Gobekli Tepe, the ruins of one of the most incredible monuments of the planet, is located near the border with Syria in southern Turkey. It is an archaeological site atop a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey. The megalithic stone circles of Gobekli Tepe are considered to be the oldest religious structure ever found in the world, which predate Stonehenge in England by six thousand years.
Constructed over 11,000 years ago, the huge pillars of Gobekli Tepe are as tall as 5 meters, some carved with animal shapes and weighing up to 10 tons. The mysterious temple, which consists of three huge stone circles, was somehow buried for some unknown reason in the distant past. After 13 years of digging, the investigating archaeologists have failed to recover a single stone-cutting tool from the site. How the ancient people perfectly sculpted those tall columns 11000 to 12000 years ago without any proper tool, is an enigma still today. Gobekli Tepe seems to have been built before the advent of agriculture, religion, written language, the wheel, pottery, the domestication of animals, and the use of anything other than simple stone tools.
The sites of Gobekli Tepe were excavated by Klaus Schmidt, a German archaeologist, in 1996 and it continued till his death in 2014. Schmidt also believed that the sites were early Neolithic sanctuaries used as a holy site and not used as a settlement. American archaeologist Peter Benedict suggested that the Neolithic layers were transcended by the subsequent Byzantine and Islamic cemeteries. The survey noted numerous pebbles or flints scattered on the plain. Huge limestone slabs, upper parts of the T-shaped pillars, were thought to be grave markers. Schmidt considered Göbekli Tepe a central location for a cult of the dead and that the carved animals in the pillars are there to protect the dead. Though no tombs or graves were found, Schmidt believed that they remain to be discovered in niches located behind the sacred circles’ walls. In fact, its circular structures, with their intricately carved stones and typical T-shaped pillars, are more than 12,000 years old – older than the invention of agriculture or even pottery.
Using radar and modern geomagnetic surveys, about 16 or more megalithic circles were detected underground. Archaeologists have predicted at least another fifty years of excavations ahead. What is known is that, this site is Neolithic and predates agriculture by 500 years and writing by 6000.
Turkey hopes to eventually boost tourism at the site, which is in a region where tourism has declined due to the Syrian conflict and the resulting refuee crisis .