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Gobekli Tepe
October 30, 2008 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? "Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization."
posted by homunculus (28 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
"There's more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today"

That's a staggering concept - and helps to illustrate how old this site actually is. Fantastic post!
posted by panboi at 3:52 PM on October 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


How do they know it was a temple or 'holy place'? Couldn't it have been used as the base of some wooden structure that rotted away over the years?
posted by delmoi at 3:52 PM on October 30, 2008


It wasn't crushed by a dwarf.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. Thank you, I hadn't heard of it before. Wonderful to think of our ancestors building this; perhaps the carved animals are clan symbols?
posted by jokeefe at 4:26 PM on October 30, 2008


delmoi, the article notes that they didn't find evidence that it was a dwelling such as stoves, garbage pits, etc., but they did find lots of animal and human bones, perhaps suggesting burial, sacrifice, etc.
posted by cell divide at 4:29 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Love this.
posted by Toecutter at 4:31 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Excellent article. But what is even better is the rants - and I mean Manson on coke rants - about how the people who built this were Armenians. How any mention in the article that it lies within the borders of modern day Turkey are an affront to history and their proud people.

Seriously. What. The. Fuck. People living eleven fucking thousand years ago apparently were Armenians.
posted by Riemann at 4:54 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


People living eleven fucking thousand years ago apparently were Armenians.

Well, they haven't been around that long, but Armenians as a people have been historically noted at least as far back as the 13th century BCE, and the area where Gobekli Tepe was found in what would become historical Armenia. Which is of course not at all the same as saying the people who built it were Armenians.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:05 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great find, homonculus.
Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies. (...)
"This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later"
Wow! Just wow! So rituals come first, then settlements around rituals, then agriculture around these settlements. Incredible new way of looking at prehistory.
posted by bru at 6:24 PM on October 30, 2008


The photos are stunning, too. Another great find.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2008


Marisa - Even if you accept the rather strained reasoning (to say the least) to equate Urartu with modern Armenians it is still more than ~7700 years between the building of this temple and the beginnings of their culture.

That is almost twice as long as the time between now and the building of the great pyramid.
posted by Riemann at 7:09 PM on October 30, 2008


Marisa - Even if you accept the rather strained reasoning (to say the least) to equate Urartu with modern Armenians it is still more than ~7700 years between the building of this temple and the beginnings of their culture.

Right, this is why I said they haven't been around 11,000 years and that even the site being in historic Armenia doesn't mean it was built by Armenians.

I suspect they're arguing about a more contemporary question, taking issue with the article identifyng the site as in Turkey. Which seems silly, maybe, and indisputable, but the site probably was in Armenia before it was in Turkey, even though it wasn't built by Armenians. I was only really guessing out loud about why some people might be "ranting like Manson on coke" about this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:18 PM on October 30, 2008


Stunning is right - I am in awe of the sculptures and relief work - thanks for this great post, homunculus - you find and bring us great stuff!
posted by madamjujujive at 7:18 PM on October 30, 2008


delmoi wrote: How do they know it was a temple or 'holy place'? Couldn't it have been used as the base of some wooden structure that rotted away over the years?

We've found a series of small walls. We're very excited.
posted by jack_mo at 7:27 PM on October 30, 2008


homunculus: as ever, thank you. this is wonderful.
posted by CitizenD at 10:21 PM on October 30, 2008


Wonder if it is related to Çatalhöyük, the first "city," also found in turkey.
posted by afu at 10:51 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


They were utterly foreign, placed there by people who saw the world in a way I will never comprehend. There are no sources to explain what the symbols might mean. Schmidt agrees. "We're 6,000 years before the invention of writing here," he says.

This blows my mind in ways that I can't really explain. This was so important to them and we'll never truly know why.
posted by minifigs at 2:45 AM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks to afu for mentioning Çatalhöyük, for it is truly bizarre and worth a look.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:26 AM on October 31, 2008


This is completely fascinating, thanks! The art is so amazingly sophisticated - look at this frieze and then go forward 10,000 years or so and look at wall reliefs like that one, although it's not the best example. I know I've seen that use of pattern in some Assyrian and Mesopotamian work and it's just amazing to think of how the Neolithic work might be a source for all the stonework that came so much later.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:14 AM on October 31, 2008


Fascinating stuff, and many thanks to homunculus for the post. I'll be very interested in seeing how knowledge of the site develops as more of it is excavated.

Minor cavil: I hate the "World’s First Temple?" bullshit. The difference between "oldest known temple" and "world's first temple" is vast and unbridgeable. But I realize even scientists have to use bullshit to sell their product these days.
posted by languagehat at 11:43 AM on October 31, 2008


For perspective, written language has been around less time than these ruins had been at the time written language was devised.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:05 PM on October 31, 2008


Minor cavil: I hate the "World’s First Temple?" bullshit...

Get Off My Prehistoric Lawn!!!
posted by y2karl at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2008


"There's more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today"

For perspective, written language has been around less time than these ruins had been at the time written language was devised.


Yeah, that is really mind-boggling.
posted by homunculus at 12:42 PM on October 31, 2008


I hate the "World’s First Temple?" bullshit. The difference between "oldest known temple" and "world's first temple" is vast and unbridgeable. But I realize even scientists have to use bullshit to sell their product these days.

Even calling this a temple is debateable. We don't know what it was. Also, who's to say that Drachenloch wasn't a temple? It dates back 30000 years and it shows all the signs of continued ritual use by the "people" (Hominids at least) that came there. Does that make it the world's oldest temple? Well, not if you count the cave in Lebanon where deer were ritually cut up and buried in beds of stone and sprincled red ochre 50000 years ago, or maybe the cave in Italy where Neanderthals carried a special white clay deep into it's depths in order to ritualistically throw it onto an odd animal shaped stalagmite.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:50 PM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's another archaeological story I learned about recently:

Mysterious Neolithic People Made Optical Art

The Mysterious Cucuteni-Trypillians
posted by homunculus at 12:53 PM on October 31, 2008


They were into op-art and called Trypillians (trip-aliens)? Dude, archeologists, lay off the acid.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:03 PM on October 31, 2008


So rituals come first, then settlements around rituals, then agriculture around these settlements.

"evidence, perhaps, of the irresistible human urge to explain the unexplainable"
posted by kliuless at 5:46 AM on November 16, 2008


2,900-Year-Old Gravestone Reveals Ancient Belief System
posted by homunculus at 2:52 PM on November 18, 2008


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