A big neolithic archaeological site exists in the southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey. Göbekli Tepe, or in english ‘bellied top’. Is believed to be inhabited from around 11500 years to 10000 ago. During pre-pottery neolithic. It is known for the worlds oldest megaliths. The sites circular structures contain massive stone pillars. Providing insight, the pillars have carvings and decorations. Including wild animals, birds, clothing and whats looks like humans. Into the mind, and prehistoric hobbies, craft, beliefs and religion in the area. A monumental coplex, built on top a rocky mountaintop. The site provides evidence on the dawn of the sw Asian neolithic period. Limestone manufacturing and huge stone work. Make it known, significantly older than Stonehenge and, the great pyramid of Giza. It is one of the world’s oldest known architectural complexes.
At 50 feet, or 15 meters high; the 20 acre site is unique
There are structures, and other small buildings. Quarries, and stone cut cisterns. It had been debated whether it was used a a temple by nomadic hunter gatherers, or people actually lived at the site. Which is probably both. It is clear, the site is, one of the earliest ritualistic human settlements anywhere on earth. There were domestic findings, like water supply, and neolithic tools. There is evidence from strigraphic studies, the site had been backfilled and redug out a number of times. Perhaps something we dont know.
Known locally in Kurdish as Girê Mirazan or Xerabreşk, the area was considered a sacred place
In 1963, American archaeologist Peter Benedict, Istanbul University and the University of Chicago identified stone tools and what they thought were graves at the site.
They didnt mess with it. It was later. In 1994 when Klaus Scmidt, who had been working nearby at Nevali Cori. Decided to talk to landowners and come to the site. He continued to work and direct work there. With the Şanlıurfa Museum and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Until his death in 2014. Istanbul University, Şanlıurfa Museum, the German archaeology institute and locals still continue studies there today.
Klaus Schmidt’s view was that Göbekli Tepe was a stone-age mountain sanctuary
Suggesting it was a central location for a cult of the dead and that the carved animals are there to protect the dead. He found nutchered bones in large numbers from the local game such as deer, gazelle, pigs, and geese. In the late summer or fall, or when more animals were present. There could have been feasts or rituals. Leading to a development towards urban civilization.
Foothills of Taurus mountains. In region, western Asia. About 400 km from Tripoli (Lebannon)
Located in Taş Tepeler (‘Stone Hills’). The temple overlooks the Harran plain, and the headwaters of the Balikh River, a tributary of the Euphrates. It is built on a high point on the edge or the mountains. Increasing both wide angles and views of the plain beneigth. There are both soft flint, and limestone nearby for tool and building material supplies. There is spots from all over the cliffs and area. Including a cave on the western end. A bovine or auroch drawing was found here.
Village people? Pre-Pottery Neolithic into two sub periods: the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA): 9600–8800 BCE; and, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB): 8800 and 7000 BCE. Archaeology and chronology consists of eight phases spanning at least 1500 years. Chronologically falling under the period from 9500 to 8000 BC. For late PPNA and PPNB.
Earliest settlement phase includes the first versions of circular enclosures A to D. To later stages, where slope slides inundated lower lying portions of the structures. A number of times. So retaining walls were built. And, the neolithic villagers were forced to moved around.
During PPN. Architecture consisted mainly of clusters of stone or mud brick houses and villages
Sometimes also substantial monuments and large buildings. Like the tower and walls at Tell es-Sultan (Jericho), as well as Nevalı Çori, Çayönü (link), Wadi Feynan 16, Jerf el-Ahmar, Tell ‘Abr 3, and Tepe Asiab. It must of been a great team effort getting these structures together. It’s believed, would carry momentum over into social interactions. As the communities grew in size.
Architecture was monumental here
It consists of a series of large, circular or oval stone pillars. Many of which are elaborately carved with intricate reliefs of animals and abstract symbols. These stone pillars are arranged in concentric rings. They are surrounded by various enclosures and walls. It is believed to have had a religious or ceremonial purpose. The elaborate carvings on the pillars suggest that they may have been used in rituals, and some researchers believe it could have been a place of communal worship or gatherings. Pillars and stonework depict mammals such as lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelle, and donkeys. Snakes and other reptiles. Arthropods such as insects and arachnids. And birds, particularly vultures. The pictograms may represent fauna, or commonly understood sacred symbols, as known from Neolithic cave paintings elsewhere.
The first known circular compounds are large
At this early stage of the site’s history, circular compounds first appear. They range from 10 to 30 m (33 to 98 ft) in diameter. And, 40 feet high. Their most notable feature is the presence of t-shaped limestone pillars. They are evenly set within thick interior walls composed of unworked stone. Four such circular structures have been unearthed so far. But its believed there are more. Geophysical surveys indicate that there are 16 more. Each with up to eight pillars (almost 200 pillars in all). From giant rock pits located approximately 100 m (330 ft) from the hilltop many of the stones were cut and removed. The pillars are the oldest known megaliths in the world. Whether the circles were provided with a roof is uncertain.
Like many of the other pre-pottery neolithic sites in the region pillars are t shaped
The T-shaped pillar tradition seen at Göbekli Tepe is unique to the Urfa region. But are found at the majority of PPN sites there. This includes Nevalı Çori, Hamzan Tepe, Karahan Tepe, Harbetsuvan Tepesi, Sefer Tepe, and Taslı Tepe. Unlike at these other sites, however, many of the pillars are carved typically in low relief, though sometimes in high relief. Most carvings depict animals, mostly serpents, foxes, and boars, but also gazelle, mouflon (wild sheep), onager, ducks, and vultures.
Insofar as they can be identified, the animals are male, and often depicted with an aggressive posture.
Its believed the t shaped pillars are based on shamanic practices and represented human forms
In general, the pillars may have represented human forms. Like arms and legs; and, the help of ancestors. It was a common theme, to sites and representations in the area. Though beliefs in the deities was not developing until later. Like in Mesopotamia, and the middle east. It was associated with extensive temples and palaces. It also, corresponds with ancient Sumerian beliefs. That agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to humans from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna Steles and sculptures. Some scientists claim it may be a pre-neolithic oriental myth. What did you think?
Floors show some of the oldest evidence of terrazzo (burnt lime)
Others are bedrock. From which the large central pillars are carved into pestals. They are stone benches designed for sitting are found in the interior. And, it is unknown about roof.
Perhaps to make more efficient use of space, compared with circular structures. Later enclosures were rectangular in shape
Often associated with later Neolithic. The t-shaped pillars, are also found in the larger rectangular buildings. One has several t-pillers. It is called ‘lion pillar building’ because of the fierce looking lions carved into the rock. And, is well known. Included in the transition to semi sedentary lifestyle. For dwellings. In the earliest occupation phase, round-oval domestic structures were built alongside the large enclosures. After some time it also changed to rectangular floor plan.
Interestingly, the site was buried at some point, which preserved the site over millennia
The reasons for burying it remain a subject of debate among researchers. The enclosures though, lying over 33 ft, (or 10m) below the highest areas of the settlement. Some say, were quite severe, and early on.
There were many quaries in the area
Rocks used for monolithic architectural remains were local from the area. Profiles were cut into the limestone rock, and levered out of the rock bank. It would have not been easy. Very time consuming and heavy. If you hunt around the site a bit, there is still giant limestone pillars in some of the bedrock. As big as 23 feet high, and 50 tons. Scientists have estimated that moving the pillars alone must have involved hundreds of people. According to other experiments, one average T-shaped pillar would have taken 20 people, a year to carve. And, 50–75 people a week to transport 15 km. However, using water, lubricants, stronger ropes and crew. It could have been easier. It was obviously in reach of an extended family or neolithic village and community like this.
At the time the edifice was constructed, the surrounding country was likely to have been forested and capable of sustaining this variety of wildlife. Before millennia of human settlement and cultivation led to the near–dust bowl conditions prevalent today.
Ahead of its time. Diet was wild and wide compared to other regions in the same time period
Hunter-gatherer society challenged conventional ideas about the development of civilization. Its believed some of the construction may have been done by by hunter-gatherer. But as the transformation took place. The sites existence raises questions about the emergence of complex societies and organized religion. Its no doubt, the climate of the area was warmer and wetter than it is today. It was surrounded by an open steppe grassland, and had wild cereals. Like einkorn, wheat, and barley. Glaciers were closer and still melting. It probably brought them herds of grazing animals such as wild sheep, wild goat, gazelle, and equids more regularly. Almond and pistachio trees incorporate 90% of the charcoal recovered from the site too. They had food, materials and supplies. Tools such as grinding stones and mortars and pestles found at the site. It has been analyzed and suggest cereal processing (and, baking) was probably significant. Water too. They had a rainwater harvesting system, consisting of carved channels. It fed several cisterns carved into the bedrock below the site. 10,000 years ago, the water table was probably higher as well, and springs closer to the site.
Did you know? Vultures also feature prominently in the iconography of Çatalhöyük and Jericho.
The site is littered with flint and lithic tools
From the ridge-top site to the slopes. The tool assemblage found resembles that of other north Levantine pre-pottery neolithic sites. Cores, various blades, flakes, scrapers, burins, perforators, and projectile points. Using the right piece of flint or obsidian. They could cut limestone.
Thousands of artifacts are found. Including many more every year. It includes retouched artifacts. And, heavy duty tools.
A “totem pole” was discovered in one of the structures
192 centimetres (6.30 ft) tall, and 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) in diameter. 1)It depicts a bear or large felid missing a head 2) the neck and arms of a human (also missing head); 3) A head that is still intact. Snakes are carved on either side.
The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has had a profound impact on our understanding of early human history. It presentation of the development of complex societies, and the role of religion and symbolism in prehistoric cultures. Is unprenounced. It continues to be a subject of ongoing archaeological research and exploration. And, it will continue to attracted significant attention. From scientists and the general public alike.
Curry, Andrew (2008). “Göbekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?” (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html). Smithsonian. Vol. November 2008.
ISSN 0037-7333 (https://www.worldcat.org/issn/0037-7333).
Dietrich, Oliver; Schmidt, Klaus (2010). “A Radiocarbon Date from the Wall Plaster of Enclosure D of Göbekli Tepe” (https://www.exoriente.org/repository/NEO-LITHICS/NEO-LITHICS_2010_2.pdf) (PDF). Neo-Lithics. 2010 (2): 8.
Dietrich, Oliver; Notroff, Jens; Schmidt, Klaus (2017). “Feasting, Social Complexity, and the Emergence of the Early Neolithic of Upper Mesopotamia: A View from Göbekli Tepe”. Feast, Famine or Fighting? Multiple Pathways to Social Complexity (https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-48402-0_5). Springer International Publishing. pp. 91–132.doi:10.1007/978-3-319-48402-0_5 (https://doi.org/10.1007%2F978-3-319-48402-0_5).ISBN 978-3-319-48402-0.
Hadad, Rémi (2022). “In the shadow of monoliths: Göbekli Tepe and the monumental tradition of the Pre-Pottery Levant”. In Laporte, Luc; Large, Jean-Marc; Nespoulous,
Laurent; Scarre, Chris; Steimer-Herbet, Tara (eds.). Megaliths of the World. Oxford:Archaeopress. pp. 823–836. ISBN 978-1-80327-321-1.
Schmidt, Klaus (2000b). “Göbekli Tepe, Southeastern Turkey. A preliminary Report on the 1995–1999 Excavations” (http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4697). Paléorient. Paris. 26 (1): 45–54.doi:10.3406/paleo.2000.4697 (https://doi.org/10.3406%2Fpaleo.2000.4697).ISSN 0153-9345 (https://www.worldcat.org/issn/0153-9345).
Kinzel, Moritz; Clare, Lee (2020). “Monumental – compared to what? A perspective from Göbekli Tepe”. In Gebauer, Anne Birgitte; Sørensen, Lasse; Teather, Anne; Valera, António Carlos (eds.). Monumentalising Life in the Neolithic: Narratives of Change and Continuity (https://books.google.com/books?id=T6QGEAAAQBAJ). Oxford: Oxbow. pp. 29–48.ISBN 978-1-78925-495-2.