Gobekli Tepe: Oldest Monumental Architecture of Planet
Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey’s stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization
Located 35 miles north of Turkey’s border with Syria, Gobekli Tepe consists of 20 T-shaped stone towers, carved with drawings of snakes, scorpions, lions, boars, foxes and other animals.
The amazing thing about them is they date back to 9,500 BC, 5,500 years before the first cities of Mesopotamia and 7,000 years before the circle of Stonehenge.
Scientists say that back then humans hadn’t even discovered pottery or domesticated wheat. They lived in villages, had no agriculture and only relied on hunting to survive.
Göbekli Tepe had already been located in a survey in 1964, when the American archaeologist Peter Benedict mentioned the site as a possible location of stone age activity, but its importance was not recognised at that time. Excavations have been conducted since 1994 by the German Archaeological Institute (Istanbul branch) and Sanliurfa Museum, under the direction of the German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt (University of Heidelberg). The title isn’t actually doing Gobekli Tepe justice since the Turkish archaeological site is 7,000 years older than Stonehenge.
Gobekli Tepe changes everything archaeologists discovered so far and it is considered the most important archaeological find in recent history. Klaus Schmidt, the man who first discovered Gobekli Tepe says the carvings might be the first human representation of gods.
Evidence for the existence of extra-terrestrial life?
Unexplained 12,000 year old underground city, in southeastern Turkey, is made of massive carved stones, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who apparently had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.
Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for “Potbelly hill”) is a hilltop sanctuary erected on the highest point of an elongated mountain ridge some 15 km northeast of the town of Sanliurfa (formerly Urfa / Edessa) in southeastern Turkey.
The site is currently undergoing excavation by German and Turkish archaeologists.
Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient. The massive sequence of stratification layers suggests several millennia of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic. The oldest occupation layer (stratum III) contains monolithic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. Göbekli Tepe has revealed several adjacent rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime, reminiscent of Roman terrazzo floors.
Thus, the structures not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel; they were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BC. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organisation of an order of complexity not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies.
At present, Göbekli Tepe raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. We do not know how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and paid 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.
The reason the complex was eventually buried remains unexplained. Until more evidence is gathered, it is difficult to deduce anything certain about the originating culture.
Andrew Collins – Finding Eden: Mystery of Gobekli Tepe & Giza’s Cave Underworld
Description: In southeast Turkey stands the oldest temple in the world. At nearly 12,000 years old, Gobekli Tepe is an enigma to archaeology. Consisting of a series of stone circles, made up of T-shaped pillars bearing exquisite carvings of animals, birds, insects and abstract human figures, this ritual complex was constructed at the end of the last Ice Age by faceless individuals, who rose far beyond the conventional understanding of the hunter-gatherers who occupied the Eurasian continent at this time. Why were these amazing stone circles buried overnight, sometime around 10,000 year ago? It is an enigma that seems to start in Africa some 17,000 years ago, and ends with not only the creation of civilization down in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, but also in the sudden emergence of the ancient Egyptian civilization, where the story continues with the discovery in 2008 of a cave underworld beneath the plateau at Giza. Powerful evidence suggests that this underground complex existed ever before even the Pyramid Age, and might well reflect an African origin to the roots of ancient Egyptian religion. It might also hold the key to answering claims that in the vicinity of the Sphinx is a lost Hall of Records.
Biog: History and science writer Andrew Collins is a leading expert on Gobekli Tepe, and provides a powerful insight into the strange worlds both at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey and beneath the Pyramids at Giza. His books include From the Ashes of Angels (1996), Gods of Eden (1998), The Cygnus Mystery (2006), and Beneath the Pyramids (2009), in which he discovers and explores the lost underworld that exists beneath the Pyramids of Giza. Andrew, born in 1957, lives with his wife Sue in Marlborough, UK.
Filmed at the Megalithomania Conference in Glastonbury on 9th May 2010 by Nautilus AV Productions.
- Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
- Building Göbekli Tepe
- Gobekli Tepe: NG Photo Gallery
- Gobekli Tepe: Wikipedia Article
- SYMBOL, FORM AND NUMBER IN ANCIENT EGYPT
- Essay Web – Gobekli Tepe
- Do these mysterious stones mark the site of the Garden of Eden?
PS1 Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey’s stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization
Now seen as early evidence of prehistoric worship, the hilltop site was previously shunned by researchers as nothing more than a medieval cemetery.
“Guten Morgen,” he says at 5:20 a.m. when his van picks me up at my hotel in Urfa. Thirty minutes later, the van reaches the foot of a grassy hill and parks next to strands of barbed wire. We follow a knot of workmen up the hill to rectangular pits shaded by a corrugated steel roof—the main excavation site. In the pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. As we walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars’ broad sides.
Schmidt points to the great stone rings, one of them 65 feet across. “This is the first human-built holy place,” he says.
From this perch 1,000 feet above the valley, we can see to the horizon in nearly every direction. Schmidt, 53, asks me to imagine what the landscape would have looked like 11,000 years ago, before centuries of intensive farming and settlement turned it into the nearly featureless brown expanse it is today.
Prehistoric people would have gazed upon herds of gazelle and other wild animals; gently flowing rivers, which attracted migrating geese and ducks; fruit and nut trees; and rippling fields of wild barley and wild wheat varieties such as emmer and einkorn. “This area was like a paradise,” says Schmidt, a member of the German Archaeological Institute. Indeed, Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. And partly because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity’s first “cathedral on a hill.”
With the sun higher in the sky, Schmidt ties a white scarf around his balding head, turban-style, and deftly picks his way down the hill among the relics. In rapid-fire German he explains that he has mapped the entire summit using ground-penetrating radar and geomagnetic surveys, charting where at least 16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres. The one-acre excavation covers less than 5 percent of the site. He says archaeologists could dig here for another 50 years and barely scratch the surface.
Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s. As part of a sweeping survey of the region, they visited the hill, saw some broken slabs of limestone and assumed the mound was nothing more than an abandoned medieval cemetery. In 1994, Schmidt was working on his own survey of prehistoric sites in the region. After reading a brief mention of the stone-littered hilltop in the University of Chicago researchers’ report, he decided to go there himself. From the moment he first saw it, he knew the place was extraordinary.
Unlike the stark plateaus nearby, Gobekli Tepe (the name means “belly hill” in Turkish) has a gently rounded top that rises 50 feet above the surrounding landscape. To Schmidt’s eye, the shape stood out. “Only man could have created something like this,” he says. “It was clear right away this was a gigantic Stone Age site.” The broken pieces of limestone that earlier surveyors had mistaken for gravestones suddenly took on a different meaning.
The way Schmidt sees it, Gobekli Tepe’s sloping, rocky ground is a stonecutter’s dream. Even without metal chisels or hammers, prehistoric masons wielding flint tools could have chipped away at softer limestone outcrops, shaping them into pillars on the spot before carrying them a few hundred yards to the summit and lifting them upright. Then, Schmidt says, once the stone rings were finished, the ancient builders covered them over with dirt. Eventually, they placed another ring nearby or on top of the old one. Over centuries, these layers created the hilltop.
Today, Schmidt oversees a team of more than a dozen German archaeologists, 50 local laborers and a steady stream of enthusiastic students. He typically excavates at the site for two months in the spring and two in the fall. (Summer temperatures reach 115 degrees, too hot to dig; in the winter the area is deluged by rain.) In 1995, he bought a traditional Ottoman house with a courtyard in Urfa, a city of nearly a half-million people, to use as a base of operations.
On the day I visit, a bespectacled Belgian man sits at one end of a long table in front of a pile of bones. Joris Peters, an archaeozoologist from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, specializes in the analysis of animal remains. Since 1998, he has examined more than 100,000 bone fragments from Gobekli Tepe. Peters has often found cut marks and splintered edges on them—signs that the animals from which they came were butchered and cooked. The bones, stored in dozens of plastic crates stacked in a storeroom at the house, are the best clue to how people who created Gobekli Tepe lived. Peters has identified tens of thousands of gazelle bones, which make up more than 60 percent of the total, plus those of other wild game such as boar, sheep and red deer. He’s also found bones of a dozen different bird species, including vultures, cranes, ducks and geese. “The first year, we went through 15,000 pieces of animal bone, all of them wild. It was pretty clear we were dealing with a hunter-gatherer site,” Peters says. “It’s been the same every year since.” The abundant remnants of wild game indicate that the people who lived here had not yet domesticated animals or farmed.
But, Peters and Schmidt say, Gobekli Tepe’s builders were on the verge of a major change in how they lived, thanks to an environment that held the raw materials for farming. “They had wild sheep, wild grains that could be domesticated—and the people with the potential to do it,” Schmidt says. In fact, research at other sites in the region has shown that within 1,000 years of Gobekli Tepe’s construction, settlers had corralled sheep, cattle and pigs. And, at a prehistoric village just 20 miles away, geneticists found evidence of the world’s oldest domesticated strains of wheat; radiocarbon dating indicates agriculture developed there around 10,500 years ago, or just five centuries after Gobekli Tepe’s construction.
To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization. Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.
The immensity of the undertaking at Gobekli Tepe reinforces that view. Schmidt says the monuments could not have been built by ragged bands of hunter-gatherers. To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago. “This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later,” says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. “You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies.”
What was so important to these early people that they gathered to build (and bury) the stone rings? The gulf that separates us from Gobekli Tepe’s builders is almost unimaginable. Indeed, though I stood among the looming megaliths eager to take in their meaning, they didn’t speak to me. They were utterly foreign, placed there by people who saw the world in a way I will never comprehend. There are no sources to explain what the symbols might mean. Schmidt agrees. “We’re 6,000 years before the invention of writing here,” he says.
“There’s more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today,” says Gary Rollefson, an archaeologist at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, who is familiar with Schmidt’s work. “Trying to pick out symbolism from prehistoric context is an exercise in futility.”
Still, archaeologists have their theories—evidence, perhaps, of the irresistible human urge to explain the unexplainable. The surprising lack of evidence that people lived right there, researchers say, argues against its use as a settlement or even a place where, for instance, clan leaders gathered. Hodder is fascinated that Gobekli Tepe’s pillar carvings are dominated not by edible prey like deer and cattle but by menacing creatures such as lions, spiders, snakes and scorpions. “It’s a scary, fantastic world of nasty-looking beasts,” he muses. While later cultures were more concerned with farming and fertility, he suggests, perhaps these hunters were trying to master their fears by building this complex, which is a good distance from where they lived.
Danielle Stordeur, an archaeologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, emphasizes the significance of the vulture carvings. Some cultures have long believed the high-flying carrion birds transported the flesh of the dead up to the heavens. Stordeur has found similar symbols at sites from the same era as Gobekli Tepe just 50 miles away in Syria. “You can really see it’s the same culture,” she says. “All the most important symbols are the same.”
For his part, Schmidt is certain the secret is right beneath his feet. Over the years, his team has found fragments of human bone in the layers of dirt that filled the complex. Deep test pits have shown that the floors of the rings are made of hardened limestone. Schmidt is betting that beneath the floors he’ll find the structures’ true purpose: a final resting place for a society of hunters.
Perhaps, Schmidt says, the site was a burial ground or the center of a death cult, the dead laid out on the hillside among the stylized gods and spirits of the afterlife. If so, Gobekli Tepe’s location was no accident. “From here the dead are looking out at the ideal view,” Schmidt says as the sun casts long shadows over the half-buried pillars. “They’re looking out over a hunter’s dream.”
By Andrew Curry
Photographs by Berthold Steinhilber
Article Source: Smithsonian magazine, Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?
PS2 The lunisolar calendar of Göbekli Tepe
The lunisolar calendar of Göbekli Tepe, versions from Nevali Cori, Halaf, Safadi, Ghassoul, Egypt, Knossos, Tiryns, and China
Lunisolar calendar of Göbekli Tepe: a year has 12 months of 30 days, plus 5 and occasionally 6 days, while 63 continuous periods of 30 days yield 1,890 days and correspond to 64 lunations
The begin of the calendar walk was marked by a stone phallus. The calendar walk forms two loops, while the additional days at the end of the year are represented as space between the pair of central pillars. The calendar walk is at the same time a representation of the life of a supreme leader: the first pillars mark youth, the central pillars his apointment as ruler and supreme ruler, the following pillars his adult life, the final space between the pillars his death, the leaping foxes on the central pillars the guides of his soul through the Underworld back to daylight … A charming Celtic coin shows the sun horse on the early morning of the summer solstice, under it the snout of a fox peeping out of a hole in the ground – the fox that guided the sun horse through the Underworld and back to daylight
Cult building II of Nevali Cori shows 12 pillars along the walls, each representing 30 days, plus a pair of central pillars for the 5 and occasionally 6 additional days. Cult building III shows thirteen pillars along the wall, each representing 28 days, while the space between the central pillars represents one and occasionally two additional days, and this time 135 continuous periods of 28 days yielding 3’780 days corresponding to 128 lunations …
The lunisolar calendar in the version of Halaf required 6 leap days in 25 years.
Sooner or later the calendar of Göbekli Tepe was combined with an astronomical observatory in a river plain with a flat horizon, somewhere in Upper Mesopotamia. Imagine a pole or a tree of life in the center of a circle, on the circumference a dozen poles in the positions of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 o’clock, the poles of 3 6 9 12 o’clock marking the cardinal directions east south west north. Sighting lines provided by the poles allow indicate where the sun will raise and set on the mornings and evenings of the equinoxes and solstices
This calendar observatory became the Asherah sanctuary, from AS AAR RAA meaning upward (as) toward the one composed of air (aar) and light (raa).
On the lid of a curved ivory box from Beersheba I recognize a schematic representation of the Asherah sanctuary, twelve poles around a tree of life in the center, flanked by two geometric representations of AC CA, while a pendant from Ghassoul, left upper part chipped off, shows a more realistic Asherah sanctuary, with a schematic tree, branches pointing upward, and an altar in the form of a cross. A small ivory disk from Safadi shows a variant of the lunisolar calendar from Göbekli Tepe: nine perforations around a pair of central ones, each of the nine perforations representing a period of fourty days. Nine periods are 360 days, add 5 and occasionally 6 days for a year. The ratios of lunations (l) to periods of fourty days (p) yield very good additive values l/p: 4/3, 19/14, 23/17, 42/31, 65/48, 107/79 * 65/48, 42/31, 107/79, 149/110, 256/189. (All three objects mentioned in this paragraph are from the fourth millennium BC
An Egyptian month counted 30 days, a year 12 months plus 5 days. Horus was the Celestial Falcon. His right eye was the sun, his left eye was the moon. Seth destroyed the moon eye, whereupon wise Thoth healed it. The healed eye, the famous Horus Eye or wedjat (referring to the color green, the color of new life) was called The Whole One. The six elements of the Horus Eye were associated with numbers, namely the fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, or, in my simple notation, ‘2 ‘4 ‘8 ’16 ’32 ’64. These numbers add up to 63/64, not really to 1. Why then, The Whole One? The Horus Eye or wedjat, I believe, represented a lunation, from one to the next new moon, or from one to the next full moon. Multiply a month of 30 days by the Horus Eye series ‘2 ‘4 ‘8 ’16 ’32 ’64 and you obtain 29 ‘2 ’32 days, or 29 days 12 hours 45 minutes – not even a minute longer than the actual value from 1989 AD, namely 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes 2.9 seconds. With a little fantasy you can even see the wedjat eye in the moon:
The Minoan double axe may be a graphic rendering of the solstices derived from the Asherah sanctuary, as shown in this drawing, inspired by the carvings on a block at Knossos (see also the chapters on Mallia and Knossos below)
The rosette in the center of the Tiryns disk, Middle Helladic, around 1650 BC, represents another variation of the Göbekli Tepe lunisolar calendar: each petal stays for 45 days, and the small circle in the center for 5 and occasionally 6 days, while 21 continuous periods of 45 days yield 945 days and correspond to 32 lunations disc.htm
The Azilian calendar may also have been used in the Neolithic Yangshao culture, and in Banshan. Later on, the legendary first Chinese emperor Fu-hi divided the zodiac into 28 animals and mansions. This suggests a modification of the Azilian calendar: a profane week of 7 days, a profane month of 28 days, a profane year of 12 months plus 1 and occasionally 2 leap days, while 135 continual weeks of 7 days, yielding 945 days, equal 32 lunations; a sacred week of 13 days, perhaps 1-5-1-5-1 days, a sacred year of 28 weeks plus 1 and occasionally 2 leap days, while 184 continual weeks, yielding 2392 days, equal 81 lunations.
Copyright: SYMBOL, FORM AND NUMBER IN ANCIENT EGYPT
Source of this section: http://www.seshat.ch/home/calendar.htm