Göbeklitepe is the oldest man-made cult site so far discovered in the province of eastern Turkey.
In Şanlıurfa, in the southeastern part of Anatolia, we visited a very important place, not only for the Turks, but for all of humanity.
There is one habit that should not be missed if Arrived in Sanliurfa: You must visit the most famous attraction, Balıklıgölt, meaning “Sacred Fish Lake”. Based on the legend of the Prophet Abraham, people here feed hundreds of sacred carp.
We didn’t come here just to feed the fish. In fact, we are here to learn more about our past. We are at one of the archaeological sites in Taş Tepeler – literally ‘Stone Hills’: the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Göbeklitepe, a place that changed the way historians and archaeologists think about the cradle of civilization.
Excavations here began in the mid-1990s, and it is believed that what they found is the oldest man-made cult site yet discovered. Carved layers of megaliths refer to, and are estimated to date back to before BC. It dates back to 10,000 years ago, 6,000 years before Stonehenge!
The temple’s T-shaped limestone columns—carved with images of wild animals, figures, and abstract icons—provide insight into the lifestyle and beliefs of the people who lived in Upper Mesopotamia.
Archaeologists previously believed that humanity did not form into groups before the Neolithic revolution, which grouped scattered groups of hunter-gatherer peoples into farming villages. However, Göbeklitepe upended everything they knew so far.
“Until now, we assumed that agriculture was at the forefront of mankind’s transition to a sedentary life. However, if we study the presence of life in Göbeklitepe, we do not see the transition to agriculture. And this happened a little later. Although it was a hunter-gatherer society These buildings were built according to their beliefs.
This could mean that humanity was really driven to settle down by the desire to build and stay close to temples. And let’s not forget that only 5% of the area has been excavated so far, imagine what treasures could still be under the site!
Göbeklitepe is not unique. There is one nearby that may be even older: its “little brother” Karahantepe. Various structures and more than 260 T-shaped obelisks have been found here. There is what appears to be a cult hall with 11 columns and a mysterious carved human head.
Everything that was found in Karahantepe and the surrounding sites is on display at the Şanlıurfa Archaeological Museum. Here, the museum director and former excavation leader at Göbeklitepe explains why Karahantepe could give us more pieces to try and complete the puzzle.
Celal Uludağ, Director of Sanliurfa Archaeological Museum:
“In these structures, daily tools, stone pots, grinding bowls and large slabs were found. These findings showed that there were indeed residential areas in Karantep next to the ritual area.”
Şanlıurfa Archaeological Museum displays 5,000 artifacts on an area of about 30,000 square metres. Among them is Balıklıgöl, also known as Urfa Man, the oldest human statue in the world.
“Of course, archaeological excavations are still going on in Şanlıurfa. We are also preparing new artifacts discovered as a result of excavations for inclusion in the exhibition.
The museum’s expert teams carefully clean every piece found at the ancient sites here before it is put on display.