Gobekli Tepe tour is a journey into the history of mankind that is no less than 12 000 years back . The site was discovered on the Harran Plain in the province of Sanliurfa, covering an area of 80.000 sqm. Those who have deep interest in the history of human development are strongly advised to see this site while they are touring southeastern Turkey.
Internationally, the site was so emphasized that German Magazine, Der Spiegel, called the ruins Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were expelled for eating the forbidden apple. The configuration of the site is a man made mound, situated at the peak of the plain, that measures 300 m in diameter and 15 m height. map of location
Göbeklitepe is approximately 18 km due northeast of Sanliurfa close to Orencik (Karaharabe) Village. If you are planning to get there using your own transport take a turning to north at the first 2 km of the Viranshehir-Mardin Road then make a turning to the east. The distance is approx 25 minutes drive.
South African expert in palaeolithic art David Lewis Williams calls Gobekli Tepe "the most important archaeological dig anywhere in the world".
Klaus Schmidt emphasises that this is just a theory: "Gobekli Tepe is extraordinary enough, without speculation". "Gobekli changes everything. It's elaborate, it's complex, and it is pre-agricultural. That fact alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time."
Gobekli Tepe site has stunned all archaeologists, these massive stones were quarried, cut to shape, hauled to the place and sculpted to such a high standard by Stone Age man using only simple obsidian tools.
The first surveying works of archeology were carried out jointly by the Turkish and the American scientists in 1963, Prof. Dr. Halet Cambel and Prof. Dr. Robert Braidwood, Chicago University. The first information was released by Peter Benedict in 1980 but no one was aware of the significance of this discovery. Actual excavations started only years later in 1995 after the discovery of the native shepherd. Harold Hauptman, from German Institute in Istanbul, did surface exploration and this was followed by the proper works by Klaus Schmidt of the same institute over the past 14 years. The site covers an area of 80 000 sq meters and the works have only been reached down to 5 meters and 15 more meters remain to be excavated.
There are many mounds located on a crescent surrounding the antique city of Harran at a distance of 30-40 kms. These are Göbeklitepe, Goktepe, Gürcütepe, Sefertepe, Karahantepe, Hamzantepe and Balikligol which is an important settlement of Neolithic Ages. Nevali Cori located in the vicinity of the town of Hilvan, Kumartepe near Saskan village(Bozova) and Teleilat Hoyuk(Birecik) and many more around Harran are among the many mounds not yet excavated.
According to the archeologists, Klaus Schmidt, the site is 5500 years older than the earliest settlements of Mesopotamia and 7000 years older than the well known Stonehenge in Britain. The archeologist Ian Hodder, at the Stanford University, who was in charge of the excavations at Catalhoyuk said that such antique settlements are commonly believed to be constructed only by settled communities. The Gobeklitepe changed and broadened our understanding of the unsettled communities who lived on the flesh of hunted animals and gathering of fruits. He continued to say "Gobekli changes everything. It's elaborate, it's complex and it is pre-agricultural. That alone makes the site one of the most important archaeological finds in a very long time."
The mound is of some 300m diameter and 15 meters height, the temples discovered are circular in shape described by columns tons of weight around the periphery with two large columns of 5 meters tall in the middle towering over the rest. They bear relieves of many animals: lions, reptiles, scorpions, gazelles, foxes, boars, bald ibis, cranes living in the locality. These freestanding stones are anthropomorphic in the shape: the top part could symbolize the head while the stem could symbolize the body.
One column with a lion relief and another that of a crocodile are astounding examples of the skill of those artists in a time of transition from Paleolithic/Mesolithic era to sedentary life of early Neolithic. Putting together all the findings and observations it is evident that those who lived on these plateau built their worshipping temples before they made their rudimentary dwellings. General configuration of the columns indicates that this was not a living place but a temple and up to now no signs of dwellings have been detected. However all remains to the future excavations to credit these claims. The signs of the earliest human touch here will be exposed when the excavations reach to the very first level of occupation.
The Gobeklitepe storey started in 1993 with the accidental findings of carved stone blocks found by a shepherd grazing his flock on the flat plains 18km northeast of Sanliurfa. He told this to the authorities and the news later came to the notice of Klaus Schmidt at the German archeology institute in Istanbul. Schmidt points out that moving hunters living on the low plains around Gobekli tepe were only coming to this site for worshipping.
In view of the scholars the Gobeklitepe site is no less than 14 thousand years old, in other words it is 7500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids. According to Schmidt it was once part of the fertile golden crescent but the misuse of mankind resulted in the loss of this heaven on earth. Then the inhabitants, 8000 years ago, buried all these carved stone columns under a pile of earth in a regular sequence.
Sanliurfa museum, God of Reproduction, a human statue of 2 meters high carved out of limestone rock and eyes of obsedian was discovered in the Balikligol in 1993, Sanliurfa excavations. This is believed to be the oldest human figure ever to be discovered to date and it describes a male looking down to his genital organ seized by his both hands.
Some scientist argues further they say the site was the place where Adam and Eve lived after they expelled from the heaven. They put forward the following arguments:
-Garden of Eden is due west of Assyrian Land, (Old Testament)
- Garden of Eden is enclosed by four rivers two of these Euphrates and the Tigris are in this area,
-Assyrian records mention a civilization known as Beth Eden and it was referred to the low plains of Gobeklitepe,
-Torah points it to the north of Syria. In Sumerian language 'Eden' means flat plain and Gobekli is located right in the middle of the Harran Plain.
The research carried out by the Norwegian scientists proved that progeny of many crops: wheat, barley, pea, lentil, chickpea, flax and of the kind were found in this fertile zone known today as the golden crescent. The wild Einkorn wheat found in Karacadag (largest mountain close to Diyarbakir) region was domesticated at Gobeklitepe and spread to the world from here.
All the columns are found standing on the main rock. Very good quality obsidian has been used in the manufacture of the carving tools and axes made of basalt rock. Excavations have proved large cut blocks, chipped stones of various sizes strewn to the flanks of the rise.
To date 20 temples were discovered but of these only 6 have been excavated to the surface. After the Gobeklitepe discovery the temple site in Malta dating to 5000 B.C. and others in Egypt dating to 6500 and Jericho in Palestine have fallen to the shadow of the Gobekli site. According to the governor of Sanliurfa the site spreads over an area of 80.000 sqm.
The most crucial problem is how to protect the site against the weathering agents. The most feasible but expensive solution is to have them enveloped by a glass roof similar to that of Terrace Houses at Ephesus or Catalhoyuk.
The excavations will continue at the site in the summer months under a Project carried out joinly by the Sanlıurfa Museum and the German Archaeological Institute in İstanbul.
T-shaped limestone monoliths
Columns wrapped for protection against gale and rain for the winter.