Sunday, November 25, 2018


View of Gobekli Tepe temple excavation,,
Public Domain.

I am writing this as an introduction to the remarkable phenomenon of Gobekli Tepe. I have no intention to make this any more than a simple introduction, in hopes of inspiring you, my readers, to dig in to the subject yourselves. Gobekli Tepe will reward your efforts.

Pillar with relief sculpture,
birds and boar,,
Public Domain.

"Gobekli Tepe, Turkish for "Potbelly Hill", is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Sanliurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level. The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th - 8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected - the world's oldest known megaliths. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock." (Wikipedia)

Gobekli Tepe, pillar carved
with arms and a belt,,
Public Domain.

The main site of Gobekli Tepe consists of a series of circular constructions as described above. Remarkably, each one was apparently used for some time and then buried, with a new circular construction built for use. Four of the circular constructions have been excavated with a probably 16 more still to be investigated. Indeed, T-shaped stone pillars have reportedly been found on a number of other hilltops in the region indicating the possibility that the phenomenon of Gobekli Tepe was widespread. (Wikipedia)

Lion and boar on a pillar
at Gobekli Tepe,,
Public Domain.

Gobekli Tepe is classified as a Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period site, and "is a series of mainly circular and oval-shaped structures set on the top of a hill. Excavations began in 1995 by Prof. Klaus Schmidt with the help of the German Archeological Institute. There is archeological proof that these installations were not used for domestic use, but predominately for ritual or religious purposes. Excavations and geo-magnetic results revealed that there are at least 20 installations, which in archeological terms can be called a temple. Based on what has been unearthed so far, the pattern principle seems to be that there are two huge monumental pillars in the center of each installation, surrounded by enclosures and walls, featuring more pillars in those set-ups." (

Three-dimensional lion
carved on a pillar,,
Public Domain.

It is these pillars which we are concerned with here in RockArtBlog. They are remarkably carved with low relief images and symbols, some have three-dimensional animals, and human appendages making them stylized standing human figures. They comprise a remarkable collection of stunning early art.

Dating of the various layers has given a range of dates from 9130 - 7370 BCE (Wikipedia), with the largest and most ornate constructions tending to be from the earlier period. This means that 12,000 years ago, before humans had invented farming or pottery, the people of Gobekli Tepe were carving stone, building temples, and sculpting stone figures. Most of the stone carving is in relief, but a few examples are three-dimensional. All-in-all they comprise an incredibly sophisticated complex from a very early period.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below.


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