Gobekli Tepe Turkey – The Oldest Temple of Humanity!
gobeklitepe-turkey

Gobekli Tepe Turkey – The Oldest Temple of Humanity!

Hi everyone! We continue our blog series with a very very interesting one! It is going to be; Gobekli Tepe Turkey – The Oldest Temple of Humanity!

This post will take you on a journey in the depths of history by providing you the details of the Gobekli Tepe Site in Turkey. As we have mentioned in almost every post, Anatolia/Turkey’s land has a very rich cultural structure. The main reason for this is that it has hosted countless civilizations for thousands of years.

With archaeological sites dating back to neolithic times like Gobeklitepe in Sanliurfa, mystic ancient settlements like Hattusa whose secrets still continue to be discovered, and world-wide famous ancient ruins like Ephesus, Pergamon, and Cappadocia that shows examples from Ancient Greek and Roman Empire life; Turkey welcomes its visitors to come and uncover the mysteries of its past.

Where is Göbekli Tepe Why is it Important?

Turkey Göbeklitepe was included in the Unesco World Heritage list in 2018. It is located in Sanliurfa city, in Eastern Turkey. It is believed that the first prophet of the three great monotheistic religions, Prophet Abraham, was born here 4000 years ago. These fertile lands located between Tigris and Euphrates rivers are as old as human history.

The Anatolian lands, which host countless civilizations, are 7 thousand years older than the Egyptian pyramids and 6 thousand years older than the Stonehedge in England. Turkey Temple Göbeklitepe, which changed all known human history with its 11,500 years of historical richness, took the title of the oldest temple in the world from England – Stone Edge.

Göbeklitepe, which has made a great impact since its discovery, has rewritten the entire history of humanity. The excavations have revealed that the known history of religion and the transition to settled life should be reevaluated. What we think about the evolution of humanity until today; agriculture enabled us to settle down, develop religious teachings, and build temples. It was that small settlements formed cities, and cities formed powerful civilizations. Society, who does not waste time collecting anymore, has had more time to think, and this has accelerated evolution. But after the discovery of Göbeklitepe, the cultural evolution of history has changed completely.

Unearthing Göbeklitepe Turkey!

Göbeklitepe was first excavated by the famous German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt between 1995 and 2014. The German archaeologist stated that the area covered 90 thousand square meters in his studies with underground radar to understand the true size of the area. This is about the size of 90 football fields.

During his initial excavations with his team, Klaus Schmidt found a series of relief columns weighing 11 tons. Columns are built with stone walls about 3 meters high. In the middle, there are 2 huge T-shaped obelisks, 5.5 meters high and 16 tons in weight. Animal reliefs carved into columns are thought to be the guards of the obelisks here. The giant obelisk in T shape is thought to be a human depiction.

When viewed from the profile, the head and body are depicted in a T shape, and the arms and hands are drawn on the pillars. Belt figures are embroidered with fox skin on the waist. But their faces are not depicted. So it seems that the depiction here is apparently human, but in reality, a humorous life is displayed.

So it suggests that these pillars might be the first gods in human history. The obelisks were built on a large piece of rock. Stone columns are placed in hollows that have been cut 10 cm. Before the large pieces were transported here, they were shaped by granite stones from kilometers away and then shoveled on land and erected on the hill. Studies show that 50 men may be enough to carry these huge columns. 

The Religious in Göbekli Temple and Rituals!

This colossal temple required an advanced organization and workforce to build. When we look back 12 thousand years, it was very difficult to build this place for stone-age people. Because even though they found fire, wheels were not invented and animals were not domesticated in that period.

In Göbeklitepe excavations, many animal bones were found (such as gazelle, wild sheep, wild boar). The fact that the bones belong to wild animals shows us that these people lived by foraging and hunting. This means a pre-agricultural society. Those who contribute to the temple were not farmers, but gatherer and hunter societies. While these societies initially shared their food with their immediate surroundings, over time they had to share and live in harmony with the wider public. This has revealed the moral rules and the need for trust.

There was a need for a formation that would hold these different communities together. People started to organize ceremonies and showed that they belong to this group with their participation. Thanks to this, many profession groups have come together. They started to see each other’s work and live in accordance with moral rules. Many bone fragments found in Göbeklitepe show that religious ceremonies were held here. Animals in nature were domesticated and cultivated in order to meet the food offered in the ceremonies. This means that one of the biggest reasons for the end of the stone age is beliefs.

Destruction of the Göbekli Tepe Temple!

The collapse of Göbeklitepe, the oldest temple in world history, has been as mysterious as the religion it represents. Göbeklitepe has been an important center of belief where cultures are shared, ideas are spoken and rituals are held for 1000 years. The foundations of the agricultural revolution that changed the destiny of humanity were laid here.

While the new way of life has changed, the temple has undergone a great change. 1500 years after Göbeklitepe was built, it was covered with soil and smaller structures were built. The columns were reduced in size over time and small sections were built. But each time the temple lost a new feature and slowly began to lose its importance. Each time, the temples were covered with soil and a smaller one was built, and this place became a mound.

One of the reasons why the Gobeklitepe temple lost its importance is that local people built small shrines in their cities instead of coming to this temple, which is kilometers away. The other reason is that the new generation in the hunter and gatherer society were engaged in agriculture and clinging to a different life. So they may not have had much respect for their ancestral beliefs. We can think of this as a cultural revolution. 

Similarities Between Göbeklitepe and Çatalhöyük

Gobekli tepe was buried 10 thousand years ago, but the belief in the gods here continued to show its influence on other surrounding cities. When we go to the ancient city of Catalhoyuk, which is 650 km from Sanliurfa City, it is possible to see many similarities. Çatalhöyük is one of the oldest settlements with a history dating back 9 thousand years. It is known that the most important source of income in the city, which has a population of approximately 8 thousand people, was farming.

During the excavations carried out in Çatalhöyük, some findings overlapping Göbeklitepe were found. Images of wild animals such as wild bulls, pigs, and leopards dating back about 2500 years show that the teachings of the hunter-gatherer society of that time reached this far. In other words, although Göbeklitepe seems to have lost its function, many spiritual and cultural teachings of that period affected the lives of the surrounding cities and even the agricultural communities that are kilometers away.

For example, the bullhead on the wall of a house in Çatalhöyük is quite interesting. Taurus/Bullhead symbolizes a divine god for these communities. Bullheads of this size are a representation of pre-era aurochs. Prehistoric aurochs had a height of 2 meters and an antler span of 3 meters. Man’s taming this giant animal is to show its superiority over nature. That’s why they found it worth celebrating.

It is the effort of people to show their superiority over the bull in the bullfights organized in Spain today. The headless human figures we see in Göbeklitepe symbolize the belief of resurrection after death. Again, it is possible to see a similar one in Çatalhöyük. Many headless body parts were found during the excavations at Çatalhöyük. The reason was that people were buried in the ground after they died, and after a while, the skulls were carefully removed and kept in public places or in their homes. This is the story of the belief in resurrection after death and in this respect, it is similar to the reliefs in Göbeklitepe.

Why Visit to Göbeklitepe?

It is believed that the first Temple of the World.
It is believed to be a center of faith and pilgrimage during the Neolithic Period.
The first and earliest three-dimensional depictions carved into stone are found here.
According to scientists, the archaeological discovery of Göbeklitepe changed known human history.
It proves the existence of religious beliefs prior to the establishment of the first cities.
It is one of the Unesco World Heritage Site which was included to the list in 2018.

How to Go to Göbeklitepe?

Göbeklitepe archaeological site is located near to Örencik Village, 15 km away from Şanlıurfa, which is one of the most interesting cities in Turkey, and famed as the city of prophets. There are scheduled flights from Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara to Şanlıurfa city. Upon arrival to Şanlıurfa Airport, a taxi service can be taken to reach to Göbekli Temple.

There are intercity busses to Şanlıurfa city from almost all around Turkey! In addition, some artifacts from the Göbeklitepe excavation area were placed in the Göbeklitepe Museum in the city center of Şanlıurfa. Do not forget to visit this museum while you are in Şanlıurfa!

Final Thoughts

Although this prehistoric temple has disappeared, the belief it represents has continued to shape civilizations and cultures for 12 thousand years. In terms of the meaning it represents, it has been a social bond that holds communities together. Most important is a giant springboard that is groundbreaking in our spiritual world.

Turkey has a larger and richer cultural structure you can imagine. There are hundreds or even thousands of historical and cultural places that can be visited and seen. Continue reading our blog posts and benefiting from useful information to plan your trip smoothly. If you ever need help with creating your itinerary or have questions, do not hesitate to contact our team!

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