In the northeast of southeastern Şanlıurfa city, Göbekli Tepe is a major archaeological site for researchers around the world. Numerous artifacts have been unearthed during its archaeological excavations. Characterized as “the zero point of history,” Göbekli Tepe dates back 12,000 years and was declared a first-degree protection area in 2015. This ancient world wonder was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2018.
Located in Örencik, 18 kilometers from the center of Şanlıurfa, Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in 1963 during surface surveys carried out by researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago. Since 1995, the Şanlıurfa Museum and the German Archaeology Institute have been collaborating on the excavations. Primary results of excavations and surveys suggest that Göbekli Tepe was a major meeting center composed of monumental structures built for ceremonial purposes.
First temple in the world
Gobekli Tepe, which is actually a complex comprised of many temples, may have been the first temple in the world made by man. Evidence found at the site shows that it was used for religious purposes. Most of the pillars located there are T-based, up to 6 meters high, and have different kind of animals (bulls, snakes, foxes, cranes, lions, etc) carved into them. The most astonishing thing is that each pillar weighs between 40-60 tons, causing speculation as to how it was possible for prehistoric men to have built such a monument when basic tools had not yet been invented.
A challenge to human history
Gobekli Tepe is more than just an old temple. It’s a discovery that forces us to seriously rethink some of the biggest ideas about how human civilization began.
The fact that Göbekli Tepe is so old isn’t the only significant thing about it. The skilled architectural style seen in the construction of its many “temples” is seriously impressive, and would be in any era. The combination of the site’s age and construction quality, however, is what makes it such an earth-shaking revelation for the archaeological world. The craftsmanship seen at Göbekli Tepe is thousands of years ahead of its time, and dates back to long before such construction should have been possible. The manpower, engineering, and project managing required for such an endeavor all seem unfeasible, given where human civilization was understood to be at the time. The very existence of Göbekli Tepe has forced archaeologists to re-think the dawn of civilization.
Is it possible that what we know about the ‘uncivilized and primitive’ prehistoric men is not at all true? Is it possible that advanced civilizations existed before 6000 BCE and their tracks are simply lost in time? Or is it possible that extra-terrestrials interfered and helped men to build monuments throughout the history of humanity? The questions are certainly compelling.