the site, and he plans to leave some temples untouched so that future researchers can examine them with more sophisticated tools.

Whatever mysterious rituals were conducted in the temples, they ended abruptly before 8000 B.C., when the entire site was buried, deliberately and all at once, Schmidt believes. The temples had been in decline for a thousand years- later circles are less than half the size of the early ones, indicating a lack of resources or motivation among the worshipers. This "clear digression" followed by a sudden burial marks "the end of a very strange culture" .

About Alex Imreh

http://www.aleximreh.ro http://www.facebook.com/alex.imreh 0742-669918
This entry was posted in History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s