Friday, July 27, 2012

Turkey 24: Gobekli Tepe Overview

Gobekli Tepe, is an ancient ceremonial site located approximately 9 miles northeast of Urfa, in the Anatolya region of Turkey.  It is the oldest known human-made religious structure ever found. Parts of it date back to between 8800 and 9130 BCE.

(Find Gobekli Tepe on Google Maps: 37.2233,38.9224.)  Our first glimpse of this remarkable site came at sunrise on the last day of our trip.This tree is shown here because its existence is what gave archeologists the large clue that something special was worth excavating here.

An partial overview of the site looking southeast.  In 1964, the University of Chicago and Istanbul University archeologists working together noticed that the tree appeared to be growing out of a bed of flint chips.

Beds of flint chips do not support the growth of trees. That realization furthered their suspicion that the hilltop on which the tree lives was not a natural feature.

This drawing hypothesizes what one of 24 circle complexes that have been discovered so far might have looked like.  Excavation of the site has been conducted under the direction of Clause Schmidt since 1995.

As can be seen in the image above, the circles consist of two central T shaped pillars surrounded by several smaller ones.  An odd feature of the site, and one that allowed for extremely accurate dating is that each of the circles was intentionally buried.

It was as if it was known at the time of construction that each circle would only be useful for only a specific amount of time.  We know the circles were intentionally buried by the regularity and careful layering of the fill sediment.  An example of this can be seen in the photo above, in the pile of unexcavated fill between the two main pillars.

Contrast that with the larger stones, seen above, which comprise walls separating the different circles.  Notice also that some of the pillars have been covered with wood framing.  This was done to protect them from the sun and vandals.

Other circles, which are currently being excavated, have been covered to protect both the site and the excavators from the elements.

This is a panoramic shot created using multiple frames in an attempt to show another overview of the site.  The tree can be seen at the far right on the top of the hill.  Click on the image to see a much larger version.

Folks who came much later, long after the site had been buried, seemed to sense its significance.  Several graves, which are still covered with stones, were placed near the tree at the top of the hill.

Robert Schoch, on the right, and his wife, Catherine Ulissey, on the left, with the landowner, who graciously allowed us to be the first group to ever witness a sunrise from the excavated site.

Continue on to Post 25: Gobekle Tepe Close Ups, by clicking here.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home