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are needed to protect the site from external pressures. In 2011, in partnership with DAI, Global Heritage Fund (GHF) announced that it will support the first conservation program

Gobekli Tepe: The world's oldest temple under conservation by the Global Heritage Fund

The site has been undergoing excavation since 1994, led by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI)’s Prof. Klaus Schmidt.
SANLIURFA, TURKEY.- Accidentally discovered by a shepherd 17 years ago, Göbekli Tepe is an 11,600-year-old temple site in southeastern Turkey that predates Stonehenge by roughly 6,000 years. Excavations that immediately followed have revealed monolithic T-shaped pillars erected by prehistoric people that, as far as we know, had not yet developed writing, metal tools or even pottery.

The elaborately-carved stones, believed to be anthropomorphic symbols of human beings containing graphic details of animals, symbols and scenes, are systematically arranged in circles throughout the site, with a taller pair of pillars standing in the center of each circle. At least 20 pillars have been dug out, ranging from 3-6 meters in height and weighing between 6-10 tons each. The ability of this civilization to carry out such a complex project is itself a mystery, and while the evidence of a social hierarchy has not been proven, many archaeologists believe that the people who built Göbekli Tepe were the first advanced civilization on Earth.

The site has been undergoing excavation since 1994, led by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI)’s Prof. Klaus Schmidt. As excavations progress and additional features become exposed, a shelter and conservation plan are needed to protect the site from external pressures. In 2011, in partnership with DAI, Global Heritage Fund (GHF) announced that it will support the first conservation program in Göbekli Tepe's history to ensure long-term protection and ongoing research of the world's oldest site of monumental architecture.

In June 2011, Göbekli Tepe was featured in National Geographic in an article titled “The Birth of Religion.” The story discussed the significance of the massive pillars that are reshaping today’s ideas about the Neolithic Revolution and the dawn of civilization. Professor Schmidt believes that modern accepted theories about the Neolithic Revolution—that it was driven by the emergence of agriculture, with civilizations and religion following—can be proven wrong by findings at Göbekli Tepe, which point to the possibility that the ancient ceremonial site was built by existing settled communities and that civilization might actually be “a product of the human mind.”

Göbeklitepe more mystery

Göbeklitepe more mystery

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The latest excavation in Göbeklitepe in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa reveals that inhabitants 12,000 years ago also had a belief system and a certain culture. The remains show there is much more to be discovered from those ancient people, according to scholars.
Göbeklitepe site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa includes important information on inhabitants from 12 millennia ago. The most important information that the team found was that the ancient people had a belief system. AA photo.

Göbeklitepe site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa includes important information on inhabitants from 12 millennia ago. The most important information that the team found was that the ancient people had a belief system. AA photo.
Recent excavations at the Göbeklitepe archaeological site have revealed that ancient people living there 12,000 years ago engaged in agriculture, processed leather, made sculptures and rock accessories and possessed a significant belief system.
The site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa includes important information on the people 12 millennia ago, said Assistant Professor Cihat Kürkçüoğlu of the local Harran University.
Göbeklitepe includes many temples and archaeological works from the Neolithic era. Kürkçüoğlu evaluated the excavation, which is being carried out by Prof. Dr. Klaus Schmidt from the Berlin Germany Archaeology Institute.
The latest remains and excavations showed that those people had a culture and a belief system, said Kürkçüoğlu.
The excavation project has changed many perceptions about the site, he said, adding that ancient people processed wheat and knew about agriculture. “All this information came from the remains.”
The most important information that the team found was that the people had a belief system. “Those people made the first temple in the world and created the first monumental work of the world,” said Kürkçüoğlu.
Göbeklitepe society also had a concept of art, he said.
“Those people created beautiful artwork with stones,” he said, adding that there were serpent and bird figures in the rocks. “This is a very important milestone to learn that these people had an art and aesthetic knowledge.”
A leopard relief found on one of the rocks was a unique piece, according to Kürkçüoğlu. “This might be the oldest relief in the world,” he said, adding that the rock and the figures on it show that the Göbeklitepe people had artistic vision. “Those people are not hunters or nomads.”
Leather cultivation was an important activity among the people of Göbeklitepe because they knew how to cultivate leather, he added.
“The unearthed remains show a relief of fox leather on a man’s body,” said Kürkçüoğlu, adding that the cultivation of leather, engraving rocks, agriculture and architecture were very important developments for the archaeological world. “We believe that these discoveries will attract lots of people to Şanlıurfa.”
The monumental buildings of Göbeklitepe might be temples, according to Kürkçüoğlu. “However, we are not sure about this information,” he said

Gobekli Tepe indicate that people did indeed reside there.and thet have at all temples

For one thing, Gobekli Tepe (the accepted story goes) was constructed by hunter-gatherers. When announced, this was major news. Ancient hunter-gatherers, who neither farmed nor lived in settled villages, had long been thought to be too simply organized to pull off anything on the scale of Gobekli Tepe.
For another thing, the site is billed by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt as the world's first temple. This provocative claim led to a National Geographic cover story last June. To pinpoint the dawn of religious ritual would, of course, be a fantastic accomplishment for anthropology.

Both of these major points are now contested by a Canadian anthropologist.

Writing in the October issue of the journal Current Anthropology, E.B. Banning suggests that the builders of Gobekli Tepe may have been settlers (not hunter-gatherers) at the site, living in spaces best understood as both sacred and domestic. In other words, there was no temple, but symbolic rituals of a sacred nature probably did take place within people's ordinary houses.

Banning charges that anthropologists too often make a cardinal error. They superimpose the modern Western concept of sacred versus profane (some buildings are reserved for religious activities and others for everyday living) incorrectly onto the Near Eastern past.

But let's start at the beginning. Why does Schmidt conclude that Gobekli Tepe was a temple? Excavating, Schmidt found no convincing signs of human occupation there: no ovens, fireplaces or other hints of residential dwellings. The huge T-shaped pillars seemed to him to represent stylized human shapes, and their carved images — scorpion-like animals, snakes and wild boar — he saw as religious totems. Again and again, the existing pillars had been buried and new ones constructed, as if to renew their power. For Schmidt, all this adds up to a temple.

By contrast, Banning finds it more likely that these ancient people made no sharp distinction been sacred and profane. Their cosmology, he writes, "infused everyday life — including its residential or domestic buildings, activities and spaces — with meaning and spirituality."

Among Banning's key points (winnowed from a long, dense paper) are these:

*Analogy from modern society tells us that house spaces do involve the sacred as well as the profane. (I note here that Banning apparently only approves of importing a modern comparison when it helps his case!) In West Africa, for instance, the Batammaliba people construct their houses in metaphorical keeping with their cosmology. The upper part is the sky, the terrace is the earth, and the lower rooms are the underworld.

*At other sites near Gobekli Tepe and built at around the same time, the dead were buried beneath the floors of houses, and skulls adorned the houses' interiors. In other words, sacred rituals and images infused the domestic areas.

* The buildings' size and style of construction (again taken within temporal context) in no way rule them out as houses. Further, portable mortars and stone bowls from Gobekli Tepe indicate that people did indeed reside there.

*Sickles, found on site, suggest that Gobekli Tepe people may well have been cultivating plants like emmer, einkorn and barley, even if they were not full-time farmers.

In sum, Banning thinks that Gobekli Tepe is a collection of houses where villagers carried out symbolic and sacred activities. There's no reason to invoke a specialized temple.

So what are we to think? I'm not yet ready to cast out the hunter-gatherers from the Gobekli Tepe scenario — no one knows for sure how these people made a living — but a fresh perspective on the use of ancient domestic space as also sacred space is welcome.

One conclusion holds firm. The Gobekli Tepe people carried out symbolic and sacred activities on a hilltop they adorned with massive architecture — 5,000 years before Stonehenge. Temple or no temple, that fact fascinates me still.

Barbara J. King is a biological anthropologist at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, the writer of non-fiction science books, most recently Being With Animals, a contributor to 13.7 and a Twitter addict.

Is Gobekli the world's oldest temple, or Stone Age condo?

Is Gobekli the world's oldest temple, or just a tricked-out Stone Age condo?

Undated handout photo of a Wikipedia Commons closeup of one of the decorated pillars at G&#246;bekli Tepe is southern Turkey.

Undated handout photo of a Wikipedia Commons closeup of one of the decorated pillars at Göbekli Tepe is southern Turkey.

Photograph by: Handout, Postmedia News

A Canadian scientist is shaking up the world of archeology after challenging high-profile claims - including June's cover story in the National Geographic - that an ancient site in Turkey is the world's oldest-known temple and represents "the birth of religion."

University of Toronto professor Ted Banning argues the sensational ruins just north of the Syrian border in southern Turkey may represent an elaborately decorated communal dwelling rather than a shrine to the gods.

Read more:

Göbekli Tepe:not temples at all

Contact: Kevin Stacey
University of Chicago Press Journals

Archaeologist argues world's oldest temples were not temples at all

Ancient structures uncovered in Turkey and thought to be the world's oldest temples may not have been strictly religious buildings after all, according to an article in the October issue of Current Anthropology. Archaeologist Ted Banning of the University of Toronto argues that the buildings found at Göbekli Tepe may have been houses for people, not the gods.
The buildings at Göbekli, a hilltop just outside of the Turkish city of Urfa, were found in 1995 by Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute and colleagues from the Şanlıurfa Museum in Turkey. The oldest of the structures at the site are immense buildings with large stone pillars, many of which feature carvings of snakes, scorpions, foxes, and other animals.
The presence of art in the buildings, the substantial effort that must have been involved in making and erecting them, and a lack of evidence for any permanent settlement in the area, led Schmidt and others to conclude that Göbekli must have been a sacred place where pilgrims traveled to worship, much like the Greek ruins of Delphi or Olympia. If that interpretation is true it would make the buildings, which date back more than 10,000 years to the early Neolithic, the oldest temples ever found.
However, Banning offers an alternative interpretation that challenges some of Schmidt's claims.
He outlines growing archaeological evidence for daily activities at the site, such as flintknapping and food preparation. "The presence of this evidence suggests that the site was not, after all, devoid of residential occupation, but likely had quite a large population," Banning said.
Banning goes on to argue that the population may have been housed in the purported temples themselves. He disagrees with the idea that the presence of decorative pillars or massive construction efforts means the buildings could not have been residential space.
"The presupposition that 'art,' or even 'monumental' art, should be exclusively associated with specialized shrines or other non-domestic spaces also fails to withstand scrutiny," Banning writes. "There is abundant ethnographic evidence for considerable investment in the decoration of domestic structures and spaces, whether to commemorate the feats of ancestors, advertise a lineage's history or a chief's generosity; or record initiations and other house-based rituals."
Archaeological evidence for domestic art from the Neolithic period exists as well, Banning says, such as the wall paintings at Çatalhöyük, another archaeological site in Turkey.
Banning suggests that the purported temples may instead have been 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."
"If so, they would likely have housed quite large households that might provide an extremely early example of what the French anthropologist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, called 'house societies,'" Banning said. "Such societies often use house structures for competitive display, locations for rituals, and explicit symbols of social units."
Banning hopes that more excavation at the site will ultimately shed more light on how these buildings were used. In the meantime, he hopes that researchers will not automatically assume that the presence of art or decoration in structures at Göbekli and elsewhere denotes an exclusively religious building.
"It is … likely that some of these buildings were the locus for a variety of rituals, probably including feasts, mortuary rites, magic, and initiations," he writes. "Yet there is generally no reason to presume a priori, even when these are as impressive as the buildings at Göbekli Tepe, that they were not also people's houses."
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).
Current Anthropology is a transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. The journal is published by The University of Chicago Press and sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

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thank you for you thoughts:pay homage to our heroes and to our gods

The T-shaped pillars, or megaliths of Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, date back 12,000 years. They are around 2.7 metres tall and depict sophisticated images cut into stone of wild game: boars, lions, serpents and so on.

These standing stones, set out in circles, with floors of beaten limestone and remnant clay walls, (roofs once covered the pillars) represent the "oldest man-made place of worship ever found".

A place of worship – what does that term signify? Perhaps a place of commemoration and celebration. Ancestor worship, certainly.

We, as a reflective species, commemorate, and in doing so, preserve a record of achievement and triumph in those activities which define our culture. We pay homage to our heroes and to our gods – in so doing preserve memory of them in architecture and image, in song and dance.

 How art and farming was stared
by Gobekli Tepe