Photo credit: Wikipedia Contributor Rolf Cosar, used by permission CC by SA-3.0
“Discovering that hunter-gatherers had constructed Göbekli Tepe was like finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife.” – Charles C. Mann, National Geographic Magazine, June, 2011
In 1963, archaeologists from the University of Chicago and Istanbul University examined a site known by locals as Göbekli Tepe, or "Potbelly Hill." They dismissed the site at the time as merely a medieval cemetery due to the numerous slabs of stone thought to be grave markers. However, in 1993, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, who was doing work at another Neolithic site in nearby Nevalı Çori, heard about the report and decided to investigate it for himself. What Schmidt and his team would eventually discover would turn out to be one of the most astounding, mysterious and important archaeological discoveries in history. Laying just below the surface was the earliest known sanctuary structure ever built by humans. Somehow, a group of prehistoric hunter-gathers had managed to quarry massive slabs of stone from nearby outcroppings, some weighing as much as 7 to 10 tons with lengths of up to 18 feet. They then moved them hundreds of feet into numerous circular configurations. This was done without the use of wheels or animals and before the invention of metalworking, pottery or writing. The earliest works found at the site date to over 11,000 years old, or around 9600 B.C., predating Stonehenge by at least 7000 years. While we may not know yet what belief system would motivate these ancient, primitive peoples to undertake such a monumental task, the result of their unbelievable efforts may have led to a ground-breaking theory. Instead of the previous view that the invention of the domestication of plants and animals led humans to develop civilization and with it, religious belief systems, the human desire to worship as a community may have led to farming and thus sparked civilization. As researchers are still seeking answers as to what these people believed, there are those that think the answers may be far more mystical than what many are willing to imagine.
- Göbekli Tepe on Wikipedia
- The Anatolia region of Turkey
- Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? by Andrew Curry for Smithsonian Magazine
- World's Oldest Temple to Be Restored by Andrew Curry for National Geographic, Jan 2016
- The Birth of Religion by Charles C. Mann for National Geographic Magazine
- Skull Cult at Göbekli Tepe by Jason Urbanus for Archaeology magazine
- National Geographic documentary on Göbekli Tepe
- Sun and Moon iconography and Göbekli Tepe in another National Geographic documentary
- Poverty Point prehistoric earthworks in northeastern Louisiana
- Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the "Father of Modern Archaeology"
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Episode 108: Göbekli Tepe Part 1. Produced by Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess; Audio Editing by Sarah Vorhees Wendel; Ryan McCullough Sound Design; Research Assistance by Tess Pfeifle and the astonishing League of Astonishing Researchers, a.k.a. The Astonishing Research Corps, or "A.R.C." for short. Copyright 2018 Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.