Göbeklitepe may be the hottest archaeological dig site on this planet right now. The place is at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa and it cradles massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.
The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years.
Klaus Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time… It’s the site of the world’s oldest temple
“This is the first human-built holy place,” he says. “First came the temple, then the city.”
Photographer Zekai Demir, took pictures of the animal engravings and T shaped pillars. Nobody knows how to read these engravings, although they look simple enough. Because there are no sources to explain what they might mean.
“We’re 6,000 years before the invention of writing here,” says Schmidt.
Schmidt says this temple with these monuments inside, could not have been built by hunter-gatherers. This undertaking, carving and erecting seven-ton pillars would have required hundreds of housed workers. This led to the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago.
“This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later,” says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. “You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies.”
So here are the first pictures from this amazing discovery: