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Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe

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Göbekli Tepe [ɡøbe̞kli te̞pɛ] is a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge in southeastern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, some 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

 (formerly Urfa / Edessa
Edessa
Edessa may refer to:*Edessa, Greece*Edessa, Mesopotamia, now Şanlıurfa, Turkey*County of Edessa, a crusader state*Osroene, an ancient kingdom and province of the Roman Empire...

). It is the oldest human-made religious structure yet discovered. The site, having been under excavation since 1994, by German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Turkish archaeologists, was most likely erected by hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

s in the 10th millennium BCE (c. 12,000 years ago). Together with Nevalı Çori
Nevali Cori
Nevalı Çori was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in the province of Şanlıurfa , eastern Turkey. The site is famous for having revealed some of the world's most ancient known temples and monumental sculpture...

, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

.

Discovery


Göbekli Tepe (Guh-behk-lee Teh-pah) is located in southeastern Turkey
Southeastern Anatolia Region
Southeastern Anatolia Region is one of Turkey's seven census-defined geographical regions . It is bordered by the Mediterranean Region to the west, the Eastern Anatolia Region to the north, Syria to the south, and Iraq to the southeast.-Provinces:...

. It was first noted by a survey
Archaeological field survey
Archaeological field survey is the method by which archaeologists search for archaeological sites and collect information about the location, distribution and organization of past human cultures across a large area...

 conducted by Istanbul University
Istanbul University
Istanbul University is a Turkish university located in Istanbul. The main campus is adjacent to Beyazıt Square.- Synopsis :A madrasa, a religious school, was established sometime in the 15th century after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. An institution of higher education named the...

 and the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 in 1964, which recognized that the hill could not entirely be a natural feature, but assumed that a Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 cemetery lay beneath. The survey noted a large number of flints and the presence of limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 slabs, which were thought to be Byzantine grave markers. In 1994, the German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute of Istanbul visited the site, and recognized that it was, in fact, a much more ancient Neolithic site. Since 1995
excavations have been conducted by the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

 (Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 branch) and Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

 Museum, under the direction of Klaus Schmidt (1995–2000: University of Heidelberg; since 2001: German Archaeological Institute). Prior to excavation, the hill had been under agricultural
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 cultivation; generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles; much archaeological evidence may have been destroyed in the process. Scholars from the Hochschule Karlsruhe began documenting the architectural remains. They soon discovered T-shaped pillars
Column
A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a vertical structural element that transmits, through compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. For the purpose of wind or earthquake engineering, columns may be designed to resist lateral forces...

, some of which had apparently undergone attempts at smashing, probably by farmers who mistook them for ordinary large rocks.

The complex



Göbekli Tepe is the oldest human-made religious structure yet discovered. The site is located on a hilltop, and contains 20 round, (now) subterranean structures, four of which have currently been excavated. Each building has a diameter of 10–30 meters, and is decorated with massive (mostly) T-shaped limestone pillars that are the most striking feature of the site. The limestone slabs were quarried from bedrock pits located around 100 meters from the hilltop, with neolithic workers using flint points to carve the bedrock. The majority of flint tools found at the site are Byblos and Nemrik points. That neolithic people with such primitive flint tools quarried, carved, transported uphill, and erected these massive pillars has astonished the archaeological world, and must have required a staggering amount of manpower and labor.

In the structures, two pillars were placed in the center of each circle, possibly to help support the roof, and up to eight pillars were evenly positioned around the walls of the room. The spaces between the pillars were lined with unworked stone, and stone benches were placed between each set of pillars around the edges of the wall.

Many of the pillars are decorated with carved
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

 relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

s of animals and of abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

 enigmatic pictogram
Pictogram
A pictograph, also called pictogram or pictogramme is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to considerable extent pictorial in appearance.Pictography is a...

s. The pictograms may represent commonly understood sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, as known from Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 cave paintings elsewhere. The reliefs depict lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, donkeys, snakes and other reptiles, insects, arachnids, and birds, particularly vultures. (At the time the shrine was constructed, the surrounding country was much lusher and capable of sustaining this variety of wildlife, before millennia of settlement and cultivation resulted in the near–Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

 conditions prevailing today.) Vultures also feature prominently in the iconography of the Neolithic sites of Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE...

 and Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

; it is believed that in the early Neolithic culture of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 the deceased were deliberately exposed in order to be excarnated by vultures and other carrion birds. (The head of the deceased was sometimes removed and preserved—possibly a sign of ancestor worship.) This, then, would represent an early form of sky burial
Sky burial
Sky burial, or ritual dissection, is a funerary practice in Tibet, wherein a human corpse was incised in certain locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements and animals – especially to predatory birds. The locations of preparation and sky burial are understood in the...

, as practiced today by Tibetan Buddhists and by Zoroastrians in India. Danielle Stordeur
Danielle Stordeur
Danielle Stordeur is a French Archaeologist and Directeur de Recherche at the CNRS. She is also Director of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent mission to El Kowm-Mureybet , replacing Jacques Cauvin in 1993 until 2010, when Frédéric Abbès is due to take over this position.-Positions...

, an archaeologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, emphasizes the significance of the vulture carvings; she has found similar symbols at sites from the same era as Göbekli Tepe just 50 miles away in Syria. In her words describing excavations at Tell Aswad
Tell Aswad
Tell Aswad , Su-uk-su, Shuksa or Tell Sukas is a large prehistoric, Neolithic Tell, about in size, located around from Damascus in Syria, on a tributary of the Balikh River at the eastern end of the village of Jdeidet el Khass.-Excavation:...

, "You can really see it's the same culture."

Few humanoid figures have surfaced at Göbekli Tepe, but they include the engraving of a naked woman posed frontally in a crouched position that Schmidt likens to the Venus accueillante figures found in Neolithic north Africa, and a decapitated corpse surrounded by vultures in bas-relief. Some of the T-shaped pillars picture human arms, which indicate that they represent the bodies of stylized humans (or anthropomorphic gods). The wider stone member atop the T-shaped pillars is thought to symbolize the head; thus the pillars as a whole have an anthropomorphic identity. One example is decorated with human hands in what could be interpreted as a prayer gesture, with a simple stole or surplice engraved above; this may be intended to signify a temple priest.

Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient, and with such primitive quarrying tools. The massive sequence of stratification
Stratification (archeology)
Stratification is a paramount and base concept in archaeology, especially in the course of excavation. It is largely based on the Law of Superposition...

 layers suggests several millennia
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

 of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic
Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

. The oldest occupation layer (Layer III) contains monolith
Monolith
A monolith is a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock, or a single piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument...

ic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. Four such buildings have been uncovered, with diameters between 10–30 m (32.8–98.4 ). Geophysical surveys indicate the existence of 16 additional structures.

Layer II, dated to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) (7500–6000 BC), has revealed several adjacent rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime, reminiscent of Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 terrazzo
Terrazzo
Terrazzo is a composite material poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips, sprinkled or unsprinkled, and poured with a binder that is cementitious, chemical or a combination of both...

 floors. The most recent layer consists of sediment
Sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 deposited as the result of agricultural activity.

Dating


The PPN A
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A denotes the first stage in early Levantine Neolithic culture, dating around 9500 to 8500 BC. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent...

 settlement has been dated to c. 9000 BCE. There are remains of smaller houses from the PPN B
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B is a division of the Neolithic developed by Dame Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the southern Levant region....

 and a few epipalaeolithic finds as well.

There are a number of radiocarbon dates
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 (presented with one standard deviation
Standard deviation
Standard deviation is a widely used measure of variability or diversity used in statistics and probability theory. It shows how much variation or "dispersion" there is from the average...

 errors
Margin of error
The margin of error is a statistic expressing the amount of random sampling error in a survey's results. The larger the margin of error, the less faith one should have that the poll's reported results are close to the "true" figures; that is, the figures for the whole population...

 and calibrations to BCE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

):
Lab-Number  Date BP Cal BC Context
Ua-19561 8430 ± 80 7560–7370 enclosure C
Ua-19562 8960 ± 85 8280–7970 enclosure B
Hd-20025 9452 ± 73 9110–8620 Layer III
Hd-20036 9559 ± 53 9130–8800 Layer III


The Hd samples are from charcoal in the lowest levels of the site and would date the active phase of occupation. The Ua samples come from pedogenic
Pedogenesis
Pedogenesis is the science and study of the processes that lead to the formation of soil ' and first explored by the Russian geologist Vasily Dokuchaev , the so called grandfather of soil science, who determined that soil formed over time as a consequence of...

 carbonate
Carbonate
In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid, characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion, . The name may also mean an ester of carbonic acid, an organic compound containing the carbonate group C2....

 coatings on pillars and only indicate a time after the site was abandoned—the terminus ante quem.

Architecture



The structures are round megalithic buildings. The walls are made of unworked dry stone and include numerous T-shaped monolithic pillars of limestone that are up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) high. Another, bigger pair of pillars is placed in the centre of the structures. There is evidence that the structures were roofed; the central pair of pillars may have supported the roof. The floors are made of terrazzo
Terrazzo
Terrazzo is a composite material poured in place or precast, which is used for floor and wall treatments. It consists of marble, quartz, granite, glass or other suitable chips, sprinkled or unsprinkled, and poured with a binder that is cementitious, chemical or a combination of both...

 (burnt lime), and there is a low bench running along the whole of the exterior wall.

The reliefs on the pillars include fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s, cattle, hyena
Hyena
Hyenas or Hyaenas are the animals of the family Hyaenidae of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora , and one of the smallest in the mammalia...

s, wild boar, wild asses
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

, heron
Heron
The herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds in the family Ardeidae. There are 64 recognised species in this family. Some are called "egrets" or "bitterns" instead of "heron"....

s, duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

s, scorpion
Scorpion
Scorpions are predatory arthropod animals of the order Scorpiones within the class Arachnida. They have eight legs and are easily recognized by the pair of grasping claws and the narrow, segmented tail, often carried in a characteristic forward curve over the back, ending with a venomous stinger...

s, ants, spiders, many snakes, and a small number of anthropomorphic figures. Some of the reliefs have been deliberately erased, maybe in preparation for new designs. There are freestanding sculptures as well that may represent wild boars or foxes. As they are heavily encrusted with lime, it is sometimes difficult to tell. Comparable statues have been discovered at Nevalı Çori
Nevali Cori
Nevalı Çori was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in the province of Şanlıurfa , eastern Turkey. The site is famous for having revealed some of the world's most ancient known temples and monumental sculpture...

 and Nahal Hemar
Nahal Hemar
- External links :* retrieved 20:04 14.10.11...

.
The quarries for the statues are located on the plateau itself; some unfinished pillars have been found there in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

. The biggest unfinished pillar is still 6.9 metres (22.6 ft) long; a length of 9m has been reconstructed. This is much larger than any of the finished pillars found so far. The stone was quarried with stone picks. Bowl-like depressions in the limestone rocks may already have served as mortars or fire-starting bowls in the epipalaeolithic. There are some phalloi and geometric patterns cut into the rock as well; their dating is uncertain.

Creation of the circular enclosures in layer III later gave way to the construction of small rectangular rooms in layer II. But the T-shaped pillars, the main feature of the older enclosures, survived, indicating that the buildings of Layer II likewise served as sanctuaries. Schmidt believes this "cathedral on a hill" was a pilgrimage destination attracting worshipers up to a 100 miles (160.9 km) distant. Butchered bones found in large numbers from local game such as deer, gazelle, pigs, and geese have been identified as refuse derived from hunting and food prepared for the congregants.

The site was deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BC: the buildings are covered with debris, mostly flint gravel, stone tools, and animal bones, which must have been brought from elsewhere. The lithic inventory is characterised by Byblos points and numerous Nemrik-points. There are Helwan-points and Aswad
Aswad
Aswad are a long-lasting British reggae group, noted for adding strong R&B and soul influences to the reggae sound. They have been performing since the mid 1970s, having released a total of twenty-one albums.-History:...

-points as well.

Economy


While the site formally belongs to the earliest Neolithic (PPNA), up to now no traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found. The inhabitants are assumed to be hunters and gatherers who nevertheless lived in villages for at least part of the year. Schmidt speculates that the site played a key function in the transition to agriculture; he assumes that the necessary social organization needed for the creation of these structures went hand-in-hand with the organized exploitation of wild crops. For sustenance, wild cereals may have been used more intensively than before; perhaps they were even deliberately cultivated. Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Mount Karaca Dağ
Karaca Dag
Karaca is a shield volcano located in eastern Turkey. According to Der Spiegel of either 6 March or 3 June 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Breeding Research in Cologne has discovered that the genetically common ancestor of 68 contemporary types of cereal still grows as a wild plant on the slopes...

 20 miles (32.2 km) away from the site, leading one to believe that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.

Schmidt considers Göbekli Tepe a central location for a cult of the dead. He suggests that the carved animals are there to protect the dead. Though no tomb
Tomb
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes...

s or grave
Grave (burial)
A grave is a location where a dead body is buried. Graves are usually located in special areas set aside for the purpose of burial, such as graveyards or cemeteries....

s have been found so far, Schmidt believes they remain to be discovered beneath the sacred circles' floors. Schmidt also interprets it in connection with the initial stages of an incipient Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

. It is one of several neolithic sites in the vicinity of Mount Karaca Dağ
Karaca Dag
Karaca is a shield volcano located in eastern Turkey. According to Der Spiegel of either 6 March or 3 June 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Breeding Research in Cologne has discovered that the genetically common ancestor of 68 contemporary types of cereal still grows as a wild plant on the slopes...

, an area where geneticists
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 suspect the origins of at least some of our cultivated grains (see Einkorn). Such scholars suggest that the Neolithic revolution
Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. Archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in 6 separate locations worldwide circa...

, i.e., the beginnings of grain cultivation, took place here. Schmidt and others believe that mobile groups in the area were forced to cooperate with each other to protect early concentrations of wild cereals from wild animals (herds of gazelles and wild donkeys). This would have led to an early social organization of various groups in the area of Göbekli Tepe. Thus, according to Schmidt, the Neolithic did not begin on a small scale in the form of individual instances of garden cultivation, but started immediately as a large-scale social organisation ("a full-scale revolution.)"

Chronological context


All statements about the site must be considered preliminary, as only about 5% of the site's total area has yet been excavated. Schmidt believes that the dig could well continue for another fifty years, "and barely scratch the surface." Floor levels have been reached in three of the Layer III enclosures; enclosure B contains a terrazzo-like floor; in enclosures C and D the floors were found to be natural bedrock, carefully smoothed. So far, excavations have revealed very little evidence for residential use. Through the radiocarbon
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 method, the end of Layer III can be fixed at c. 9000 BC (see above); its beginnings are estimated to 11,000 BC or earlier. Layer II dates to about 8000 BC.

Thus, the structures not only predate pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

, and the invention of writing
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 or the wheel
Wheel
A wheel is a device that allows heavy objects to be moved easily through rotating on an axle through its center, facilitating movement or transportation while supporting a load, or performing labor in machines. Common examples found in transport applications. A wheel, together with an axle,...

; they were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution
Neolithic Revolution
The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution. It was the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. Archaeological data indicates that various forms of plants and animal domestication evolved independently in 6 separate locations worldwide circa...

, i.e., the beginning of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and animal husbandry
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock.- History :Animal husbandry has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals....

 around 9000 BC. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organisation of an order of complexity not hitherto associated with Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

, PPNA, or PPNB
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B is a division of the Neolithic developed by Dame Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the southern Levant region....

 societies. The archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries
Quarry
A quarry is a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted. Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often collocated with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement...

 and move them 100–500 m (328.1–1,640.4 ) to the site. The pillars weigh 10 metric ton; with one found still in its quarry weighing 50 tons. It is generally believed that an elite class of religious leaders supervised the work and later controlled whatever ceremonies took place here. If so, this would be the oldest known evidence for a priestly caste—much earlier than such social distinctions developed elsewhere in the Near East.

Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BC "Potbelly Hill" lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area, and the "stone-age zoo" (as Schmidt calls it) depicted on the pillars apparently lost whatever significance it had had for the region's older, foraging, communities. But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 m³ (392.4 to 654 cuyd) of debris consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools; many animal, even human bones, are also found in the burial refuse. Why exactly the enclosures were backfilled is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

Interpretation and importance



Göbekli Tepe is regarded as an archaeological discovery of the greatest importance since it could profoundly change our understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human societies. It seems that the erection of monumental complexes was within the capacities of hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

s and not only of sedentary farming communities as had been previously thought. In other words, as excavator Klaus Schmidt puts it: "First came the temple, then the city." This revolutionary hypothesis
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

 will have to be supported or modified by future research.

Not only its large dimensions, but the side-by-side existence of multiple pillar shrines makes the location unique. There are no comparable monumental complexes from its time. Nevalı Çori
Nevali Cori
Nevalı Çori was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in the province of Şanlıurfa , eastern Turkey. The site is famous for having revealed some of the world's most ancient known temples and monumental sculpture...

, a well-known Neolithic settlement also excavated by the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

, and submerged by the Atatürk Dam
Atatürk Dam
The Atatürk Dam , originally the Karababa Dam, is a zoned rock-fill dam with a central core on the Euphrates River on the border of Adıyaman Province and Şanlıurfa Province in Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey...

 since 1992, is 500 years later, its T-shaped pillars are considerably smaller, and its shrine was located inside a village; the roughly contemporary architecture at Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 is devoid of artistic merit or large-scale sculpture; and Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE...

, perhaps the most famous of all Anatolian Neolithic villages, is 2,000 years younger.

Schmidt has engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumes shamanic
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

 practices and suggests that the T-shaped pillars may represent mythical creatures, perhaps ancestors, whereas he sees a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, associated with extensive temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

s and palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

s. This corresponds well with an ancient Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry and weaving had been brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Du-Ku
Du-Ku
-Translations:According to Wasilewska et al, du-ku translates as "holy hill", "holy mound" [...E-dul-kug... ], or "great mountain" -Divine:...

, which was inhabited by Annuna—deities, very ancient gods without individual names. Klaus Schmidt identifies this story as an oriental primeval myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic. It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e., there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures such as lions, snakes, spiders and scorpions.

At present, Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 and prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 than it answers. We do not know how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and rewarded or fed in the conditions of pre-Neolithic society. We cannot "read" the pictograms, and do not know for certain what meaning the animal reliefs had for visitors to the site; the variety of fauna depicted, from lions and boars to birds and insects, makes any single explanation problematic. As there seems to be little or no evidence of habitation, and the animals depicted on the stones are mainly predators, the stones may have been intended to stave off evils through some form of magic representation; it is also possible that they served as totems. The assumption that the site was strictly cultic in purpose and not inhabited has also been challenged by the suggestion that the structures served as large communal houses, "similar in some ways to the large plank houses of the Northwest Coast of North America with their impressive house posts and totem poles." It is not known why every few decades the existing pillars were buried to be replaced by new stones as part of a smaller, concentric ring inside the older one. Human burial may or may not have occurred at the site. The reason the complex was eventually backfilled remains unexplained. Until more evidence is gathered, it is difficult to deduce anything certain about the originating culture or the site's significance.

Conservation


In 2010, Global Heritage Fund
Global Heritage Fund
Global Heritage Fund is a non-profit organization that operates internationally. Its mission statement says that it exists to protect and preserve significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in the developing world, through scientific excellence and community development...

 (GHF) announced it will undertake a multi-year conservation program to preserve Göbekli Tepe. The first conservation program in the site's history, partners include Klaus Schmidt and the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

, German Research Foundation, Şanlıurfa
Sanliurfa
Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language , in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323 inhabitants Şanlıurfa, , often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhoy,Armenian Ուռհա Owr'ha, Arabic الرها ar-Ruhā), in ancient times Edessa, is a city with 482,323...

 Municipal Government, and Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The stated goals of the GHF Göbekli Tepe project are to support the preparation of a Site Management and Conservation Plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training local community members in guiding and conservation, and helping Turkish authorities secure UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination.

External links



Articles

Photographs

Videos
  • http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xemy0x_gobeklitepe-the-world-s-first-templ_shortfilms
  • Göbekli Tepe Reconstructed from YouTube
    YouTube
    YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....