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Gobekli Tepe - New World Mystery

Updated on February 29, 2012

What is this place?

Gobekli Tepe located in southeastern Turkey, has become a profound mystery that we are just beginning to come to terms with. The site covers nearly 22 acres and when first discovered in the 1960's it was dismissed as a medieval cemetery. The current dig covers only one acre, or less than 5% of the total site. It is estimated there are at least 16 more megalith stone rings still buried beneath the sand and it will take decades to unearth all there is to discover there. Archaeologists generally agree the stone work at Gobekli Tepe was erected some 11,000 years ago, that's 9,000 B.C..


As scientists have come to the conclusion that Gobekli Tepe is more than 10,000 years old, we have had to reevaluate our current thinking regarding the development of civilization and what the necessary precursors to large communities and population centers must be. Scholars have believed from the beginning that only after ancient people learned to farm and cultivate crops could they gather together in permanent locations in large numbers. But after many years of careful study, archaeologists have determined that the civilization that erected Gobekli Tepe were in fact still a hunter-gatherer society. More than 100,000 bone fragments have been examined since the excavation began back in 1994 and not one of them comes from domesticated species. The bones are mostly those from gazelle, plus those of other wild game such as boar and red deer.

These findings tell us that if there is sufficient wild game to support large prehistoric populations, agriculture could have been a secondary technology leading to the development of complex Neolithic societies.

Scholars have also long held the belief that in order to organize and construct a place like Gobekli Tepe, it would be necessary not only to have a great many laborers supported by a farming community, but also a form of writing and knowledge of at least some simple math. None of these conditions seem to have been met by the builders of Gobekli Tepe.


A Bit More Perspective

It's is widely thought that the Sumerian civilization invented the first writing way back in 3300 B.C.. Gobekli Tepe predates those ancient clay tablets by 5,000 years!

Archaeologists generally agree that Stonehenge was erected about 5,000 years ago. Gobekli Tepe is estimated to be more than twice as ancient, some 6,000 years older!

Many of the limestone pillars at Gobekli Tepe weigh between seven and ten tons. On the broad side of many of the pillars are carved lions and foxes and insects. Scientists do not believe the builders of Gobekli Tepe had metal tools or even simple forms of pottery yet, but still they managed to create these enormous stonework's.


What Mysteries at Gobekli Tepe Remain?

How did they do it? Who the heck were these people?

Why are the stone pillars carved with scorpions and lions and spiders and snakes? Why not carve the prey animals who's bones were uncovered there by the thousands?

Many archaeologists think the entire site was buried on purpose. If so, why would ancient people expend so much energy to bury something they worked so hard to create?

The ancient site of Gobekli Tepe is a fantastic mystery, and possibly the real birthplace of civilization.

Information compiled from article by Andrew Curry for Smithsonian magazine @ 2008


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    • A K Turner profile image

      Joseph A K Turner 

      5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      It feels like Genesis the birthplace of modern religion to me, the world's first temple, Also heard an alternative proposal for the story of Genesis, it represents man's move from Dependence on God to Dependence on farming. Moving from hunter gatherers to farmers. What if God told them to bury the temple casting them out from his presence. I would love to go one day. It is also meant to be the birth place of Abraham.

    • darrenworks profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Lake In The Hills, IL

      Thanks for stopping to comment!

      I love these ancient mysteries too. These types of discoveries are so much fun to contemplate, and more mysteries and questions pop up everyday.

    • DFiduccia profile image


      6 years ago from Las Vegas

      I have followed this discovery for several years. The tools necessary for the engraving and erecting the monoliths were nonexistent at that time. It makes you wonder— are we alone?


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