Topics: Neolithic, Neolithic Revolution, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Pages: 8 (2986 words) Published: April 3, 2012
Humanity has always searched for god. The more people come together with that goal in common, the higher the collective energy. Mountains can sometimes be moved, and sometimes temples can appear seemingly out of nowhere, as if sprung from the very ground itself. The ongoing argument concerning the rise of civilization is centered almost wholly around the domestication of plants and animals. The prevailing view of V. Gordon Childe’s principle “that social structure and organization were bent to the demands of technology.” (Childe 1954:23-4), is now directly challenged by what archaeologist Klaus Schmidt is determining from the excavation of Gobekli Tepe; “that far from causing sedentism, agriculture actually responded to it.” (James 2007:784). The archaeological fieldwork surrounding the excavation site of Gobekli Tepe, the world’s oldest man-made temple, brings forth no evidence of an organized, socioeconomic settlement that supported the labor necessary to construct such a grand ceremonial complex. Even the secondary contextual evidence of the immediate area surrounding finds only the activity areas of small groups of hunter gatherers from that same time period. The discovery of Gobekli Tepe, dating back 12,000, years is now the main counterpoint to the argument that complex, permanent settlements had to form first in order to support the construction of large scale cultural monuments.

Six miles from the ancient city of Urfa, Gobekli Tepe, Turkish for hill with a navel, rises 1,000 feet above the Urfa plain. It is surrounded with vistas as far as the eye can see, the 360 degree panorama being comprised of the Taurus Mountains to the north, the Karadag Mountains to the east, the Harran plain to the south, the sightline finally being broken only by the crags that hide the Euphrates river valley to the west. It lies at the northernmost tip of the Fertile Crescent, which is said to be the cradle of civilization. The entire site is spread over 22 acres of plateau, with the hill itself rising up from that 15 meters in height by roughly 300 meters in diameter (Author unknown). The excavation site on this hill has to do with the actual temple complex itself, which is a series of circular or oval megalithic buildings 30 to 90 feet across. Out of the seven buildings that have been dated absolutely, only three have been excavated, totaling only an acre in area - less than 5% of the entire site. Geomagnetic surveys lead experts to believe there are 16 to 20 more such possible structures that spread over a 12 acre area. The buildings are formed at their outside perimeter by unworked stone walls about six feet high. Immediately inside these walls are massive, evenly spaced, T-shaped stone pillars nine to ten feet high, weighing on average ten to twenty tons, which are thought to have been roof supports. On the interior of these pillars there exists another wall sporting a low bench which runs around the circumference, and looks inward to where there exists an even larger pair of stone monoliths; these central pylons average as much as 50 tons and run 16 to 17 feet high, this design being mirrored in each of the other excavated buildings surrounding. Interestingly, the floors are of burnt lime or what is known today as terrazzo, a design element not seen again until ancient Rome several millennia in the future. Many of the columns are elaborately carved, mostly with animal motifs; however, food prey such as gazelles, red deer, wild boar and cattle make up only a small portion of the relief carvings, with the bulk of the carvings depicting animals of a more frightening nature, such as spiders, scorpions, snakes, and vultures (Curry 2008:56,57,60; Thomas 2007:2; Scham 2008:22-26; Symmes 2010:46-48). There are two markedly different levels to Gobekli Tepe, “the older [deeper] structures belong to the pre-pottery Neolithic A period, which is designated as Natufian with a date range of 12,000 to 9,000 ya, […] these structures are more...
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