Gobleki Tepe: Discover The Place Where Civilization Began

Gobleki Tepe

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Gobleki Tepe

Gobleki Tepe: Discover The Place Where Civilization Began

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From Machu Pichu in South America to England’s Stonehenge and the glory of the Egyptian pyramids, the world abounds in vital archeological sites. Yet there is one site which not only pre-dates these more famous ancient monuments but may well prove to be much more important – and mark the precise spot where man took the first step towards civilization. Happy Ali introduces you to Gobleki Tepe….

Pre-historic Stonehenge was built between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. Machu Pichu, the incredible royal estate of South America’s Inca kings, was built around 1400 years ago. The Great Sphinx that sits beside the Great Pyramids of Giza is 4,500 years old. 

Each place marks some of mankind’s most enduring and awe-inspiring achievements. But there is another place, another ancient site, that is proving to be not only much older than these magnificent cultural icons, but also perhaps far more important – Gobleki Tepe is set on a wind-swept hill top in Turkey’s southern Anatolia, roughly ten kilometres southwest from the ancient city of Urfa. And it may well be here that man built his first temple.

Discovered in 1963 by a group of Turkish and US academics, the site remained largely unexplored until excavations began in 1993 by the late German archeologist Klaus Schmidt. The finds so far reveal that this is the world’s oldest ritual site with evidence dating it’s construction as far back as 12,000 years ago.

Gobleki Tepe 2
Gobleki Teppe is 6-7,000 years older than Stonehenge

That is as much as 6,000-7000 years older than Stonehenge, older than the pyramids and older than the first known form of writing which is generally accepted to have started in the Nile Valley around 3100 BC.

Why is this this so important? It is because archeologists believe that this site is represents a series of temple structures built one overlaying another, indicating continued use through millennia of human occupation.

Civilization is a concept that began when humans stopped their roaming nomadic existences and settled in one spot to adopt agriculture as its major food source.

Tribes stop moving, they build shelters, they plant crops, they harvest. Over time they develop communication and seek to explain the world around them. They develop religion and build temples. But this process starts with agriculture.

However, archeologists believe the people who built Gobleki Tepe were hunter-gatherers. So not only is Gobleki Tepe be the oldest temple yet discovered, it may also be the place where man took his first steps toward civilization.

Gobleki Tepe 3
Gobleki Tepe: Discover the place where mankind took the first step towards civilization

The site sits on top of a hill and the horizon can be observed unobstructed in a 360-degree circle. The name Gobleki Tepe means hollow shaped hill, which reflects the way the temple is constructed. The hilltop has been hollowed out and inside is a collection of ringed T-shaped limestone megaliths, which are luge stones used to create a monument.

One of these rings’ measures 65 metres in diameter. Some of the stones are five metres tall and weigh as much as 10 tonnes. And each of the stones is carved with a figure: sometimes a vulture, sometimes a lion, scorpion, or a fox. Most of the carvings are two dimensional, however several are carved three dimensionally.

So far, 17 rings have been excavated, revealing a society of astonishing ingenuity and engineering skill. Other archaeological evidence indicates that whoever built these structures were mainly hunters. A multitude of animal bones – mostly gazelle – and stone hammers have been found in the area. Cut marks on the hones indicate the animals were butchered and cooked.

And yet, there is no evidence of cooking hearths, buildings, or shelters or even rubbish pits, which suggests that the people were constantly on the move.

Gobleki Tepe
Gobleki Tepe -only five per cent of the site in Turkey has been excavated

However, other evidence suggests that these people were remarkably close to settling done and developing agricultural practices – fields of wild barley and wheat have been found nearby as have the bones of wild sheep. In other words, these people had access to grain and animals they could domesticate after they built Gobleki Tepe as a place of worship, which probably happened within 1000 years of the first phase of construction.

And this is only the beginning. So far, even with the speed of modern excavation, only five per cent of the site has been excavated. What is uncovered at Gobleki Tepe during the next 10 or 20 years may rewrite our knowledge of our earliest human history.

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