Gobekli Tepe is currently believed to be one of the most exciting and historically significant archaeological sites anywhere in the world today. It might even change our views on history as we know it.
A short drive from Sanliurfa, ‘Pot Belly Hill’ was unearthed in 1995 and is believed to be a collection of Neolithic megaliths that date back to 9500 BC, making this the first place on earth of human worship. Think about that for a moment – 9500 BC. Thats 7,000 years before the pyramids were built. And 6,500 before Stonehenge. To put that in persecutive a little bit more, when this temple was built, the wheel hadn’t been invented yet and farming didn’t exist. Pottery, metal and writing where all things of the future.
Gobekli Tepe changes history as we know it, because academics have always believed that only after people moved on from hunter-gathering, and learnt to farm the land and live in communities, did they have the ability to construct these kinds of structures. This site suggests it would have happened the other way around – that it was the building of these structures that helped to form communities and the need, therefore, for agriculture and social structures.
At the site, you can see huge T-shaped stone pillars built in circular patterns engraved with animals such as lions, boars, foxes, snakes and more. As we walked around the area on a carefully constructed wooden walkway, we tried our best to understand the site and what we were seeing, having read the the history, but we have to be honest, it was difficult. Perhaps we should have expected it, as it is a working archaelogical site, but with all the wood, poles and supportive walls in the way, there just wasn’t much to see.
That’s travel sometimes – the reality doesn’t live up the expectation. In this case we left disappointed. However, it is only the early days of the site. There is a lot of structural work happening and only 5% of the site has been unearthed so far.
There’s no denying the sites importance and I’m sure in years to come, visiting Gobekli Tepe will be an amazing experience. It’s just not there yet.
Note: We visited in October 2014 and have read that the protective cover over the site while we were there was in place of a permanent structure being built which will allow better views of the site itself.