A summary of a talk given by Turkish archeologist, Nezih Başgelen, at the Karia Princes hotel on 20 November 2015.


“GöbekliTepe is the first known man-made holy site situated on a hillside approximately 18 kms north east of the city of Urfa, an ancient city (Edessa) in south eastern Turkey.  The mound which is approximately 300 metres in length, 250 metres in breadth and 15 metres in height belonged to an older age, one that thrived at the end of the last Ice Age following the Great Flood at the end of the Paleolithic Age.  The megaliths found here were so ancient that they predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years.

The site was constructed l2,000 years ago, seven millennia before the great pyramids of Giza.  Well before such civilisations as the  Mesopotamian or the Mayan for example.

The unearthed massive carved stones date back at least 12,000 years.  It is  almost impossible to imagine or comprehend how  they were skillfully crafted and arranged by prehistoric  people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.  When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.  This attractive place is thought to be a temple but at the same time it is the world’s oldest sculpture workshop.

The inhabitants of this site are assumed to have been hunter-gatherers who possibly lived in villages for at least for a part of the year.

Standing  stones or pillars are arranged in circles in the pits. On the Göbeklitepe hillside at present there are four rings of excavated pillars.  Each ring has a roughly similar layout:  in the centre are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward.  The tallest pillars tower 16 feet across and weigh between seven and ten tons. Some of the pillars are elaborately carved with intricate depictions of at least 20 animal species such as bulls, snakes, foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling.  The T-shaped megalith pillars’ broadsides are carved with an unbelivable skill.  The examples of stone sculptures are surprisingly well designed, aesthetic and artistic.  It seems unbelievable that even without metal chisels or hammers, prehistoric masons wielding tools of obsidian pieces could have chipped away at softer limestone outcrops, shaping the pillars on the spot before carrying them considerable distances to the summit and lifting them upright.

Amazingly, the temple’s builders were able to cut, shape, and transport 16-ton stones hundreds of feet, despite having no wheels or beasts of burden. This enigma still remains as the ‘’mystery of GöbekliTepe’’ that still needs to be solved.

Claus Schmidt considered GöbekliTepe a central location for a cult of the dead and that the carved animals were there seemingly to protect the dead. Though no tombs or graves have been found so far, but thanks to advanced radar research in-depth, it has been discovered that the area was a mound which has a height of 15 m and is about 300 m in diameter which needs further investigation.

As no evidence has been found that people permanently resided on the summit of GöbekliTepe itself, the belief that this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale grows. The entire summit was mapped using ground-penetrating radar and geomagnetic surveys, charting where at least 16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres. The one-acre excavation covers less than five percent of the site. This temple area includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BC.

During the first phase, pre-pottery Neolithic, circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and a weight of up to 20 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. In the second phase, pre-pottery Neolithic period, the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. Nezih Başgelen stated that this place was used till about 8000 B.C and once the stone rings were finished, the ancient builders covered them over with dirt.”

Although we have become accustomed to increased interest in our conferences and activities, the number of participants attending this event was extremely high.  In fact the hotel management said it was a record.

 Selçuk Şahin

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>