About Gobekli Tepe
Older than Stonehenge by 6,000 years, 7,000 years older than the Great Pyramids, and 1,000 older than the walls of Jericho, formerly believed to be the world’s most ancient monumental structure, Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey has literally rewritten human history.
History of Gobekli Tepe
Thanks to this sensational 12,000 year old discovery by a team from the German Archaeological Institute led by Professor Klaus Schmidt, Göbekli Tepe is regarded as a find of such profound importance that it may well change our current understanding that agriculture and permanent settlements came first then religion followed – a paradigm shift in the knowledge of a crucial stage of our societal development.
Academics are calling Göbekli Tepe the ‘world’s first temple’ and it’s an example that huge complexes were well within the capabilities of early hunter-gatherers, an assumption never previously considered. Göbekli Tepe may very well be the very first thing human beings every built. It pre-dates pottery, domesticated animals, and agriculture and Professor Schmidt postulates that Göbekli Tepe was the catalyst for these things to follow. He called it ‘the Rome of the Ice Age’.
There are at least 20 installations each enclosed by a wall as well as T-shaped pillars between three and six metres high weighing 40-60 tonnes, some with human-like appendages and some with carvings of animals such as foxes, snakes, boars and ducks.
Similarly to Stonehenge, questions remain as to how the huge monoliths got to their locations, how intricate carvings were made when even rudimentary hand tools were rare, how they were stood up on end when complex engineering of that type was centuries away, as was farming, the ability to create blueprint for construction, and even permanent settlements. The next temples of this size and complexity date from five thousand years after Göbekli Tepe. The significance of this site cannot be understated.
Gobekli Tepe Today
Only a small percentage of the site has been excavated, with only 4 circles having been exposed in the main excavation site out of over 20 in total.
Despite being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2018, the site has not yet been ‘discovered’ by tourists.
For an introduction to the site, visit the impressive Sanliurfa museum, which displays artefacts discovered at the site, including the oldest full size stone sculpture of man in the world.
Getting to Gobekli Tepe
The temple is only 12 kilometers outside the ancient city of Sanliurfa which is the perfect base to visit the site.
The cheapest way to get there is by public transport. The Sanliurfa city council have put on a bus that leaves 3 times a day to and from Sanliurfa. The first bus of the day leaves from the Museum at 9.45 and the Abide bus station at 10.00 The bus costs 5 TL each way and you pay the driver on the bus. It returns at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm.