Göbekli Tepe - The Oldest Known Place of Worship in the World
Aerial view of the excavation site near Sanliurfa in Anatolia
Göbekli Tepe is one of the most fascinating Neolithic sites in the world. It is a tell, an artificial mound dating to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. It was not used for habitation; it consists of several sanctuaries in the form of round megalithic enclosures. The site lies about 15km north-east of the Turkish city of Sanlıurfa, at the highest point of an extended mountain range that is visible from the surrounding planes (pic 2). Its enormous deposition of layers, up to fifteen meters high, have accumulated over several millennia over an area of about nine hectares. Even today, the place has lost nothing of its magic appeal. For example, a wishing tree which stands on top of the ridge is still sought out by the residents of the surrounding area (pics 3&4).
Archaeologists found an important piece of the puzzle in the early history of humanity at the site, which contributes to a completely new understanding of the process of settling and the beginning of agriculture. The hill, which is strewn with countless stone implements and large-format, regular-shaped ashlars, revealed its secret as a result of the excavations carried out since 1995 by the German Archaeological Institute in cooperation with the Archaeological Museum in Sanlıurfa (Klaus Schmidt 1995).