The oldest temple in the world, Göbeklitepe is about 7,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge Monument. The ancient site, which had been on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List since 2011, was included in the prestigious list. The decision came during the 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Committee session in Manama, Bahrain.
According to Dr. Klaus Schmidt, director of the excavation at Göbeklitepe, the site dates back 11,500 years, to the tail end of the Stone Age. The predominant understanding was that during this time, huntergatherers roamed the Earth, never settling, living as each day came. The huge Göbekli Tepe complex, however, brings this view into question.
It consists of large, T-shaped pillars with animal carvings, huge stone rings, and a vast amount of rectangular rooms, many believed to have religious importance. One theory is that this site was not used for domestic purposes, but for rituals and sacrificies ant the the site at Göbekli Tepe is believed by some to be the oldest religious complex known to modern man. For this reason, the site
has often invited breathless comparisons to the “origin of religion,” which has long been associated with the Fertile Crescent and the ancient Sumerians, who invented written language.
Announcing that 2019 was declared as the Year of Göbekli Tepe, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the official opening Göbekli Tepe by his speech following:
“We are announcing 2019 as the year of Göbekli Tepe. Not only Göbekli Tepe but also Gaziantep, Mardin, Adıyaman provinces will be included in this business. This ancient settlement area has that attractive nature to the attention of the whole world.”
Doğuş Group, the Turkish-based international conglomerate, has already invested $15m in Göbeklitepe – a major archaeological site home to the oldest cult structure in the world. According to the partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism will see Doğuş Group become the sole partner of the major Neolithic site. “Göbekli Tepe is our zero point in time,” Chairman of Doğuş Group Ferit Şahenk said in a press release. The sponsorship of Doğuş Group at Göbeklitepe was shown as a case study within the scope of “private institutions in the long-term support of cultural heritage” in the 40th UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Istanbul in July 2016.
Equally curious is the fact that before this discovery, there was no evidence of hunter-gatherers ever erecting large monuments and buildings, making this perhaps the world's oldest known architecture.
Nearby the site ise Karacadağ Mountain, a mountain that geneticists believe to be the birth place of many of today's cultivated grains. It's theorized that Göbekli Tepe could be showing us a transition period, depicting nomadic cultures first attempt to farm, which would later bring about permanent settlement.
The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has the potential to change much of our understanding of the dawn of civilization, and especially the role that agriculture played. It had previously been assumed that permanent human settlements first arose when humanity gained the ability to farm - which allowed them to live a more stable life than hunting and gathering did. However, the construction of Göbekli Tepe predates the development of agricultural practices by quite some time, suggesting that some humans had created permanent settlements long before they started farming.
The depictions of vultures at Göbekli Tepe have parallels at other Anatolian and Near Eastern sites. The walls of many of the shrines at the large Neolithic settlement of Çatal Höyük (in existence from approximately 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE) in south-central Turkey were adorned with large skeletal representations of vultures. One theory put forward to explain the prominence of vultures in the early Anatolian Neolithic is in the context of possible excarnation practices suggesting a funerary cult.
After death, bodies would have been deliberately left outside and exposed, perhaps on some kind of wooden frame, where their skeletons where stripped of flesh by vultures and other birds of prey. The skeletons would then be interred somewhere else. Perhaps the ritual of excarnation was the focus of a cult of the dead practiced by the inhabitants of Göbekli Tepe, as it certainly seems to have been elsewhere in Anatolia and the Near East in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.