Gobekli Tepe is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge, 6 miles from Urfa in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey.
It was constructed in about 9600-7300 BCE
The tell has a height of 15m (49 ft) and is about 300m (984 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760m (2,493 ft) above sea level.
It has been excavated by a German archaeological team that was under the direction of Klaus Schmidt, scientist at the University of Heidelberg from 1996 until his death in 2014.
The tell includes 2 phases of ritual use dating back to about 10th-8th millennium BCE.
Circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected in this phase. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6m (20 ft) and a weight of up to 20tons.
The erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime in this Phase. Younger structures date to classical times.
The function of the structures is not yet clear but according to excavator Klaus Schmidt, they are early Neolithic sanctuaries.
In a survey by Istanbul University and the University of Chicago, the site was first noted in 1963.
Firstly when it was discovered during the survey of universities, American archaeologist Peter Benedict identified it as being possibly Neolithic and postulated that the Neolithic layers were topped by Byzantine and Islamic cemeteries
The survey noted numerous flints, huge limestone slabs and upper parts of the T-shaped pillars, were thought to be grave markers. The hill had long been under agricultural cultivation, and generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles, possibly destroying archaeological evidence in the process.
Gobekli Tepe is situated on a flat and barren plateau
Most structures on the plateau seem to be the result of Neolithic quarrying
Less than 5% of the site has been excavated, and Schmidt planned to leave much of it untouched to be explored by future generations
No traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found.
The biggest T-shaped pillars has a length of 7m (23 ft) and its head has a width of 3m (10 ft). Its weight may be around 50 tons. The two other unfinished pillars lie on the southern Plateau.
At the western edge of the hill, a lion like figure was found.
Gobekli Tepe is a stone-age mountain sanctuary and was a central location for a cult of dead and that the carved animals are there to protect the dead.
In 2010, Global Heritage Fund (GHF) announced it will undertake a multi-year conservation program to preserve Gobekli Tepe. The stated goals of the project are to support the preparation of a site management and conservation plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training community members in guiding and conservation.
The pillars were big and the tallest are 18ft in height and weigh 16tons, they were set only 15inches into the ground, where they were fixed with clay and stone.
Most of the pillars located there are T-based and some have different kind of animals (bulls, snakes, foxes, cranes, lions, etc) carved into them. The carvings are considered to be some kind of a communication system like messages and the latest excavations have revealed that these structures likely covered the entire hillside and could number as many as 20 in total.
Some Carvings: –
Real animal pelts may have hung on the pillars as offerings. The bones of a fox, for example, were found near one of the central pillars.
What makes it Different?
Though it’s almost 12,000 years old but still displays unique archaeological findings of its time. These features make Gobekli Tepe incomparable and magnificent.
Do you Know?
Gobekli Tepe has been interpreted as the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered.
Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge, Waylan’s Smithy are far younger than Gobekli Tepe.
They had the simplest and the only technology; stone tools, to chip enormous blocks of limestone into pillars. Then hundreds of people would work together to move the pillars anywhere from 100-500m to the complex.
Yet another interesting discovery at Gobekli Tepe are the humanoid statues.
Gobekli Tepe raises more questions than it answers but future discoveries will surely reveal many untold and unknown secrets of this strange Site!!