i. Oldest Temple
in the World
Covering an area the
size of three tennis courts, the archaeological site known as Göbekli
Tepe in South-east Turkey is known as the oldest temple in the world.
Consisting of a series of sub-surface cult buildings, it is to be found
on the top of a ridge overlooking a fertile agricultural landscape,
north-east of the modern city of Saniurfa. According to the German archaeologists
who have been excavating here since 1995, Göbekli Tepe, as much
as 11,500 years old, was constructed by faceless individuals (+/- 500
years) belonging to an epoch known as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. This
was a transitional stage between the hunter gatherers of the still present
Ice Age, and the more settled agricultural communities that emerged
on the banks of the Euphrates river shortly after the ice sheets receded,
causing a gradual change in temperature and environment.
|Why exactly Göbekli
Tepe was built even before this took place remains a mystery. All
that makes sense is that the various linear structures with roofs
supported by carved T-shaped pillars, displaying a wide range of
animals, birds, serpents, spiders and anthropomorphs of a quality
unequalled thereafter until the emergence of the Sumerian and Akkadian
civilizations down in the fertile plains of Iraq thousands of years
later. What was the purpose of these incredible prehistoric structures?
Might they be aligned to the stars like megalithic monuments worldwide?
Stone with serpent
carving from Karahan Tepe ( photo: Harran University )
Nearby is another Pre-Pottery
Neolithic site called Karahan Tepe, which dates to a similar age
as Göbekli Tepe. Stone rows, T-shaped stone pillars, and
other standing stones cover an area the size of a soccer field.
One day it will, I believe, prove to be even more important than
Göbekli Tepe. Exactly what the mindset was behind those who
created Early Neolithic sites such as Göbekli Tepe and Karahan
Tepe is a complete mystery. Who were these faceless individuals,
and what inspired them to construct such incredible monuments
at the end of the Last Ice Age?
of the structure of the sperm to the carving on the stone to the