Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe (Turkish: [ɟœbecˈli teˈpe],[1] Turkish for "Potbelly Hill")[2] is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 ft) in diameter.[3] It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level.

The tell includes two phases of use, believed to be of a social or ritual nature by site discoverer and excavator Klaus Schmidt, dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.[4] During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world's oldest known megaliths.[5]

More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock.[6] In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). Younger structures date to classical times.

The details of the structure's function remain a mystery. It was partially excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. In 2018, the site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.[7]

Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe, Urfa
The ruins of Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe is located in Turkey
Göbekli Tepe
Shown within Turkey
LocationÖrencik, Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey
Coordinates37°13′23″N 38°55′21″E / 37.22306°N 38.92250°ECoordinates: 37°13′23″N 38°55′21″E / 37.22306°N 38.92250°E
Founded10th millennium BCE
Abandoned8th millennium BCE
PeriodsPre-Pottery Neolithic A to B
Site notes
ConditionWell preserved
Official nameGöbekli Tepe
Criteria(i), (ii), (iv)
Designated2018 (42nd session)
Reference no.1572
State PartyTurkey
RegionWestern Asia


Göbekli Tepe site (1)
Göbekli Tepe site (1)

The site was first noted in a survey conducted by Istanbul University and the University of Chicago in 1963.[8] American archaeologist Peter Benedict identified lithics collected from the surface of the site as belonging to the Aceramic Neolithic,[9] but mistook stone slabs (the upper parts of the T-shaped pillars) for grave markers, postulating that the prehistoric phase was overlain by a Byzantine cemetery.[10][11] The hill had long been under agricultural cultivation, and generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles, which may have disturbed the upper layers of the site. At some point attempts had been made to break up some of the pillars, presumably by farmers who mistook them for ordinary large rocks.[4]

In 1994, Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute, who had previously been working at Nevalı Çori, was looking for another site to excavate. He reviewed the archaeological literature on the surrounding area, found the 1963 Chicago researchers’ brief description of Göbekli Tepe, and decided to reexamine the site. Having found similar structures at Nevalı Çori, he recognized the possibility that the rocks and slabs were prehistoric. The following year, he began excavating there in collaboration with the Şanlıurfa Museum, and soon unearthed the first of the huge T-shaped pillars.[4]


Göbekli Tepe
View of site and excavation
Earliest carbon 14 dates for Göbekli Tepe as of 2013
Earliest carbon 14 dates for Göbekli Tepe as of 2013.[12]

The imposing stratigraphy of Göbekli Tepe attests to many centuries of activity, beginning at least as early as the Epipaleolithic period. Structures identified with the succeeding period, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), have been dated to the 10th millennium BCE. Remains of smaller buildings identified as Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) and dating from the 9th millennium BCE have also been unearthed.

A number of radiocarbon dates have been published:

Lab-Number Context cal BCE
Ua-19561 enclosure C 7560–7370
Ua-19562 enclosure B 8280–7970
Hd-20025 Layer III 9110–8620
Hd-20036 Layer III 9130–8800

The Hd samples are from charcoal in the fill of the lowest levels of the site and would date the end of the active phase of occupation of Level III - the actual structures will be older. The Ua samples come from pedogenic carbonate coatings on pillars and only indicate the time after the site was abandoned—the terminus ante quem.[13]


Göbekli Tepe is on a flat and barren plateau, with buildings fanning in all directions. In the north, the plateau is connected to a neighbouring mountain range by a narrow promontory. In all other directions, the ridge descends steeply into slopes and steep cliffs.[14] On top of the ridge there is considerable evidence of human impact, in addition to the construction of the tell. Excavations have taken place at the southern slope of the tell, south and west of a mulberry that marks an Islamic pilgrimage,[15] but archaeological finds come from the entire plateau. The team has also found many remains of tools.


Göbekli Tepe surrounding area
Göbekli Tepe surrounding area
Complex E

The plateau has been transformed by erosion and by quarrying, which took place not only in the Neolithic, but also in classical times. There are four 10-metre-long (33 ft) and 20-centimetre-wide (7.9 in) channels on the southern part of the plateau, interpreted as the remains of an ancient quarry from which rectangular blocks were taken. These possibly are related to a square building in the neighbourhood, of which only the foundation is preserved. Presumably, this is the remains of a Roman watchtower that belonged to the Limes Arabicus, however, this is conjecture.[16]

Most structures on the plateau seem to be the result of Neolithic quarrying, with the quarries being used as sources for the huge, monolithic architectural elements. Their profiles were pecked into the rock, with the detached blocks then levered out of the rock bank.[16] Several quarries where round workpieces had been produced were identified. Their status as quarries was confirmed by the find of a 3-by-3-metre piece at the southeastern slope of the plateau. Unequivocally Neolithic are three T-shaped pillars that had not yet been levered out of the bedrock. The largest of them lies on the northern plateau. It has a length of 7 m (23 ft) and its head has a width of 3 m (10 ft). Its weight may be around 50 tons. The two other unfinished pillars lie on the southern Plateau.

At the western edge of the hill, a lionlike figure was found. In this area, flint and limestone fragments occur more frequently. It was therefore suggested that this could have been some kind of sculpture workshop.[17] It is unclear, on the other hand, how to classify three phallic depictions from the surface of the southern plateau. They are near the quarries of classical times, making their dating difficult.[18]

Apart from the tell, there is an incised platform with two sockets that could have held pillars, and a surrounding flat bench. This platform corresponds to the complexes from Layer III at the tell. Continuing the naming pattern, it is called "complex E." Owing to its similarity to the cult-buildings at Nevalı Çori it has also been called "Temple of the Rock." Its floor has been carefully hewn out of the bedrock and smoothed, reminiscent of the terrazzo floors of the younger complexes at Göbekli Tepe. Immediately northwest of this area are two cistern-like pits, believed to be part of complex E. One of these pits has a table-high pin as well as a staircase with five steps.[19]

At the western escarpment, a small cave has been discovered in which a small relief depicting a bovine was found. It is the only relief found in this cave.[18]

Layer III

Pillar 27 from Enclosure C (Layer III) with the sculpture of a predatory animal in high relief catching a prey in low relief.[20]

Gobeklitepe animal sculpture, circa 9000 BCE
Gobekli Tepe 2
Pillar 2 from Enclosure A (Layer III) with low reliefs of what are believed to be a bull, fox, and crane

At this early stage of the site's history, circular compounds or temene first appear. They range from 10 to 30 metres in diameter. Their most notable feature is the presence of T-shaped limestone pillars evenly set within thick interior walls composed of unworked stone. Four such circular structures have been unearthed so far. Geophysical surveys indicate that there are 16 more, enclosing up to eight pillars each, amounting to nearly 200 pillars in all. The slabs were transported from bedrock pits located approximately 100 metres (330 ft) from the hilltop, with workers using flint points to cut through the limestone bedrock.[21]

Göbekli Tepe Pillar
Pillar with the sculpture of a fox

Two taller pillars stand facing one another at the centre of each circle. Whether the circles were provided with a roof is uncertain. Stone benches designed for sitting are found in the interior.[22] Many of the pillars are decorated with abstract, enigmatic pictograms and carved animal reliefs. The pictograms may represent commonly understood sacred symbols, as known from Neolithic cave paintings elsewhere. The reliefs depict mammals such as lions, bulls, boars, foxes, gazelles, and donkeys; snakes and other reptiles; arthropods such as insects and arachnids; and birds, particularly vultures. At the time the edifice was constructed, the surrounding country was likely to have been forested and capable of sustaining this variety of wildlife, before millennia of human settlement and cultivation led to the near–Dust Bowl conditions prevalent today.[4] Vultures also feature prominently in the iconography of Çatalhöyük and Jericho.

Few humanoid figures have appeared in the art at Göbekli Tepe. Some of the T-shaped pillars have human arms carved on their lower half, however, suggesting to site excavator Schmidt that they are intended to represent the bodies of stylized humans (or perhaps deities). Loincloths appear on the lower half of a few pillars. The horizontal stone slab on top is thought by Schmidt to symbolize shoulders, which suggests that the figures were left headless.[23] Whether they were intended to serve as surrogate worshippers, symbolize venerated ancestors, or represent supernatural, anthropomorphic beings is not known.

Some of the floors in this, the oldest, layer are made of terrazzo (burnt lime); others are bedrock from which pedestals to hold the large pair of central pillars were carved in high relief.[24] Radiocarbon dating places the construction of these early circles in the range of 9600 to 8800 BCE. Carbon dating suggests that (for reasons unknown) the enclosures were backfilled during the Stone Age.

Layer II

Şanlıurfa Müzesi Neotilik Çağ totem
A sort of totem pole from Göbekli Tepe, with portions of humanoid figures. Layer II, 8800-8000 BCE - Şanlıurfa (Urfa) Museum

Creation of the circular enclosures in layer III later gave way to the construction of small rectangular rooms in layer II. Rectangular buildings make a more efficient use of space compared with circular structures. They often are associated with the emergence of the Neolithic,[25] but the T-shaped pillars, the main feature of the older enclosures, also are present here, indicating that the buildings of Layer II continued to serve the same function in the culture, presumably as sanctuaries.[26] Layer II is assigned to Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). The several adjoining rectangular, doorless and windowless rooms have floors of polished lime reminiscent of Roman terrazzo floors. Carbon dating has yielded dates between 8800 and 8000 BCE.[27] Several T-pillars up to 1.5 meters tall occupy the center of the rooms. A pair decorated with fierce-looking lions is the rationale for the name "lion pillar building" by which their enclosure is known.[28]

A stone pillar resembling totem pole designs was discovered at Göbekli Tepe, Layer II in 2010. It is 1.92 metres high, and is superficially reminiscent of the totem poles in North America. The pole features three figures, the uppermost depicting a predator, probably a bear, and below it a human-like shape. Because the statue is damaged, the interpretation is not entirely clear. Fragments of a similar pole also were discovered about 20 years ago in another Turkey site at Nevalı Çori. Also, an older layer at Gobekli features some related sculptures portraying animals on human heads.[29]

Layer I

Layer I is the uppermost part of the hill. It is the shallowest, but accounts for the longest stretch of time. It consists of loose sediments caused by erosion and the virtually-uninterrupted use of the hill for agricultural purposes since it ceased to operate as a ceremonial center.

The site was deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BCE: the buildings were buried under debris, mostly flint gravel, stone tools, and animal bones.[30] In addition to Byblos points (weapon heads, such as arrowheads etc.) and numerous Nemrik points, Helwan-points, and Aswad-points dominate the backfill's lithic inventory.

Chronological context

All statements about the site must be considered preliminary, as less than 5% of the site has been excavated, and Schmidt planned to leave much of it untouched to be explored by future generations when archaeological techniques will presumably have improved.[4] While the site formally belongs to the earliest Neolithic (PPNA), to date no traces of domesticated plants or animals have been found. The inhabitants are presumed to have been hunters and gatherers who nevertheless lived in villages for at least part of the year.[31] So far, very little evidence for residential use has been found. Through the radiocarbon method, the end of Layer III can be fixed at about 9000 BCE (see above), but it is believed that the elevated location may have functioned as a spiritual center during 11,000 BCE or even earlier, essentially, at the very end of the Pleistocene.

The surviving structures, then, not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel, but were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, that marks the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry, around 9000 BCE. The construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies, however. Archaeologists estimate that up to 500 persons were required to extract the heavy pillars from local quarries and move them 100–500 meters (330–1,640 ft) to the site.[32] The pillars weigh 10–20 metric tons (10–20 long tons; 11–22 short tons), with one still in the quarry weighing 50 tons.[33]

Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BCE Göbekli Tepe lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area, and the "Stone-age zoo" (Schmidt's phrase applied particularly to Layer III, Enclosure D) apparently lost whatever significance it had had for the region's older, foraging communities. But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was buried quite deliberately under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse, creating a tell consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, and even human, bones have been identified in the fill.[34] Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.


Klaus Schmidt Monumento 2014 5
Klaus Schmidt, 2014 in Salzburg

Schmidt's view was that Göbekli Tepe is a stone-age mountain sanctuary. Radiocarbon dating as well as comparative, stylistical analysis indicate that it is the oldest ceremonial site yet discovered anywhere.[4][35] Schmidt believed that what he called this "cathedral on a hill" was a pilgrimage destination attracting worshippers up to 150 km (90 mi) distant. Butchered bones found in large numbers from local game such as deer, gazelle, pigs, and geese have been identified as refuse from food hunted and cooked or otherwise prepared for the congregants.[36]

Schmidt considered Göbekli Tepe a central location for a cult of the dead and that the carved animals are there to protect the dead. Though no tombs or graves have been found so far, Schmidt believed that they remain to be discovered in niches located behind the walls of the sacred circles.[4]

In 2017, discovery of human crania with incisions was reported, interpreted as providing evidence for a new form of Neolithic skull cult.[37]

Schmidt also interpreted the site in connection with the initial stages of the Neolithic.[4] It is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area that geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains (see Einkorn). Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 30 km (20 mi) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.[38]

Steles and sculptures from Göbekli Tepe in Şanlıurfa Museum.

With its mountains catching the rain and a calcareous, porous bedrock creating lots of springs, creeks, and rivers,[39] the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris was a refuge during the dry and cold Younger Dryas climatic event (10,800 – 9,500 BCE). Speculation exists that conditions driven by population expansions locally could have led them to develop common rituals strengthened by monumental gathering places to reduce tensions and conflicts over resources,[40] and probably, to mark territorial claims.

Statue of a wild boar, Göbekli Tepe, 9000 BC

Schmidt also engaged in speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He presumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in deities as not developing until later, in Mesopotamia, that was associated with extensive temples and palaces. This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to humans from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient deities without individual names. Schmidt identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic.[41] It is apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings generally ignore game on which the society depended, such as deer, in favour of formidable creatures such as lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.[4][42][43] Expanding on Schmidt's interpretation that round enclosures could represent sanctuaries, Gheorghiu's semiotic interpretation reads the Göbekli Tepe iconography as a cosmogonic map that would have related the local community to the surrounding landscape and the cosmos.[44]


Fertile crescent Neolithic B circa 7500 BC
Area of the fertile crescent, circa 7500 BC, with main sites. Göbekli Tepe is one of the important sites of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. The area of Mesopotamia proper was not yet settled by humans.

Göbekli Tepe is regarded by some as an archaeological discovery of great importance since it could profoundly change the understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human society. Ian Hodder of Stanford University said, "Göbekli Tepe changes everything".[2][45] If indeed the site was built by hunter-gatherers as some researchers believe then it would mean that the ability to erect monumental complexes was within the capacities of these sorts of groups, which would overturn previous assumptions. Some researchers believe that the construction of Göbekli Tepe may have contributed to the later development of urban civilization, or, as excavator Klaus Schmidt put it, "First came the temple, then the city."[46]

Sites with T-shaped pillars from the PPN

In addition to its large dimensions, the side-by-side existence of multiple pillar shrines makes the location unique. There are no comparable monumental complexes from its time. Since its discovery, however, surface surveys have shown that several hills in the greater area also have T-shaped stone pillars (e.g. Hamzan Tepe,[47] Karahan Tepe,[48] Harbetsuvan Tepesi,[49] Sefer Tepe,[50] and Taslı Tepe[39]) but little excavation has been conducted. Most of these constructions seem to be smaller than Göbekli Tepe, and their placement evenly between contemporary settlements indicates that they were local social-ritual gathering places,[50][39] with Göbekli Tepe perhaps as a regional centre.[51] So far none of the smaller sites are so old as the lowest Level III of Göbekli Tepe,[39] but contemporary with its younger Level II (mostly rectangular buildings, though Harbetsuvan is circular). This could indicate that this type of architecture and associated activities originated at Göbekli Tepe, and then spread to other sites.

A site that is 500 years younger is Nevalı Çori, a Neolithic settlement. It was excavated by the German Archaeological Institute and has been submerged by the Atatürk Dam since 1992. Its T-shaped pillars are considerably smaller, and its rectangular ceremonial structure was located inside a village. The roughly contemporary architecture at Jericho is devoid of artistic merit or large-scale sculpture, and Çatalhöyük, perhaps the most famous Anatolian Neolithic village, is 2,000 years later.

At present Göbekli Tepe appears to raise more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a population large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of pre-sedentary society. Scholars have been unable to interpret the pictograms, and do not know what meaning the animal reliefs had for visitors to the site; the variety of fauna depicted, from lions and boars to birds and insects, makes any single explanation problematic. As there is little or no evidence of habitation, and many of the animals pictured are predators, the stones may have been intended to stave off evils through some form of magic representation. Alternatively, they could have served as totems.[52] The assumption that the site was strictly cultic in purpose and not inhabited has been challenged as well by the suggestion that the structures served as large communal houses, "similar in some ways to the large plank houses of the Northwest Coast of North America with their impressive house posts and totem poles."[53] It is not known why every few decades the existing pillars were buried to be replaced by new stones as part of a smaller, concentric ring inside the older one.[54] Human burials may have occurred at the site. The reason the complex was carefully backfilled remains unexplained. Based on current evidence, it is difficult to deduce anything certain about the originating culture or the site's significance.


Göbekli Tepe site (2)
Göbekli Tepe

Future plans include construction of a museum and converting the environs into an archaeological park, in the hope that this will help preserve the site in the state in which it was discovered.[55]

In 2010, Global Heritage Fund (GHF) announced it will undertake a multi-year conservation program to preserve Göbekli Tepe. Partners include the German Archaeological Institute, German Research Foundation, Şanlıurfa Municipal Government, the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture and, formerly, Klaus Schmidt.[56]

The stated goals of the GHF Göbekli Tepe project are to support the preparation of a site management and conservation plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training community members in guiding and conservation, and helping Turkish authorities secure UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for GT.[57]

The conservation work caused controversy in 2018, when Çiğdem Köksal Schmidt, an archaeologist and widow of Klaus Schmidt, said the site was being damaged by the use of concrete and "heavy equipment" during the construction of a new walkway. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism responded that no concrete was used and that no damage had occurred.[58][59]

See also


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  2. ^ a b "History in the Remaking". Newsweek. 18 February 2010.
  3. ^ Klaus Schmidt (2009): Göbekli Tepe - Eine Beschreibung der wichtigsten Befunde erstellt nach den Arbeiten der Grabungsteams der Jahre 1995-2007. In: Erste Tempel - Frühe Siedlungen. 12000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur. Oldenburg, p. 188.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Curry, Andrew (November 2008). "Göbekli Tepe: The World's First Temple?". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  5. ^ Sagona, Claudia. The Archaeology of Malta. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781107006690. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  6. ^ Curry, Andrew (November 2008). "Gobekli Tepe: The World's First Temple?". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  7. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Göbekli Tepe". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  8. ^ Peter Benedict (1980): Survey Work in Southeastern Anatolia. In: Halet Çambel; Robert J. Braidwood (ed.): Prehistoric Research in Southeastern Anatolia I. Edebiyat Fakültesi Basimevi, Istanbul, pp. 151–191.
  9. ^ Schmidt, Klaus (2011). "Göbekli Tepe: A Neolithic Site in Southwestern Anatolia". In Steadman, Sharon R.; McMahon, Gregory (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 917. ISBN 9780195376142.
  10. ^ "Turkey's Ancient Sanctuary". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
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  12. ^ Shukurov, Anvar; Sarson, Graeme R.; Gangal, Kavita (7 May 2014). "The Near-Eastern Roots of the Neolithic in South Asia". PLOS ONE. 9 (5): Appendix S1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095714. ISSN 1932-6203.
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  14. ^ Klaus Schmidt: Sie bauten die ersten Tempel. Das rätselhafte Heiligtum der Steinzeitjäger. Die archäologische Entdeckung am Göbekli Tepe. Munich 2006, p. 102.
  15. ^ Klaus Schmidt: Göbekli Tepe. Eine Beschreibung der wichtigsten Befunde erstellt nach den Arbeiten der Grabungsteams der Jahre 1995-2007. In: Erste Tempel - Frühe Siedlungen. 12000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur. Ausgrabungen und Forschungen zwischen Donau und Euphrat. Oldenburg 2009, p. 188.
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  • Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (ed.): Vor 12.000 Jahren in Anatolien. Die ältesten Monumente der Menschheit. Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung im Badischen Landesmuseum vom 20. Januar bis zum 17. Juni 2007. Theiss, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-2072-8
  • E.B. Banning, "So Fair a House: Göbekli Tepe and the Identification of Temples in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of the Near East", Current Anthropology, 52.5 (October 2011), 619 ff.: https://www.scribd.com/doc/67961270/Gobekli-Tepe-temples-Ted-Banning-2011
  • Andrew Curry, "Seeking the Roots of Ritual," Science 319 (18 January 2008), pp. 278–80: https://web.archive.org/web/20120415112503/
  • Andrew Curry, "Göbekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?". Smithsonian Magazine (November 2008): http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html
  • DVD-ROM: MediaCultura (Hrsg.): Vor 12.000 Jahren in Anatolien. Die ältesten Monumente der Menschheit. Theiss, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-2090-2
  • Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus, The Creation of Inequality (Cambridge and London, 2012), pp. 128–131.
  • David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce, "An Accidental revolution? Early Neolithic religion and economic change", Minerva, 17 #4 (July/August, 2006), 29–31.
  • Klaus-Dieter Linsmeier and Klaus Schmidt: Ein anatolisches Stonehenge. In: Moderne Archäologie. Spektrum-der-Wissenschaft-Verlag, Heidelberg 2003, 10–15, ISBN 3-936278-35-0.
  • Charles C. Mann, "The Birth of Religion: The World's First Temple" National Geographic Vol. 219 No. 6 (June 2011), pp. 34–59: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text
  • Steven Mithen, After the Ice:A global human history, 20,000-5000 BC. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 2004, ISBN 0-674-01570-3. Pp. 65–69, 89–90.
  • J. Peters & K. Schmidt: "Animals in the symbolic world of Pre-Pottery Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey: a preliminary assessment." Anthropozoologica 39.1 (2004), 179–218: https://web.archive.org/web/20110612061638/http://www.mnhn.fr/museum/front/medias/publication/10613_Peters.pdf.
  • K. Pustovoytov: Weathering rinds at exposed surfaces of limestone at Göbekli Tepe. In: Neo-lithics. Ex Oriente, Berlin 2000, 24–26 (14C-Dates)
  • Erika Qasim: "The T-shaped monuments of Gobekli Tepe: Posture of the Arms. In: Chr. Sütterlin et al. (ed.): Art as Behaviour. An Ethological Approach to Visual and Verbal Art, Music and Architecture. Oldenburg 2014, 252-272
  • Sandra Scham, "The World's First Temple," Archaeology 61.6 (November/December 2008): http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/turkey.html
  • K. Schmidt: Frühneolithische Tempel. Ein Forschungsbericht zum präkeramischen Neolithikum Obermesopotamiens. In: Mitteilungen der deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 130, Berlin 1998, 17–49, ISSN 0342-118X
  • K. Schmidt: "Zuerst kam der Tempel, dann die Stadt." Vorläufiger Bericht zu den Grabungen am Göbekli Tepe und am Gürcütepe 1995–1999. Istanbuler Mitteilungen 50 (2000): 5–41.
  • K. Schmidt, 2000a = Göbekli Tepe and the rock art of the Near East, TÜBA-AR 3 (2000): 1–14.
  • K. Schmidt, 2000b = Göbekli Tepe, Southeastern Turkey. A preliminary Report on the 1995–1999 Excavations. In: Palèorient CNRS Ed., Paris 2000: 26.1, 45–54, ISSN 0153-9345: http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/paleo_0153-9345_2000_num_26_1_4697
  • K. Schmidt: Sie bauten die ersten Tempel. Das rätselhafte Heiligtum der Steinzeitjäger. Verlag C.H. Beck, München 2006, ISBN 3-406-53500-3.
  • K. Schmidt, "Göbekli Tepe. Eine Beschreibung der wichtigsten Befunde erstellt nach den Arbeiten der Grabungsteams der Jahre 1995–2007", in K. Schmidt (ed.), Erste Tempel—Frühe Siedlungen. 12000 Jahre Kunst und Kultur, Ausgrabungen und Forschungen zwischen Donau und Euphrat, (Oldenburg 2009): 187–233.
  • K. Schmidt, "Göbekli Tepe—the Stone Age Sanctuaries: New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs," Documenta Praehistorica XXXVII (2010), 239–256: https://web.archive.org/web/20120131114925/http://arheologija.ff.uni-lj.si/documenta/authors37/37_21.pdf
  • Metin Yeşilyurt, Die wissenschaftliche Interpretation von Göbeklitepe: Die Theorie und das Forschungsprogramm. (Neolithikum und ältere Metallzeiten. Studien und Materialien, Band 2.) Lit Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-643-12528-6.
  • "Göbekli Tepe". Megalithic Portal.

External links




1995 in archaeology

The year 1995 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan as well as the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran. Some authors also include Cyprus.

The region has been called the "cradle of civilization", because it is where settled farming first began to emerge as people started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation in order to grow newly domesticated plants as crops. Early human civilizations such as Sumer flourished as a result. Technological advances in the region include the development of writing, glass, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation.


Gürcütepe is a Neolithic site on the southeastern outskirts of Şanlıurfa in Turkey, consisting of four very shallow tells along Sirrin Stream that flows from Şanlıurfa. All four hills are now covered by modern buildings, so they are no longer recognizable. In the late 1990s a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt carried out soundings on all four hills and made extensive excavations on the second hill seen from the east.

Originally it was assumed that the four hills were settled in a specific time sequence, that one of these settlement phases would coincide with the nearby Gobekli Tepe. However, the excavations have indicated that all four hills were settled during the PPNB period; the easternmost hill is from the later PPNC period.

Gürcütepe joins a group of Neolithic localities in Turkey, all rammed-earth buildings possessing space subdivisions next to larger community buildings. The small finds correspond to what we previously knew already. Overall, the Gürcütepe gives the impression of a rural settlement which was significantly younger than the famous Göbekli Tepe.

Inside the Neolithic Mind

Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods is a cognitive archaeological study of Neolithic religious beliefs in Europe co-written by the archaeologists David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce, both of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was first published by Thames and Hudson in 2005. Following on from Lewis-Williams' earlier work, The Mind in the Cave (2002), the book discusses the role of human cognition in the development of religion and Neolithic art.

The premise of Inside the Neolithic Mind is that irrespective of cultural differences, all humans share in the ability to enter into altered states of consciousness, in which they experience entoptic phenomenon, which the authors discern as a three-stage process leading to visionary experiences. Arguing that such altered experiences have provided the background to religious beliefs and some artistic creativity throughout human history, they focus their attention on the Neolithic, or "New Stone Age" period, when across Europe, communities abandoned their nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles and settled to become sedentary agriculturalists.

Adopting case studies from the opposite ends of Neolithic Europe, Lewis-Williams and Pearce discuss the archaeological evidence from both the Near East – including such sites as Nevalı Çori, Göbekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük – and Atlantic Europe, including the sites of Newgrange, Knowth and Bryn Celli Ddu. The authors argue that these monuments illustrate the influence of altered states of consciousness in constructing cosmological views of a tiered universe, in doing so drawing ethnographic parallels with shamanistic cultures in Siberia and Amazonia.

Academic reviews published in such peer-reviewed journals as Antiquity were mixed. Critics argued that the use of evidence was selective, and that there was insufficient evidence for the authors' three-stage model of entopic phenomenon. Others praised the accessible and engaging writing style.

Klaus Schmidt (archaeologist)

Klaus Schmidt (11 December 1953 – 20 July 2014) was a German archaeologist and pre-historian who led the excavations at Göbekli Tepe from 1996 to 2014.

Klaus Schmidt studied pre- and protohistory, as well as classical archaeology and geology at the universities of Erlangen and Heidelberg. He completed his doctorate in 1983 at the Heidelberg university under the direction of Harald Hauptmann. He received a travel stipend from the German Archaeological Institute from 1984 to 1986. From 1986 to 1995, he received a research stipend from the German Research Foundation and was employed at the Institute of pre- and proto-history of the Heidelberg university, working on various projects with the German Archaeological Institute and the Heidelberg university.

In 1995, he became the leader of the excavations at Gürcütepe and Göbekli Tepe in Southeast Turkey. He received his habilitation in 1999 from the University of Erlangen and in 2000 became Privatdozent in Pre- and Proto-history at the Institute for Pre- and Proto-history of the University of Erlangen. In 2007, he became adjunct professor at the University of Erlangen.

Starting 2001, he became the referent in prehistoric archaeology of the Oriental division of the German Archaeological Institute, and from 2007 was corresponding member of the Institute.In 1995, Schmidt purchased a house in nearby Urfa, which became his base of operations. His team of archaeologists typically excavated the site of Göbekli Tepe during two months in the spring and two months in the fall. In a 2011 interview, Schmidt estimated that roughly five percent of the site had been excavated.Klaus Schmidt was married to Turkish archaeologist Çiğdem Köksal-Schmidt. He died of a heart attack while swimming in Germany on 20 July 2014. Archaeologists intend to continue the excavations at Göbekli Tepe despite Schmidt's death.

Late Pleistocene

The Late Pleistocene is a geochronological age of the Pleistocene Epoch and is associated with Upper Pleistocene (or Tarantian) stage rocks. The beginning of the stage is defined by the base of the Eemian interglacial phase before the final glacial episode of the Pleistocene 126,000 ± 5,000 years ago. Its end is defined at the end of the Younger Dryas, some 11,700 years ago. The age represents the end of the Pleistocene epoch and is followed by the Holocene epoch.

Much of the Late Pleistocene age was dominated by glaciations, such as the Wisconsin glaciation in North America and the Weichselian glaciation and Würm glaciation in Eurasia). Many megafauna became extinct during this age, a trend that continued into the Holocene. The Late Pleistocene contains the Upper Paleolithic stage of human development, including the out-of-Africa migration and dispersal of anatomically modern humans and the extinction of the last remaining archaic human species.

List of Neolithic settlements

Human Neolithic settlements by date:

Tell Qaramel in Syria, c. 9000 BC

Pulli settlement in Estonia, c. 9000 BC

Spirit Cave in Thailand, 9000–5500 BC

Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, c. 9000 BC

Jericho in West bank, Neolithic from around 8350 BC, arising from the earlier Epipaleolithic Natufian culture

Nevali Cori in Turkey, c. 8000 BC

Çatalhöyük in Turkey, 7500 BC

Pengtoushan culture in China, 7500–6100 BC

'Ain Ghazal in Jordan, 7250–5000 BC

Chogha Bonut in Iran, 7200 BC

Jhusi in India, 7100 BC

Hacilar in Turkey, c. 7000 BC

Ganj Dareh in Iran, c. 7000 BC

Jiahu in China, 7000 to 5800 BC

Mehrgarh in India now in Pakistan, 7000 BC

Knossus on Crete, c. 7000 BC

Lepenski vir in Serbia, 7000 BC

Sesklo in Greece, 6850 BC (with a ±660 year margin of error)

Porodin in North Macedonia, 6500 BC

Vrshnik (Anzabegovo) in North Macedonia, 6500 BC

Lahuradewa in India, 6400 BC

Pizzo di Bodio (Varese), Lombardy in Italy, c. 6320 ±80 BC

Sammardenchia in Friuli, Italy, ca 6050 ±90 BC,

Starčevo in Serbia, 6000 to 4200 BC

Petnica in Serbia, 6000 BC

Choirokoitia in Cyprus, 6000 BC

Dispilio in Greece, ca. 5500 BC

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, c. 5500 BC, in Ukraine

Niš, 5000-2000BC

Hemudu culture in China, 5000–4500 BC, large scale rice plantation

Tabon Cave Complex in Quezon, Palawan, Philippines 5000–2000 BC

Sweet Track in England, dates from 3800 BC.

Knap of Howar and Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland, from 3500 BC and 3100 BC respectively

Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, c. 3500 BC

Lough Gur in Ireland from around 3000 BC

Singidunum (Belgrade) in Serbia, 3000 BC

Lajia in China, 2000 BC

List of World Heritage sites in Turkey

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. Turkey accepted the convention on 16 March 1983, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the list. As of 2018, there are eighteen World Heritage sites in Turkey, including sixteen cultural sites and two mixed sites.The first three sites in Turkey, Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği, Historic Areas of Istanbul and Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, were inscribed on the list at the 9th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Paris, France in 1985. The latest inscriptions, Aphrodisias, was added to the list in 2017, and Göbekli Tepe in 2018.

Magicians of the Gods

Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilisation is a 2015 book by British pseudoarchaeology writer Graham Hancock. It is published by Thomas Dunne Books in the United States and Coronet in the United Kingdom. An "updated and expanded" paperback edition was released in 2017.A sequel to Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods (1995), the book is based on the premise that there was a highly advanced "lost civilisation" in prehistory that was destroyed in a global catastrophe. Hancock seeks an explanation for this catastrophe in the controversial Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, suggesting that around 10,800 BC the earth was struck by the fragments of a large comet, causing widespread destruction, climate change, and sea level rise. He then recounts that the survivors of this catastrophe, the titular "Magicians", dispersed across the world to pass on the knowledge of their lost civilisation. He links this to the construction of various ancient monuments, including Göbekli Tepe, Baalbek, and the Pyramids of Giza, which Hancock claims are much older than mainstream archaeologists say.Literary reviewers found the book ludicrous but entertaining, whilst sceptic and mainstream academic reviewers have criticised Hancock for a litany of factual errors, selective use of evidence and logical fallacies. It appeared on the New York Times best seller list in the category "Religion, Spirituality and Faith" in December 2015.

Nevalı Çori

Nevalı Çori (Turkish: Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in Şanlıurfa Province, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The site is known for having some of the world's oldest known communal buildings and monumental sculpture. Together with the earlier site of Göbekli Tepe, it has revolutionised scientific understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic period. The oldest domesticated Einkorn wheat was found there.The settlement was located about 490 m above sea level, in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, on both banks of the Kantara stream, a tributary of the Euphrates.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to c. 12,000 – c. 10,800 years ago, that is, 10,000-8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and Upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.

The time period is characterized by tiny circular mud brick dwellings, the cultivation of crops, the hunting of wild game, and unique burial customs in which bodies were buried below the floors of dwellings.The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). PPNA succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic).

Upper Mesopotamia

Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East. After the early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century, the region has been known by the traditional Arabic name of al-Jazira (Arabic: الجزيرة‎ "the island", also transliterated Djazirah, Djezirah, Jazirah) and the Syriac (Aramaic) variant Gāzartā or Gozarto (ܓܙܪܬܐ). The Euphrates and Tigris rivers transform Mesopotamia into almost an island, as they are joined together at the Shatt al-Arab in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, and their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity.

The region extends south from the mountains of Anatolia, east from the hills on the left bank of the Euphrates river, west from the mountains on the right bank of the Tigris river and includes the Sinjar plain. It extends down the Tigris to Samarra and down the Euphrates to Hīt. The Khabur runs for over 400 km (250 mi) across the plain, from Turkey in the north, feeding into the Euphrates.

The major settlements are Mosul, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, al-Hasakah, Diyarbakır and Qamishli. The western, Syrian part, is essentially contiguous with the Syrian al-Hasakah Governorate and is described as "Syria's breadbasket". The eastern, Iraqi part, includes and extends slightly beyond the Iraqi Nineveh Governorate. In the north it includes the Turkish provinces of Şanlıurfa, Mardin, and parts of Diyarbakır Province. This area now has large swaths controlled by Rojava.


Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (pronounced [ʃanˈlɯuɾfa]; Kurdish: Riha‎; Ուռհա Uṙha in Armenian, ܐܘܪܗܝ Ūrhay in Syriac) and known in ancient times as Edessa, is a city with a population of over 2 million residents in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. Urfa is a multiethnic city with a Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab population. Urfa is situated on a plain about eighty kilometres east of the Euphrates River. Its climate features extremely hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters.

Urfa Man

The Urfa man, also known as the Balıklıgöl statue, is an ancient anthropomorphological statue found in excavations in Balıklıgöl near Urfa, in the geographical area of Upper Mesopotamia, in the southeast of modern Turkey. It is dated circa 9000 BC to the period of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, and is considered as "the oldest naturalistic life-sized sculpture of a human". It is considered as contemporaneous with the sites of Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A/B) and Nevalı Çori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B).

Uruk Trough

The Uruk Trough is an important prehistoric Middle Eastern sculpture found at the site of Uruk, Iraq. It has been part of the British Museum's collection since 1928. Along with the Uruk Vase, the trough is considered to be one of the earliest surviving works of narrative relief sculpture from the Middle East, dating to 3300-3000 BC. Simple relief sculpture is known from much earlier periods, from the site of Göbekli Tepe, dating to circa 9000 BC.


Çayönü Tepesi is a Neolithic settlement in southeastern Turkey which prospered from circa 8,630 to 6,800 BC. It is located forty kilometres north-west of Diyarbakır, at the foot of the Taurus mountains. It lies near the Boğazçay, a tributary of the upper Tigris River and the Bestakot, an intermittent stream.


Ġgantija (Maltese pronunciation: [dʒɡanˈtiːja], "Giantess") is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. The Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BC), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world's second oldest existing manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe in present-day Turkey. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

The temples are elements of a ceremonial site in a fertility rite. Researchers have found that the numerous figurines and statues found on site are associated with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess who ate nothing but broad beans and honey bore a child from a man of the common people. With the child hanging from her shoulder, she built these temples and used them as places of worship.

Şanlıurfa Museum

Şanlıurfa Museum (Turkish: Şanlıurfa Müzesi) is an archaeological museum in Şanlıurfa, Turkey. It is located at 11 Nisan Fuar Caddesi, Şanlıurfa (across the Şanlıurfa Piazza Mall). In this Museum, findings from the surrounding area, i. e. from Göbekli Tepe or Harran, and from the Southeastern Anatolia Project are exhibited.

The new museum inaugurated in 2015 has 3 floors and covers 2,500 square meters of indoor space. The old museum located at Çamlık Caddesi was opened in 1969 with a display area of 1500sq.m. Later on annexes were added. Before that, archaeological finds were displayed in the rooms of the Şehit-Nüsret-elementary school, therefore in Atatürk-elementary school.

Şanlıurfa Province

Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili) or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014).

The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water, and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque where Abraham was born in the cave next to the mosque. Also lying within the district, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

Population in 1990 was 1,001,455; 551,124 in the district centers, 450,331 in rural villages. By 2000, the population of Şanlıurfa province had grown to 1,436,956 and that of Urfa city, 829,000. Its provincial capital is the city of Urfa, the traffic code is 63.

  Pre-Pottery Neolithic   Pottery Neolithic
Europe Egypt Syria
Anatolia Khabur Sinjar Mountains
Middle Tigris Low
Iran Indus/
10000 Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
(10,500 BC)
Early Pottery
(18,000 BC)[62]
9000 Jericho
Tell Abu Hureyra
8000 Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Tell Aswad
Göbekli Tepe
Aşıklı Höyük
Initial Neolithic
(8500–8000 BC)
7000 Egyptian Neolithic
Nabta Playa
(7500 BC)
(7000 BC)
Tell Sabi Abyad
Jarmo Ganj Dareh
Chia Jani
Ali Kosh
Mehrgarh I[61]
6500 Neolithic Europe
Pre-Pottery Neolithic C
('Ain Ghazal)
Pottery Neolithic
Tell Sabi Abyad
Pottery Neolithic
Chogha Bonut Teppe Zagheh Pottery Neolithic
(7000-5000 BC)
6000 Pottery Neolithic
Pottery Neolithic
(Sha'ar HaGolan)
Pottery Neolithic
Ubaid 0
(Tell el-'Oueili)
Pottery Neolithic
Chogha Mish
Pottery Neolithic
Sang-i Chakmak
Pottery Neolithic

Mehrgarh II

Mehrgarh III
5600 Faiyum A
Amuq A


Umm Dabaghiya
(6000-4800 BC)
Tepe Muhammad Djafar Tepe Sialk
5200 Linear Pottery culture
(5500-4500 BC)

Amuq B



Ubaid 1
(Eridu 19-15)

Ubaid 2
(Hadji Muhammed)
(Eridu 14-12)

Susiana A
Yarim Tepe
Hajji Firuz Tepe
4800 Pottery Neolithic

Amuq C
Hassuna Late

Gawra 20

Tepe Sabz
Kul Tepe Jolfa
Amuq D
Gian Hasan
Ubaid 3 Ubaid 3
Ubaid 3 Khazineh
Susiana B

Ubaid 4
Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia
Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia
Southeastern Anatolia
All over Turkey
Middle Eastern megaliths
Saudi Arabia
General articles

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