Beware of Bias!
Göbekli Tepe: Site of Megalithic Mystery
Long before the mighty stones of the pyramids and Stonehenge were erected, mammoth megaliths soared skyward on a mountain in Turkey. The oldest site with gargantuan architecture is known as Göbekli Tepe. And it was almost lost forever.
A 1963 archaeological team noted several knolls on a black limestone plateau of a mountain ridge 750 meters above sea level. It’s fifty miles from where we identified the site of the Garden of Eden. Today, the nearest city is Şanliurfa.
The man-made mound consists of earth and rock debris. To the west was a large collection of stone tools. Also present were cut and dressed slabs with some attempt at carved relief.
An expert decided that it was the remains of a Byzantine cemetery. The team lost interest.
In October 1994, Professor Klaus Schmidt decided to survey the area before it was given to limestone quarrying. Professor Schmidt immediately recognized the slab architecture as similar to other sites in the area.
Göbekli Tepe was saved! But not even Schmidt guessed the massive amount of discovery and mystery he was about to uncover.
Returning with a complete dig team, Schmidt and his team drove as close to the barren Germuş mountain rangeas possible. They hiked to the top of the highest mountain. They carried all of their food, clothes, and equipment with them.
Very difficult to access, but widely visible, Göbekli Tepe was far from the nearest springs. The quarry from which the stone slabs were cut was at the bottom of the mountain. Items still waiting to be discovered had sometimes traveled hundreds of miles to be used at this place.
The mound perched on the mountain peak, widely visible in every direction. It was one thousand feet in diameter, the length of 2 ¾ football fields.
Schmidt dug into the mound. The debris was a mixture of limestone rubble, flint artifacts, stone vessels and tools, and a large number of animal bones.
He hit stone. He used his tools to check the age of the dig site. He couldn’t believe the reading. He checked again.
The site, known as Göbekli Tepe, was far older than any other megalithic site in the world. It would change everything that historians had believed about ancient people!
Schmidt’s team had barely begun. Mysteries already confronted them.
- Why was such a remote site chosen?
- How did they transport megaliths from the bottom of the mountain to the building site at the mountain top?
- Who built it?
- Where did they get the large numbers of laborers?
- How did laborers maintain hydration?
- Surrounding villages were hunter-gatherer settlements. Did this construction change them to agrarian?
- And most of all, why was the architecture buried? For it became obvious while they dug deeper that the fill had been carefully packed in and around structures, possibly in an effort to preserve them, as if the builders intended to return.
Even today, decades later, we don’t know most of the answers. But digging continues.
Beware of Bias!
Nearly every reference to Göbekli Tepe calls it The First Temple. If you read Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods you will find most of the book filled with hypotheses. Now, I find hypotheses interesting, but most of these are based on later archeological finds.
It is illogical to base hypotheses about the first of anything on later similar finds. It’s possible that aspects of the early site were appropriated later for purposes different than was intended originally.
Any hypotheses we discuss will be related to facts and authorities already established. The basic difficulty is that we are still dealing with preliterate cultures. The builders can’t tell us the answers.
Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Beer & Company, Rochester Vermont, 2014, p. 18, 23, 28.