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Gobekli Tepe: Garden of Eden?

Since 1994, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt has overseen an astonishing archaeological dig called Gobekli Tepe. Located in southern Turkey, South African palaeolithic art expert David Lewis has called Gobekli Tepe “the most important archaeological dig anywhere in the world.” Why? Schmidt explains, “Gobekli Tepe is staggeringly old. It dates from 10,000 BC, before pottery and the wheel. By comparison, Stonehenge dates from 2,000 BC. Our excavations also show it is not a domestic site, it is religious – the world’s oldest temple. This site proves that hunter-gatherers were capable of complex art and organised religion, something no-one imagined before.”

In part, Gobekli Tepe is thought to be a temple, or funerary complex, because of the human bones installed in the open niches beside its standing stones. Forty or so T-shaped standing stones – two to four meters in length, and weighing anywhere from 5 to 50 tons – have been unearthed thus far at the main site; and geomagnetic surveys suggest at least another 250 stones have yet to be uncovered there. However, the largest stone discovered thus far – nine meters in length – was recently found about a kilometer from the main site, so there may be many more.

Age alone isn’t the site’s only Wow! factor. Since there’s nothing I can say which would adequately descibe this article’s photos, I suggest you take a look for yourself, and read why some people are even speculating that Gobekli Tepe could almost literally be the Garden of Eden: Pages one, two, three, four, five, and six.

As always, feel free to post your thoughts.

  1. Gobekli Tepe
    The soil tests off the face of the T-rocks checks in at 10,000 years B.C. but the carefully packed soil on the rocks checks out at 8,000 B.C.
    Am I missing something here or is the soil on the rocks and around the rocks the same soil. Anyways, at about 10,000 B.C. it fits in with the flood destruction as chronicled by the Bible and many recent “crazy” or ” heretical” scientists. I’ll vote for that senario.

  2. BP != BC
    There seems to be some loose talk about the dates that has me concerned. The radiocarbon dates, as given on the Wikipedia entry, are 9,000 BP = 7,000 BC all of which is consistent with the archaeology (which is Epipalaeolithic overlain by Pre-Pottery Neolithic A). This is around the time that agriculture first appeared. Hopefully more detailled and better quality information should help clarify this.

      1. the old guys and girls
        It’s another point of evidence that the old ones, who did not live in cities, were as intelligent as the later city dwellers. They invented many things the city people had, we just don’t have evidence of it. This site in Turkey seems to be evidence that they invented religion, and they invented long term gathering places. And to build such things, they invented long term cooperation.

        It’s a shame that there are no cultures like this left in the world. The remaining non-sedentary cultures all live in really marginal places. It’s too bad.

        —-
        May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house (George Carlin)

  3. Catalhoyuk – Anatolian Dig
    http://www.crystalinks.com/seatedgoddess.html
    and here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Çatal_Hüyük
    Homepage for the dig itself can be found here
    http://www.catalhoyuk.com/

    Catalhoyuk is located overlooking wheatfields in the Konya Plain, southeast of the present-day city of Konya, Turkey, approximately 140 km from the twin-coned volcano of Hasan Dag. The eastern settlement forms a mound which would have risen about 20 metres above the plain at the time of the latest Neolithic occupation. There is also a smaller settlement mound to the west and a Byzantine settlement a few hundred meters to the east. The prehistoric mound settlements were abandoned before the Bronze Age. A channel of the Çarsamba river once flowed between the two mounds, and the settlement was built on alluvial clay which may have been favourable for early agriculture.
    First discovered in 1958, the Catalhoyuk site was brought to worldwide attention by James Mellaart’s excavations between 1961 and 1965, which revealed this section of Anatolia as a centre of advanced culture in the Neolithic period. The complex settlement was described by Mellaart as the earliest city in the world. However, it is more properly described as a large village rather than a true town, city or civilization. The community seems to have consisted entirely of domestic housing with open areas for dumping rubbish. There are no obvious public buildings or signs of division of labour, although some dwellings are larger than the rest and bear more elaborate wall paintings. The purpose of larger rooms remains unclear, though some sort of ritual purpose is suspected. The population of the eastern mound has been estimated at up to 10,000 people, but population totals likely varied over the community¹s history.

    An average population of between 5,000 to 8,000 is a reasonable estimate. The inhabitants lived in mud-brick houses which were crammed together in an agglutinative manner. No footpaths or streets were used between the dwellings, which were clustered in a honeycomb-like maze. Most were accessed by holes in the ceiling, which were reached by interior and exterior ladders. Thus, their rooftops were their streets. The ceiling openings also served as the only source of ventilation, letting in fresh air and allowing smoke from open hearths and ovens to escape. Houses had plaster interiors characterized by squared off timber ladders or steep stairs, usually placed on the south wall of the room, as were cooking hearths and ovens. Each main room served as an area for cooking and daily activities. Raised platforms built along the walls of main rooms were used for sitting, working and sleeping. These platforms, and all interior walls, were carefully plastered to a smooth finish. Ancillary rooms were used as storage, and were accessed through low entry openings from main rooms. All rooms were kept scrupulously clean. Archaeologists identified very little trash or rubbish within the buildings, but found that trash heaps outside the ruins contain sewage and food waste as well as significant amounts of wood ash. In good weather, many daily activities may also have taken place on the rooftops, which conceivably formed an open air plaza. In later periods, large communal ovens appear to have been built on these rooftops. Over time, houses were renewed by partial demolition and rebuilding on a foundation of rubble – which was how the mound became built up. Up to eighteen levels of settlement have been uncovered.

    The people of Catalhoyuk buried their dead within the village. Human remains have been found in pits beneath the floors, and especially beneath hearths, the platforms within the main rooms and under the beds. The bodies were tightly flexed before burial, and were often placed in baskets or wrapped in reed mats. Disarticulated bones in some graves suggest that bodies may have been exposed in the open air for a time before the bones were gathered and buried. In some cases, graves were disturbed and the individual¹s head removed from the skeleton. These heads may have been used in ritual, as some were found in other areas of the community. Some skulls were plastered and painted with ochre to recreate human-like faces, a custom more characteristic of Neolithic sites in Syria and at Neolithic Jericho than at sites closer by.

    Vivid murals and figurines are found throughout the settlement, on interior and exterior walls. A wall map of the village is currently credited as the world’s oldest map. Predominant images include men with erect phalluses, groups of men in hunting scenes, and red images of the now extinct aurochs and stags, and vultures swooping down on headless figures. Heads of animals were mounted on walls.

    In addition, distinctive clay figurines of women have been found in the upper levels of the site.

    Although no identifiable temples have been found, the graves, murals and figurines suggest that the people of Catalhoyuk had a religion that was rich in symbol.

    Rooms with concentrations of these items may have been shrines or public meeting areas. The people appear to have lived relatively egalitarian lives with no apparent social classes, as no houses with distinctive features (belonging to kings or priests, for example) have been found so far. The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with both men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and apparently having relatively equal social status.

    In upper levels of the site, it becomes apparent that the people of Catalhoyuk were gaining skills in agriculture and the domestication of animals. Female figurines have been found within bins used for storage of cereals such as wheat and barley. Peas were also grown, and almonds, pistachios, and fruit were harvested from trees in the surrounding hills.

    Sheep were domesticated and evidence suggests the beginning of cattle domestication as well. However, hunting continued to be a major source of meat for the community. The making of pottery and the construction of obsidian tools were major industries. Obsidian tools were probably both used and traded for items as Mediterranean sea shells and flint from Syria.

    A striking feature of Catalhoyuk are its female figurines. Mellaart, the original excavator, argued that these well-formed, carefully made figurines, carved and molded from marble, blue and brown limestone, schist, calcite, basalt, alabaster and clay, represented a female deity. Although a male deity existed as well, statues of a female deity far outnumber those of the male deity, who moreover, does not appear to be represented at all after Level VI. These careful figurines were found primarily in areas Mellaart believed to be shrines.
    ———————————————————–

    My blog of October 14, 2006 on the Underground Stream regarding Andrew Collins website about the possible location of Eden being Gobekli Tepe. Photos of the site are provided. Also directly below it is an informative reply by teledyn.
    http://stream.dailygrail.com/node/79
    Here is a link to an even older article
    http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/1999/126/archaeology.html
    Here is information on the dig site
    http://en.allexperts.com/e/g/g/göbekli_tepe.htm Thanks very much Kat for the new article.
    Love, Pam —————————–Truth is stranger than fiction.

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