Post by Darci Clark
The archaeological site of Gobekli Tepe is located in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border. Considered the oldest man-made temple in the world, the site is dated to 9600 B.C.E., seven thousand years before the Great Pyramid of Giza was built. Consisting of dozens of T-shaped limestone pillars arranged into sets of rings, Gobekli Tepe is shaped similar to Stonehenge. The pillars feature carved reliefs of many different animals, reptiles, and birds.
German archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt, began excavating Gobekli Tepe in 1994, and his discoveries have called some aspects of the Neolithic Revolution theory into question. The Neolithic Revolution describes the transition of hunter-gatherers to small farming villages, and eventually to more complex, technologically advanced societies. Organized religion was also believed to have come into existence with the rise of these complex societies. Until Schmidt’s discoveries, no one believed that hunter-gatherers had the social organization, or a reason to build such a monumental ceremonial complex. Schmidt theorizes the animals carved on the pillars were guardians of the spirit world. Chanting, drumming, offerings, and feasting likely occurred among the pillars of Gobekli Tepe.
Surprisingly, no evidence of habitation, agriculture, or a water source has been found near the site. Where did the people who built this incredible temple live while the work was being performed? Even more astounding is the discovery that pillars would be intentionally buried and new ones erected every few decades. The site was filled in and rebuilt for centuries until about 8200 B.C.E.
Unbelievably, it is estimated that only 5 percent of the site has been excavated. As long as the excavations continue, Gobekli Tepe will continue to amaze and offer new insights into the evolution of the human race and the beginnings of organized religion.