One of the most mysterious human structures ever discovered is a series of nested, circular walls and steles, or monoliths, carved evocatively with animals, the place probably served as a temple for nomadic tribes in the area. 12,000-year-old circles of limestone pillars each weighing from 10 to 20 metric tons have been excavated in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey. More than twice the age of Mesopotamia, 40 standing T-shaped columns have so far been revealed in four circles between 30 feet and 98 feet (10 to 30 meters) in diameter. Ground-penetrating radar indicates there are still 250 more pillars buried in 16 circles extending over another 22 acres of the 30-acre Neolithic site. It was not a permanent residence, though it’s possible a few priests lived there all year. It is the first permanent human-built structure that we have ever found, and probably represented the pinnacle of the local Mesopotamian civilization of its era. What were people worshiping there? When did they come? Were they there to do something other than worship? We may never know, but archaeologists are working hard to find out.
“WHAT WAS SO IMPORTANT TO THESE EARLY PEOPLE THAT THEY GATHERED TO BUILD (AND BURY) THE STONE RINGS? THE GULF THAT SEPARATES US– ANDREW CURRY, SMITHSONIAN REPORTER
FROM GOBEKLI TEPE’S BUILDERS IS ALMOST UNIMAGINABLE.”
A reporter from the Smithsonian magazine who sensed an alien quality during his visit to Gobekli Tepe in 2008. He wrote, “Predating Stonehenge by at least 6,000 years, Turkey’s stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization” far earlier than the academically acceptable timeline of Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. “What was so important to these early people that they gathered to build (and bury) the stone rings? The gulf that separates us from Gobekli Tepe’s builders is almost unimaginable. Indeed, though I stood among the looming megaliths eager to take in their meaning, they didn’t speak to me. 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.’’