Gobekli Tepe: Stones More Unique Than Stonehenge?

Located in Turkey, there is an amazing site to behold. I did not know a good amount about Stone Henge until I took this course but knowing what I know about Stone Henge and then reading about this site, led to an interesting find for myself. The massive stones located at the site, Gobekli Tepe are said to pre-date those of Stone Henge by around 6,000 years (Curry, 2008, November). German Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt is convinced that this site is home to the worlds oldest temple.

Gobekli Tepe means “Navel Hill” in Turkish, and it is a fitting title for the site which sits at 780 meters and is the highest point for kilometers around it (Curry, 2008, January). One interesting fact about this site is that the first time it was examined was actually in the 1960’s by University of Chicago and the University of Istanbul. The anthropologists who came to the site and sort of just passed it over as an abandoned cemetery (Curry, 2008, November). Schmidt eventually came later in the 90’s and began to uncover the grand site. One of the more amazing findings is that all of the work was done without the use of metallic tools. Some of the pillars even have artwork inscribed into them, which is a good find in the effort to find out more about the people who might have stayed at this site thousands of years ago. Thousands of bones at the site show that there was plenty of animals around and about that hint to the clear fact that the site is that of a hunter-gatherers site. Schmidt states that the construction of this site potentially could have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be provided with a type of housing and food. He points to the fact that these were not your run of the mill hunter-gatherers (Curry, 2008, November).

While not much evidence of direct settlement is available, many of those interested or working on the site have an opinion on that fact. Ofer Bar-Yosef, a Harvard Archaeologist says, “It’s impossible to have such a large site without people there to take care of it” and “They haven’t found much human habitation but, they will” (Curry, 2008, January).

Another argument Schmidt offers about the site is in support of the fact that religion or worship might have come before some forms of human development, such as the ability to hold domesticated animals and to grow crops. He says the lack of domesticated animal remains and plant remains at the site is proof of this (Curry, 2008, January). I think that its only a matter of time until bigger strides are made at this site in which new findings are most likely being made often. Maybe this is the worlds oldest temple, and maybe eventually some evidence of settlement at the site will be present in a clearer light


Curry, A. (2008, November). Gobekli tepe: The world’s first temple?. Smithsonian Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/davidson/Proseminar/Week 15 cosmology, spirituality and religion/Curry 2008.pdf

Curry, A. (2008, January 18). Seeking the roots of ritual. Science Magazine, 319, Retrieved from http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/davidson/Proseminar/Week 15 cosmology, spirituality and religion/Curry 2008.pdf