Göbekli Tepe 12 November 2022
Göbekli Tepe (Turkish: [ɟœbecˈli teˈpe], "Potbelly Hill"; known as Girê Mirazan or Xirabreşkê in Kurdish) is a Neolithic archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. Dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, between c. 9500 and 8000 BCE, the site comprises a number of large circular structures supported by massive stone pillars – the world's oldest known megaliths. Many of these pillars are richly decorated with figurative anthropomorphic details, clothing, and reliefs of wild animals, providing archaeologists rare insights into prehistoric religion and the particular iconography of the period. The 15 m (50 ft)-high, 8 ha (20-acre) tell also includes many smaller buildings, quarries, and stone-cut cisterns from the Neolithic, as well as some traces of activity from later periods.
The site was first used at the dawn of the Southwest Asian Neolithic period, which marked the appearance of the oldest permanent human settlements anywhere in the world. Prehistorians link this Neolithic Revolution to the advent of agriculture, but disagree on whether farming caused people to settle down or vice versa. Göbekli Tepe, a monumental complex built on the top of a rocky mountaintop, with no clear evidence of agricultural cultivation produced to date, has played a prominent role in this debate. The site's original excavator, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, described it as the "world's first temple": a sanctuary used by groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers from a wide area, with few or no permanent inhabitants. Other archaeologists have challenged this interpretation, arguing that the evidence for a lack of agriculture and a resident population was far from conclusive. Recent research has also led the current excavators of Göbekli Tepe to revise or abandon many of the conclusions underpinning Schmidt's interpretation.
First noted in a survey in 1963, Schmidt recognised the site as prehistoric in 1994 and began excavations there the following year. After his death in 2014, work continued as a joint project of Istanbul University, Şanlıurfa Museum, and the German Archaeological Institute, under the overall direction of Turkish prehistorian Necmi Karul. Göbekli Tepe was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, recognising its outstanding universal value as "one of the first manifestations of human-made monumental architecture". As of 2021, less than 5% of the site had been excavated.