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Göbekli Tepe: the oldest temple

Göbekli Tepe: the oldest temple

Man work and workshop have bonds deeper than any of us have imagined.  From the ancient time till today we seem to be drawn to the idea of the God’s home, the temple.  We visit it, find peace and connect with it. We admire the work and the story behind it. It is more than the glitz of sin-lands and romance of Rome. The temples we visit while travel or travel there especially for the temple is more than spirituality.


The story today is of the later kind. The travel is for the temple and not just a stop by. Sounds boring? How about if I tell you it’s an ancient temple? Well that’s not really a point of distinction right? Temples are as old as they come. So Whats the big deal. This temple beats the Stone Age itself to predate its existence. Not by a couple of centuries, it is 60 centuries before the Stone Age. It is that old!

Now that I have your attention, let me ease you in. The place is called Göbekli Tepe. It is located in the new country of Turkey in the southeastern region of the country. It is in the northeastern direction from the ancient town Urfa / Edessa, now known as Şanlıurfa.

It is a Neolithic structure roughly translated as Potbelly hill. The history behind this place is pretty awesome as is the story of discovery. It was noticed and wasn’t excavated with the idea that the stones inside were beyond use. It was perceived to be an old Byzantine cemetery. The land was allocated as agricultural land and the locals used it as and when they needed. It was a common practice to move the stones around whenever required. The world regrets this action for in the process the oldest temple archeology was heavily disturbed with evidences being destroyed.



Then a German archeologist, Klaus Schmidt, startled the world in 1995. He was operating in a nearby field and the Chicago researcher’s brief description made him take a closer look. It is said that within minutes he realized that the stones were more than that. They were prehistoric. The weird thing here is that in those times the surrounding area of Göbekli Tepe was found to be luscious. The tress and grasses all made life easy. This was the time when man was nomads hence they dint live in the place. It can be said to be a place for hunters gathering. The carvings on the T shaped stones are said to be more vivid than compatible with the said age and time. There are various animals carved in the stones like lions and boars or tortoise. Unlike other carvings they are said to be scary and beautiful in a weird way.

With Radiocarbon dating and other analytical techniques it was found that the agricultural byzantine cemetery was actually the oldest of the old temples of the world. It is known as the cathedral on the hills. The world had trained its eyes on this discovery.


The thing to ponder upon here is the fact that man was capable of designing such an engineering challenging structure in the age where tools were scarce. The temple came first then came the city. The bones of deer and bears of those times make the findings stronger. There are over 20 open oval rooms found in the site which are approximately as big as the circles with 30 meter radius. The nomads who were hunters in essential made this structure! This has the historians stumped.


The ovals have T shaped structure in the middle which shows the architectural prowess of the people for they seem to define a human persona with arms. The structure also has 3-D effects and has the oldest stone structure made by man. It is a known fact that the human burial s didn’t take place here. There was no residential use and hence is said to be a communal house of sorts. Fires were lit in the smaller holes. If prayers actually took place of not, in what form is all a mystery.


How do you go there? If this were 2005 he answer would be you need your own car, the guide doesn’t speak English and the travel is horrendous. Today there are specific itinerary that have your flights booked from Istanbul to Şanlıurfa. The 2 hr. flight will get you to the land. There are AC coaches to take you to the place with English speaking guides helping you fill up your quota of history and spirituality. It is followed by lunch in the local restaurant and interaction with the local public. The evening allows you to pick up souvenirs for home. The shopping in the local market then flight back to Istanbul. The itinerary will have you dropped back to your hotels. A good way to spend your Turkey trip. If ancient is what you want then this one is a good deal.

some people go as far as suggesting that this is the garden of Eden where Adam had the apple that damned the entire humanity. Now that would be neat !

This place is now being turned into a museum cum conservation site Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has led the initiative to preserve the natural and rustic state of the oldest place of human gathering, the Göbekli Tepe. With the national and international support, this place is geared up to be a world tourism attraction.

About sneha pujani

an avid reader and amateur writer.. I love expressing my thoughts with words and share it with the world. cheers to life !

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