The Ancients
Göbekli Tepe
A place of worship dating back to 9000 B.C.
Dr.Klaus Schmidt
Dr. Klaus Schmidt
An extraordinary discovery of a place of worship dating back to 9000 B.C. has been made in Turkey.
Angelica Portagnuolo - Archaeology | | News | * | English


In the south of Turkey, in Göbekli Tepe, in an area well-known as "Mount of belly button", a giant and mysterious work of architecture has been brought to light by an equipe of researchers from Dai (German Archeological Institute of Istanbul) and from the museum of Urfa, under the direction of Klaus Schmidt, a German archaeologist. 

The excavation campaign, which started in 1994, has soon revealed the presence of finds, which are outstanding and unique in their genre: a templar structure made of 240 pilasters which are around 4 meters high and form a range of concentric circles. 

These circles appear to date back to around 9000 B.C. and are completely buried underground. Most of the pilasters have engravings on the surface referring to either the religious sphere or the daily life of those who used to go to the site of worship. 

For example, one of the engraving represents a pig and two ducks flying in the net. 

The discoverer says: "I believe that Göbekli Tepe celebrates the catch, the lifestyle of hunters-pickers". "Why should it not be?" 

"It was such a rich and easy life that offered them enough spare time to devote themselves to sculpture". 

The hunters of Göbekli decided to leave the temple in around 8000 B.C., probably because the need to feed more people that used to meet in this place for religious purposes, caused a change of the ecosystem of the territory itself. 

Göbekli Tepe Current view of the excavation area
©Copyright 2002-2006 German Archaeological Institute,
Göbekli Tepe Current view of the excavation area 

It might have happened that lots of trees were chopped down and many animals which were "easy prey of these hunters" were chased away. By looking at the top of brownish and dry hills, you can deduct that the heavenly earth had become indeed an uncultivated and bare plain. 

It is a surprise to discover how these Neolithic semi nomad hunters had managed to build such a work of architecture by assembling both the religious and the social aspects in a refined and complex way. 

This is something even more ancient than the so well-known anatolic sanctuaries of Çatal Hűyűk dating back to 6500 B.C. Following a first research on the findings, Schmidt sustains that the temple might have been linked to the story of Eden, as told in the Bible. 

According to the Muslims, Sanliurfa, a city close to Göbekli, should be the city called Ur, as mentioned in the Bible; the rivers that flow down from Heaven could be, instead, Tigris and Euphrates which wet the half-moon shaped fertile area where Göbekli Tepe is located; in the Bible it is told that some mountains surround Eden and that by looking at the top of Göbekli hills you can see the mountainous chain of Taurus. 

It still a mystery how a population, apparently not civilized yet, could have built such a big place of worship with pilasters of fifty tons weight, in such a historical and ancient period; it is important to remember, indeed, that the only place comparable to this one, which has been discovered, is Stonehenge in Great Britain which dates back to 3100 B.C.


Mellaart J., The Neolitic of the Near East, New York, 1976, pp. 114-135


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