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Göbekli Tepe - The Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs

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The transition from nonfood producing to farming societies first took place during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) of the Near East. It happened immediately after the end of the Pleistocene, between the 10(th) to the 8(th) millennium BC. One of the main questions that have exercised the minds of generations of archaeologists is why people first gave up a hunting and gathering way of life and start to domesticate plants and animals. In other words, why did the Neolithic Revolution take place? The new discoveries at Gobekli Tepe have turned up evidence for explanations that differ from the generally accepted wisdom on this issue.
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Documenta Praehistorica XXXVII (2010)
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries.
New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus
on sculptures and high reliefs
Klaus Schmidt
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient-Abteilung, Berlin, DE
kls@orient.dainst.de
Göbekli Tepe: the site and its significance
Göbekli Tepe is one of the most fascinating Neolithic
sites in the world. It is a tell, an artificial mound da-
ting to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. It was not used for
habitation; it consists of several sanctuaries in the
form of round megalithic enclosures. The site lies
about 15km north-east of the Turkish city of Sanlıur-
fa, at the highest point of an extended mountain
range that can be seen for many kilometres around.
It is a landmark visible from far away (Fig. 1). Its
enormous deposition of layers, up to fifteen metres
high, have accumulated over several millennia over
an area of about nine hectares. Even today, the place
has lost nothing of its magic appeal. For example, a
wishing tree which stands on top of the ridge is still
sought out by the residents of the surrounding area.
Archaeologists found an important piece of the puz-
zle in the early history of humanity at the site, which
contributes to a completely new understanding of
the process of sedentism and the beginning of agri-
culture. The hill, which is strewn with countless
stone implements and large-format, regular-shaped
ashlars, revealed its secret as a result of the excava-
tions carried out since 1995 by the German Archaeo-
logical Institute in cooperation with the Archaeolo-
gical Museum in Sanlıurfa (Schmidt 1995).
Remarkably, no residential buildings have been dis-
covered. However, at least two phases of monumen-
tal religious architecture have been uncovered. Of
these, the older layer is the most impressive. The
ABSTRACT – The transition from non-food producing to farming societies first took place during the
Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) of the Near East. It happened immediately after the end of the Pleisto-
cene, between the 10
th
to the 8
th
millennium BC. One of the main questions that have exercised the
minds of generations of archaeologists is why people first gave up a hunting and gathering way of
life and start to domesticate plants and animals. In other words, why did the Neolithic Revolution
take place? The new discoveries at Göbekli Tepe have turned up evidence for explanations that dif-
fer from the generally accepted wisdom on this issue.
IZVLEEK – Prehod od skupnosti, ki hrane niso pridelovale, do skupnosti kmetovalcev se je najprej
zgodil v predkeraminem neolitiku na Blinjem Vzhodu. Zgodil se je takoj po koncu pleistocena, med
10. in 8. tisoletjem BC. Osnovno vpraanje, s katerim so se ukvarjale generacije arheologov je, za-
kaj so ljudje opustili lov in nabiralnitvo in prieli domesticirati rastline in ivali. Z drugimi beseda-
mi, zakaj se je zgodila neolitska revolucija? Nova odkritja na Göbekli Tepe so prinesla dokaze, ki
spreminjajo sedanje splono sprejete pojasnitve.
KEY WORDS Pre-pottery Neolithic; Upper Mesopotamia; monumental sanctuaries; anthropomor-
phic pillars; deities
DOI> 10.4312\dp.37.21
Klaus Schmidt
240
main features are T-shaped monolithic pil-
lars, each weighing several tons. They were
erected to form large circular enclosures,
at the centre of which a pair of these pillars
towers over all (Fig. 2). The diameters of
the circles are between 10 and 20 metres,
and the ten to twelve pillars of the circle
are connected by walls of quarry stone (Fig.
3). The enclosures have been designated A,
B, C and D in a range according to the date
of their discovery in the first years of the
excavations. Later, enclosures E, F and G
were added, but they do not show the mo-
numentality of the other four, and these la-
ter enclosures are not discussed fully in this
paper.
The age of layer III and the monumental enclosures
is impressive: they can be dated to the 10
th
millen-
nium calBC, a time when people all over the world
were still living as hunter-gatherers, except in the re-
gion of the Fertile Crescent of the Near East, where
people had started to settle in permanent villages
and begin activities which led to the domestication
of plants and animals. And there is no question that
the site of Göbekli Tepe was not a mundane settle-
ment of the period, but a site belonging to the religi-
ous sphere, a sacred area, since the excavation has
revealed no residential buildings. Göbekli Tepe seems
to have been a regional centre where communities
met to engage in complex rites.
The younger layer of Göbekli Tepe has been dated
to the 9
th
millennium calBC. It has been demonstra-
ted that some domesticated plants and animals were
already in use during this millennium, and that ela-
borate settlements had been built, such as Nevalı
Çori, which lies 50 kilometres to the north, a site
now submerged by the flooding of the Atatürk Dam
Lake in 1992 (Hauptmann 1991/1992; 1993). The
excavation caused a sensation in the 1980s, as it
opened for the first time a new window on a previ-
ously unexpected world of Stone Age culture. The
type of dwelling excavated at Nevalı Çori, with a li-
ving space in front and a rectangular area behind
for storing provisions may be considered the proto-
Fig. 1. The site of Göbekli Tepe seen from the southeast in
2009 (foto Klaus Schmidt, DAI).
Fig. 2. Göbekli Tepe, schematic map of the main excavation area at the southern slope and the western
hilltop, the stratigraphic position of the structures mapped in blue (“layer II/III”) is not determined finally.
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
241
type of the Anatolian farm house that can still be
found today. Even then, the houses were up to 6 me-
tres wide and 18 metres long.
But Göbekli Tepe differs from Nevalı Çori; layer II
is not a settlement, but it contains a series of sanctu-
aries. However, the large circular structures of layer
III disappeared, to be replaced by small rectangu-
lar rooms (Fig. 2). But the main feature of the monu-
mental enclosures, the T-shaped pillars, survived.
Therefore, most of the buildings of layer II again can
be identified as sanctuaries. But it was not only the
scale of the architecture that was reduced the
numbers and size of the pillars are much smaller
now. The average height of the pillars in layer III
is 3.5m, while in layer II, it is only about 1.5m.
The pillars are made from a very hard and quite cry-
stalline limestone. They are the most durable objects
at the site. To produce monoliths with a length of
4 to 5, sometimes even 7m, Neolithic people needed
limestone of supreme quality, which can not be
found everywhere. This is one reason the sanctua-
ries were erected on the Göbekli Tepe plateau, as it
consists of limestone of such quality.
1
The pillars are
usually connected by the walls which define the in-
ner and outer spaces of the enclosures. The walls
are built mainly from ashlar stones, sometimes in-
cluding spoliae – fragments of pillars and other sha-
ped stones common at the site in secondary use
as wall stones. There is a 2cm thick layer of clay
mortar between the stones. The mortar causes a se-
rious problem for the conservation of the site. Rain-
water is disastrous for it, as the soft clay is easily
washed out by water. The same problem exists with
aeolian forces, wind erosion again is a big problem.
And there is a third danger: insects like to build nests
in the spaces between the stones, as the clay mortar
is very soft and holes are dug easily. The mortar
may originally have been tempered, but the preser-
vation conditions for any organic remains are very
bad, with the exception of bones, which exist in huge
amounts. But there are almost no other organic
remains, as the use of fire at the site has not been
Fig. 3. The main excavation area at the southern slope, spring 2010; in the foreground, enclosure D, fol-
lowed by enclosures C, B and A (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
1 Some years ago, when the construction of the new highway from Gaziantep to Mardin (the highway runs not far from Göbekli
Tepe in the valleys west and south of the site) was planned, the engineers wanted to use the limestone of the Göbekli Tepe pla-
teau to produce gravel, as such a hard limestone does not exist elsewhere in the region. The company started coring activity, but
it was possible to stop it soon, fortunately.
Klaus Schmidt
242
noted (contact with fire would help to preserve some
of the organic materials by carbonisation, but almost
no carbonised material has been found).
It has been a great advantage to archaeology that,
after a period of unknown duration, the sanctuaries
of the older layer at Göbekli Tepe were intentional-
ly and rapidly buried, a process which seems to have
been a certain part of their use from the beginning.
The old surfaces that can be observed in the exca-
vations and the processes that occurred in the sed-
iment have been subjected to pedological analyses,
allowing the filling to be dated. Moreover, the cir-
cumstances in which the structure was filled are a
matter for speculation: was the act of filling part of
some ritual? Was this ritual carried out repeatedly?
The origin of the filling material is unknown. The
provenance of the material is not unimportant, as
some 500 cubic metres of debris would be required
to backfill enclosure D alone. Moreover, the mate-
rial is not sterile soil. It consists mainly of chips and
pieces of limestone – usually smaller than fist-size
and many artefacts, mainly of flint, but also fragments
of stone vessels, grind stones and other ground stone
tools. Beside the stone artefacts, there are many ani-
mal bones, mostly broken into small pieces as is
usual for waste. The bones are primarily of gazelle,
but in terms of weight of meat, wild cattle is the
most important species. Other species of importance
are red deer, onager, wild pig, and wild caprovids
(Peters, Schmidt 2004).
There are no domesticated animals or plants. The
enclosures date to the period of transition from hun-
Fig. 5. T-shaped pillar from Nevalı Çori (after
Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.80).
Fig. 6. Göbekli Tepe 2006, pillar 18 in enclosure D
(foto Berthold Steinhilber).
Fig. 4. Enclosure D seen from the west in autumn
2009 during preparation work for the consolida-
tion of the upright stand of the central pillars (foto
Klaus Schmidt, DAI).
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
243
ter-gatherer to farmer societies during the 10
th
and
9
th
millennia in the Near East.
It should be mentioned that the bone material from
the backfilling includes some human bones. Their
appearance is similar to the animal bones they
were broken into small pieces; several have cut
marks; and it appears that they were treated in a si-
milar way to the animal bones. As the study of these
finds (by Julia Gresky, DAI Berlin) is in progress, no
final results can be given here. While cannibalism
as an explanation of the appearance of the bones
within the remains of hunted animals can be not ex-
cluded, it seems most probable that these bones at-
test to the special treatment of the human body af-
ter death, a custom known from many PPN sites in
the Near East. And it seems probable that the pres-
ence of human bones in the filling material should
strengthen the hypothesis that there are primary bu-
rials somewhere at Göbekli Tepe, burials which were
opened after some time for a continuation of very
specific rituals performed with the dead.
In recent excavation seasons, surprisingly new disco-
veries were made in layer III. The floor level was re-
ached in enclosure C and D, which has been under
excavation for over ten years. A terrazzo floor was
predicted, as such a floor had been excavated in
enclosure B. But in both enclosures the floor was na-
tural bedrock, carefully smoothed. As in enclosure
E – the so-called ‘Felsentempel’ located outside the
mound at the western plateau two pedestals,
where a central pair of T-shaped pillars were erect-
ed, were cut out of the bedrock in the centre of both
enclosures C and D. But unlike enclosure E, where
no pillars or walls survived the millennia, or enclo-
sure C, where the central pillars were destroyed in
antiquity, both central pillars in enclosure D survi-
ved with no damage, and with a breathtaking height
of 5.5m, having stood in situ for more than 11 000
years. There is only a small problem regarding their
stability, as slope pressure has caused the pillars to
shift into a slightly oblique position. Without sup-
port or much better, without the re-erection of
both pillars into a vertical and stable position both
would fall down after the removal of the surroun-
ding sediment which covered the enclosure comple-
tely before excavation, being the result of the back-
filling process during the PPN period. The stabilisa-
tion of both pillars – work began in 2009 – was one
Fig. 7. Pillar 31, the western central pillar of enclo-
sure D, after being raised into an upright position
in spring 2010, height 5.3m (foto Klaus Schmidt,
DAI).
Fig. 8. Pillar 18, the eastern central pillar of enclo-
sure D, after being raised into an upright position
in spring 2010, height 5.4m (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
Klaus Schmidt
244
of the main goals of the 2010 spring season, a task
which has been completed successfully in splendid
fashion (Fig. 4). At this point, it must be mentioned
that the general goal of the excavations is not to re-
construct Neolithic architecture, but to expose seve-
ral of the important monuments, to understand their
meaning, to keep them in their original find spots,
and to protect them from weather and other de-
structive forces. Only in some exceptions can pillars
or other parts of the architecture not remain in their
original positions, e.g. the pillars in enclosure D,
which had to be re-erected to enable excavations to
continue there.
The T-shaped pillars
The T-form of the pillars can easily be interpreted as
anthropomorphic, as some of the pillars appear to
have arms and hands, undoubtedly human; they are,
in other words, stone statues of human-like beings
(Schmidt 2006.Fig. 43a). The head is represented
by the cross on the pillars, an interpretation suppor-
ted by a pillar from Nevalı Çori, where a longer face
section and a shorter back of the head are observa-
ble, corresponding to the natural proportions of the
human head (Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.80) (Fig.
5). Differentiation of the sexes was evidently not in-
tended. It is also clear that the minimalist form of
representation was intentional, because other stat-
ues and reliefs found at the site offer sufficient proof
of the artists’ ability to produce naturalist works.
Very often, a specific attribute is depicted on the pil-
lars: two bands in flat relief are visible on the front
of the shafts, somewhat resembling a stole and it is
highly probable that this motif actually refers to a
specific garment. It is possible that only certain per-
sons were permitted to wear the stole, being an im-
portant element of a ritual robe. Perhaps the stone
buttons, which occur in large numbers only at Göbe-
kli Tepe (Schmidt 2005.Fig. 6), are from a robe of
this type.
An important role must also have been ascribed to
the pairs of pillars at the centre of each space which
tower over the other pillars. It seems probable that
they depict twins, because twins, or at least pairs of
brothers or sisters, are a common theme in mythol-
ogy (Lévi-Strauss 1991; Meixner 1995). The expla-
nation that they may simply represent the classic
duality of man and woman can be excluded after a
recent discovery in enclosure D. The central pair of
pillars (pillars 18 and 31) and their flat reliefs de-
picting arms have been visible for several years
(Schmidt 2006.Figs. 73–75, 79–81). The western pil-
lar is wearing a necklace in the form of a bucranium,
the eastern one a necklace in the shape of a cres-
cent, a disc and a motif of two antithetical elements
whose meaning is not understood. This eastern pil-
lar also holds a fox in the crook of its elbow (Fig. 6).
In the 2009 season, the previously hidden lower
parts of the pillars’ shafts were excavated (Fig. 7).
Fig. 9. The decorated belt of pillar 18 seen from the
southwest in spring 2010 (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
Fig. 10. Pillar 43 in enclosure D (foto Berthold
Steinhilber).
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
245
It was no surprise when hands and fingers soon be-
came visible, but a few hours later a sensational dis-
covery was made: both pillars were wearing belts
depicted in flat relief just below the hands. A belt
buckle is visible in both cases, and on the eastern
pillar, there are decorations on the belt in the form
of H- and C-shaped figures (Fig. 9). However, there
is an even more interesting feature: a loincloth cove-
ring the genital region hangs from each of the belts
(Fig. 8) – the hind legs and tail of what appear to be
fox pelts are visible. The loincloth covers the genital
region, so the sex of the two individuals is unclear,
but since the several clay figurines with belts found
at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic site at Nevalı Çori are all
male (Morsch 2002.148, Pl.
3, 3–4.6), it seems highly pro-
bable that the pair of statues
in enclosure D are also male.
The flat reliefs on the T-
shaped pillars
Often, the pillars are elusively
decorated with reliefs. The
motifs often depict animals,
but there are some abstract
symbols, mainly in the form
of the letter H, both in its
original position or rotated
through 90°. Other symbols
are crescents, discs and anti-
thetic motifs, and there are
two depictions of humans.
The first was found on a pil-
lar in enclosure D is presumed
to be an ithyphallic, headless
man. The second is on a pil-
lar in enclosure F. A standing person with
a long neck and head is depicted. Above
the person, there is a small dog, recogni-
sable by its tail bent over the back.
However, the reliefs adorning many of the
monumental pillars depict a wide range of
wild animals such as predatory cats, bulls,
wild boar, foxes, ducks, cranes, gazelles,
wild asses, snakes, spiders and scorpions
(Fig. 10). In the spring season of 2010,
north of pillar 18, in the back fill material
of enclosure D, a decorated pillar fragment
was discovered. The object was probably
part of the missing twelfth pillar of the en-
closure, as there is a gap between pillars 43
and 30 in the northern section of the en-
closure (comp. Fig. 2). The depiction shows a vulture
and a species as yet unknown among the images at
Göbekli Tepe – the long, coarse ridge of mane along
the length of the back of the animal indicates that
it is a hyena (Fig. 11).
These reliefs open a view of a new and unique pic-
torial language not known before whose interpre-
tation is a matter of important scientific debate. So
far as can be seen, the mammals depicted are male.
It remains a mystery whether the relief images were
attributes of the pillars, or whether they were part
of a mythological cycle. They may have had a prote-
ctive aspect, serving as guards, or perhaps more
Fig. 11. Fragment of a decorated pillar found in the debris of
enclosure D, north of pillar 18 (foto Klaus Schmidt, DAI).
Fig. 12. Nevalı Çori, sculpture of a bird with a human face (after
Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.Kat.-Nr. 98).
Klaus Schmidt
246
probably – are part of a horrific scenario somewhat
like Dante’s ‘Inferno’.
The animal reliefs are quite naturalistic and corre-
spond to the fauna of the period. However, the ani-
mals depicted need not necessarily have played a
special role in peoples’ everyday lives – as game, for
example. They were rather part of a mythological
world which we have already encountered in cave
painting. The important thing is that fabulous or
mythical creatures, such as centaurs or the sphinx,
winged bulls or horses, do not yet occur in the ico-
nography and therefore in the mythology of pre-
historic times. These creatures must be recognised
as creations of higher cultures which arose later. In
this context, it has to be mentioned that there is the
exception of anthropomorphic beings with animal
heads, a group which can be summarised under the
term ‘goat-demon’, creatures already known from
Upper Palaeolithic art (Schmidt 2001), but so far
not seen at Göbekli Tepe. Another exception is the
so-called ‘bird-man’, a sculpture excavated in Neva-
Çori whose meaning is unclear (Hauptmann,
Schmidt 2007.70 Kat.-Nr. 98) (Fig. 12).
At Göbekli Tepe, distinctly feminine motifs are lac-
king from both the animal and human images. There
is a single exception – a naked woman engraved on
a stone slab placed between the so-called lions’ pil-
lars (Schmidt 2006.235–237, Fig. 104) (Fig. 13). But
it seems clear that this depiction is not part of the
original decoration, but more probably belongs to a
group of engravings which can be classified as graf-
fiti (comp. pillar 10: Schmidt 2000.23, Fig. 10b). In
Nevalı Çori, in contrast, of the clay figurines that
have been found nowhere else in such abundance
– 700 in number – over 90% are anthropomorphic
objects, and male and female figures occur in equal
numbers (Morsch 2002). The complete absence of
clay figurines at Göbekli Tepe is most remarkable.
This surely reflects the different functions of the ri-
tual buildings at each location: while the buildings
of Göbekli Tepe have a possible connection with bu-
rial customs, at Nevalı Çori, it is possible to examine
a village settlement and everyday life. The use of
clay as the material for the male and female figures
found here is not insignificant. The smaller stone fi-
gures that were also discovered exhibit a completely
different and much richer iconographic repertoire
which repeats the stock of motifs associated with the
large stone sculptures and reliefs at Göbekli Tepe.
Non-stylized life-size human heads and statues
guardians of the T-shapes?
It is now clear that the T-shaped pillars have an an-
thropomorphic identity. But who are they? As their
faces were never depicted, they seem to be imperso-
Fig. 13. Göbekli Tepe, engraving of a female per-
son from layer II (foto Dieter Johannes, DAI).
Fig. 14. The Urfa statue (foto Irmgard Wagner,
DAI).
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
247
nal supernatural beings from another world, beings
gathered at Göbekli Tepe for certain, so far unknown,
purposes. Their identity is obviously different from
that of the several life-size and more or less natu-
ralistically depicted human heads found at Göbekli
Tepe. On the basis of the one completely preserved
limestone statue found at Urfa, not Göbekli Tepe,
which is male and dates to the Early Neolithic, it
seems that the limestone heads are most probably
statues of male personages (Bucak, Schmidt 2003;
Schmidt 2006.Fig. 93) (Fig. 14). This completely
preserved,1.80m tall limestone sculpture was dis-
covered in the 1990s in the old town north of the
Balikligöl, where an important Islamic sanctuary is
located. According to a local tradition, the prophet
Abraham was born in a cave near the springs and
lakes nearby. Several observations attest to a PPNA
site north of the springs (Çelik 2000) which was
destroyed by immense construction works in the
1990s or sealed by the old town of Urfa in medieval
times. Fortunately, at least the statue survived; it is
a find whose provenance from the PPNA site of Bali-
kligöl mentioned above has a very high probability.
The statue has a face: the eyes are deep holes and
black obsidian blade segments struck from bidirec-
tional cores. It may be noteworthy that no mouth
was depicted. The statue seems to be naked, with
the exception of a V-shaped necklace. It is not enti-
rely clear, but it seems that the hands are holding
the phallus. Legs are not depicted. Below the body
is a conical tap, which easily allows the setting of the
statue in the ground, in a way quite similar to that
of the Early Dynastic Foundation figurines of ancient
Mesopotamia deposited in the corners of sacred buil-
dings (Rashid 1983).
The so-called ‘skinhead’ discovered at Nevalı Çori
(Hauptmann 1991/1992.Fig. 23) (Fig. 15), a life-
size human head with a snake atop recalling the
Egyptian Uraeus snake which protects the pharaoh,
seems to belong to a similar statue. Unfortunately,
the face was deliberately destroyed some time in the
Neolithic. The remaining part of the head was used
as spolia in the northern wall of the terrazzo build-
ing, where T-shaped pillars were discovered in the
1980s (for the first time in the world). The snake
clearly underlines the importance of the person, but
as the skinhead was found in the wall of the terraz-
zo building, with its T-shaped pillars, it seems most
probable that the status of the person depicted by
the sculpture is much below that of the T-shaped pil-
lar-statues.
Fig. 15. The ‘skin head’ from Nevalı Çori (after
Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.Kat.-Nr. 96).
Fig. 16. The ‘totem pole’ from Nevalı Çori (after
Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.Kat.-Nr. 101).
Klaus Schmidt
248
An answer to the question ‘Who are the T-Shapes?’
may be a little easier when these non-stylized statues
are taken into account. The more or less naturalisti-
cally depicted statues seem to represent members of
our world, powerful and important, but inferior to
the T-Shapes, who remain in mysterious, faceless
anonymity. The T-Shapes seem to belong to the other
world; the non-stylized statues seem to have the role
of guardians of the sacred sphere.
There are two other, nearly life-size limestone scul-
ptures of human heads at Nevalı Çori. They belong
to composite motifs reminiscent of the totem-poles
of the Native Americans of the northwest coast. One
head is placed in front of a large bird, probably a
vulture (Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.68 Kat.-Nr. 95),
which seems to be holding the head in its claws. Un-
fortunately, the lower and upper parts of this sculp-
ture are not preserved. Therefore, the preserved part
of the sculpture could be only the ‘medial’ part of a
possibly much larger composite statue which stres-
sing comparisons with totem poles again original-
ly included many other motifs.
A similar situation is visible on a second object: ano-
ther large bird (again, probably a vulture, but the
head is missing) is clasping in its claws two human
heads (Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.67 Kat.-Nr. 101)
(Figs. 16 and 17). Unfortunately, this fascinating
sculpture was destroyed some time in the PPN, and
only some pieces survived, buried in the north-east-
ern bench of the terrazzo building, where they were
discovered when the bench was removed at the end
of the excavations. But the overwhelming majority
of the elements of the sculpture – which again was
originally a little similar to a totem pole made of
limestone – are lost. A recently discovered sculpture
from Göbekli Tepe (Fig. 18), which has to be analy-
sed in detail in the near future, may help us to un-
derstand better the meaning of these object.
These sculptures are mentioned here to demonstra-
te that, clearly, not all life-size human heads belong
to statues of guardians. There are more variants of
art objects where three-dimensional sculptured hu-
man heads would have been used. From Göbekli
Tepe, one example fits into the group bird/ animal
and human head (Schmidt 1997/98.Fig. 9, Nr. A10).
This motif is probably is related to the well-attested
skull cult of PPN cultures.
Four human heads are known from Göbekli Tepe;
they probably belong to sculptures similar to the
Fig. 17. Tentative reconstruction of the ‘totem
pole’ from Nevalı Çori (drawing Klaus Schmidt).
Fig. 18. A ‘totem pole’ from Göbekli Tepe, excava-
ted in October 2010 (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
249
Urfa statue. The first was discovered in 1998 in the
filling debris of a building complex which was erec-
ted in superposition to enclosure A (Schmidt 1999.
Pl. 2,1–2, Kat.-Nr. A5). Again, the mouth is not de-
picted. There are two other pieces, which are not
well preserved (Kat.-Nr. A32, 50). The fourth life-
size human head was discovered at Göbekli Tepe in
spring 2010 in the filling debris directly east of pil-
lar 31, the western central pillar of enclosure D (Fig.
19). It is broken at the neck, and there is damage
around the mouth, but the rest of the head is preser-
ved quite well. Its find spot can be understood as an
offering of the head during the filling process of en-
closure D. The life-size human heads from sites in
the Urfa region are listed in Table 1.
A medium-size statue found in 2008 at Göbekli Tepe
could represent a further category of statues (Fig.
20), particularly with regard to its less than life-size
dimensions and the body being reminiscent of the
Beterstatuettenof the New Sumerian period in Lo-
wer Mesoptamia (Braun-Holzinger 1977). We are
far from a final assignment of these objects, but the
appearance of this statue the face looking slightly
upwards at someone much more powerful, the
hands in front of the body, but without presenting
the male genitals, which remain invisible – all these
elements seem to corroborate that this statue shares
its main characteristics with the New Sumerian Be-
terstatuetten’.
The north-western hilltop
In the 2009 campaign, a second excavation field was
opened on the north-western hilltop of the mound.
As expected, architecture typical of layer II, with
small rectangular rooms and small T-shaped pillars
appeared in most of the trenches. A flat relief is visi-
ble on the surface of one of these monoliths, easily
identified as the upper arm of the ’pillar’, as the de-
piction of arms is a very common attribute in layer
II, underlining the anthropomorphic meaning of
these objects.
But the layer II structures did not cover the eastern
row of the new trenches. Under surface layer I – a
layer characterized by dark humous sediments pro-
duced by farming on the site – a brownish-grey se-
diment appeared. It included a lot of limestone gra-
vel, but almost no stones larger than fist size. Such
sediment is typical of the filling debris of the enclo-
sures of layer III. Expectations that a structure of La-
yer III lay below the filling were soon justified, as
the upper part of a megalithic pillar was found, to
all appearances in situ. There is no question that
this pillar is part of a so far unknown enclosure that
had not been detected by geophysical investigations
in previous seasons (Schmidt 2009b). What is not
clear is the extent and orientation of the new struc-
ture.
Fig. 19. Göbekli Tepe, life-size human head, lime-
stone, height 23cm (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
Fig. 20. Göbekli Tepe, sculpture of a man with
beard, limestone, height 66cm (foto Dieter Johan-
nes, DAI).
Klaus Schmidt
250
The discovery of a so far unknown mega-
lithic enclosure in the new excavation areas
on the north-western hilltop was in fact not
really a surprise, as it is known that geo-
physical methods do not map structures bu-
ried deep below the surface. The single mo-
numental pillar found in this area was near-
ly 1m below the surface. Other pillars which
can be expected to belong to the structure
have not been discovered, which obviously
can be explained by the suggestion that the
missing pillars and walls are buried quite
deeply. Therefore, they remained invisible
in the geophysical record.
But another find from these areas is unique
so far and very exciting. It belongs to the group of
so-called porthole-stones. All the objects in this cate-
gory share general characteristics. One face of the
stones, the face we may call the lower face, is always
completely plain, while on the upper face there is
a high and broad collar around a central, usually re-
ctangular hole. In appearance, these objects some-
what resemble an oversized hat with a broad brim;
the difference to real hats being that in the centre of
the object there is a large rectangular hole, which
could originally have been used to crawl through
the stone (Fig. 21).
Similar objects are well known e.g. from megalithic
barrows of Atlantic Europe. Stone slabs with a cen-
tral hole were placed in several barrows vertically
so that the stones defined the entrance leading into
the darkness of the grave (e.g. Reden 1978.215,
Fig. 85’Los Millares’). At Göbekli Tepe, quite similar
stones exist in monumental dimensions; one lying
on the northern slope of the southeast plateau is
over 3m in length (Schmidt 2009a. 216). But most
are of medium size, and some are en miniature,
which can only be understood as their being models
of the larger ones that actually allow a person to
crawl through the porthole.
The porthole stones of Göbekli Tepe were known
from the beginning of the investigations. A quite
large example was observed during the author’s first
visit to the site in 1994. The stone, broken in seve-
ral pieces, but nearly complete, was visible in a stone
heap in the depression between the north-western
and south-western hilltop. Unfortunately, however,
the object disappeared during the ensuing years, as
the site was affected by stone robbery (for house
foundations) until the excavations of the site were
fully established in 1996. Smaller fragments of port-
Fig. 21. Porthole stone from enclosure B (foto Irmgard Wag-
ner, DAI).
Probably guardians
“Urfa statue” (Bucak, Schmidt 2003< Fig. 14) broken, but completely preserved life-size statue
Nevalı Çori, “skinhead”
only head, no face preserved
(Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.70 Kat.-Nr. 96< Fig. 15)
Göbekli Tepe, head no. A5 (Schmidt 1999.Pl. 2,1–2) face completely preserved
Göbekli Tepe, head no. A32 (unpublished) no face preserved
Göbekli Tepe, head no. A50 (unpublished) bad preservation
Göbekli Tepe, head no. A69 (unpublished) bad preservation
Göbekli Tepe, head no. A75 (Fig. 19) nearly completely preserved
Probably related to skull cult
Nevalı Çori, bird and one human head
(Hauptmann, Schmidt 2007.68 Kat.-Nr. 95)
only head, lower part of face destroyed
Nevalı Çori, bird and two human heads (Hauptmann, Head 1, nearly completely preserved
Schmidt 2007.67 Kat.-Nr. 101, Figs. 16 and 17)Head 2, no face preserved
Göbekli Tepe, animal and human head, no. A10
(Schmidt 1997\98.Fig. 9)
lower part of face destroyed
Tab. 1. Life-size human limestone heads and statues from PPN sites in the Urfa region
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
251
hole stones were found scattered all over the mound
during the survey of 1995 (Beile-Bohn et al. 1998.
45–47, Fig. 19 ’Pfeilerbasis’). These objects were
called ’portable pillar base’ at that time because of
the similarity observed between these objects and
the two pedestals of the so- called ‘rock temple’, a
structure cut out of the natural bedrock, now num-
bered as enclosure E (Schmidt 2006. Fig. 35). The
pedestals have an oval tub-shaped hole in the mid-
dle of the object. Already in the first year of inves-
tigations, 1995, an explanation was given for them,
which has now been confirmed: they were identified
as the bases of the (now lost) central pillars of the
rock temple. The function of the holes was recon-
structed such that the lower part of the pillars was
set in and fixed there. During the excavations of en-
closure C in 2008 and enclosure D in 2009, both
pairs of central pillars were found still in situ. Their
bases are placed exactly in the way as the rock pe-
destals, as supposed in 1995 in the case of enclosure
E (Fig. 22).
The more or less close similarity between the rock
pedestals and the objects now called porthole stones
was the reason for the original designation ’porta-
ble pillar bases’, but during the sixteen years of ex-
cavations many fragments of such stones have been
discovered in both layers II and III, although no situ-
ation was ever found confirming the suggestion that
the feet of the pillars were fixed by such portable
stone frames. A medium-size stone of this group, for
example, was found in the centre of enclosure B, im-
mediately in front of the central pillars (Schmidt
2006.Fig. 34) (Figs. 20 and 22). Its function was ob-
viously that of a porthole stone; it is only unclear if
the stone was placed vertically in the enclosure wall
or horizontally in the middle of the roof – if a roof
existed, this being an unanswered question.
Returning to the new trenches on the north-western
hilltop: a megalithic porthole stone was discovered
south of the single monumental pillar in the new
trenches (Fig. 24). The stone appeared in an oblique
position on top of debris which should belong to
layer III, given its composition of mainly stones smal-
ler than fist size, with quantities of earth or clay be-
tween. The object is of similar monumental dimen-
sions to the porthole-stone on the southeast plateau
mentioned above. The excavated stone has lost some
parts of its rim, but the remaining piece, nearly 3 x
3m, is unbroken. What never was observable on the
(more or less complete or fragmented) porthole
stones excavated so far at Göbekli Tepe can now be
seen: the stone has two portholes, two adjacent re-
Fig. 22. Enclosure C with the two central pillars set on pedestals cut out of bedrock, autumn 2008 (foto
Klaus Schmidt, DAI).
Klaus Schmidt
252
ctangular openings. But this so far unique double
porthole is not the only astonishing feature. On the
southern rim is a flat relief of a very large snake. On
the western rim there are high reliefs of three ani-
mals. In a direction from south to north, a bull, a
billy-goat and a predator showing its teeth are posi-
tioned. A high relief with a very similar animal was
found in the same season in the northern profile of
a trench in the west of enclosure D (Fig. 25). Again,
the tail of the beast is curved at its back. The repe-
tition of the motif underlines the observation that
there was a fixed canon of depictions which was un-
veiled step by step and year by year.
At present, it is not possible to present an
interpretation of the shape, with its two en-
trances and the decoration of the porthole
stone. It is not clear if the porthole stone is
just lying in the debris, separate from other
structures, or if it belongs to an architectu-
ral context, like the porthole stone found in
enclosure B ten years ago. But we can rec-
ognize that pillars were not the only ob-
jects to which high reliefs were added, as
seen in the case of the predator sitting on
the stomach of pillar 27, a masterpiece of
stonemasonry (Schmidt 2008c.Fig. 2g). Se-
veral high reliefs on limestone slabs of un-
known size and shape now seem to have
originally been parts of porthole-stones, e.g. the pre-
dator found atop the wall east of pillar 36 in enclo-
sure C (Schmidt 2006.151–156, Figs. 63–64 No. A35).
It is not the first time that animals have been found
depicted on the rim of a porthole stone at Göbekli
Tepe. There are several fragments with reliefs, but
the motifs are quite small, or the preservation of the
surfaces was so poor that there remained doubts as
to whether a relief was present; it is possible that
the form in question was not an image, but an irre-
gularity in the stone.
Fig. 24. Huge porthole-stone in situ in new excavation area
on the north-western hilltop of the mound, depicted scale
0.5m (foto Oliver Dietrich, DAI).
Fig. 23. Enclosure B and its portholestone in centre (foto Irmgard Wagner, DAI).
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
253
At the so-called ‘lions gate’ at the entrance
of the ‘Dromos’, a structure south of enclo-
sure C which has not been completely ex-
cavated (Schmidt 2006.153–157, Fig. 66–
67), a second type of porthole stone with-
out a collar around the hole has been dis-
covered. Placed vertically at the entrance
was a limestone slab with a flat relief of a
wild boar below the porthole. The animal
is depicted upside down, lying on its back,
legs stretched away from the body (Fig.
26). While there remain some doubts as to
whether the stone was originally made just
for this purpose – or used in its current po-
sition in a secondary function its seems
most probable that the port stone and its
depiction symbolizing the broader sphere of
death, which is entered by crawling through
the hole. However, the further investiga-
tions and new finds will clarify this ques-
tion.
Recent discoveries provide overwhelming evidence
that a porthole stone could be decorated not only in
flat relief, but also with three-dimensional sculpture.
Several types of worked stone were used for art, T-
shaped pillars, both variants of porthole stone, with
and without collars, kidney-shaped stone slabs – usu-
ally covering stone benches – and large stone rings
of unknown function (Schmidt 2006.Fig. 23) remi-
niscent of the heavy stone rings used by ancient
Meso-Americans in ball games (e.g. Alegria 1994).
The megalithic objects and types of decoration are
listed in Table 2.
Conclusion
The transitional period of the late Pleisto-
cene to the early Holocene in south-western
Asia saw the emergence of the first large,
permanently settled communities. Perma-
nent settlements dating to 12 000–10 000
BP currently under excavation are produ-
cing unexpected monumentality and extra-
ordinarily rich symbolism that challenges
our ability to interpret. Especially in Upper
Mesopotamia, in the centre of the so-called
Fertile Crescent, large sites with exciting
finds have been unearthed in recent years.
The results of these recent and ongoing ex-
cavations have not turned our picture of
world history upside down, but they are
adding a splendid and colourful new chap-
ter between the period of the hunters and
gatherers of the Ice Age and the new world of the
food producing cultures of the Neolithic period
the extent of which had not been predicted some
years ago a chapter which is enlarged year by year
by the ongoing excavations at PPN sites in the Le-
vant and Upper Mesopotamia.
The evolution of modern humanity involved a funda-
mental change from small-scale, mobile hunter-gathe-
rer bands to large, permanently co-resident commu-
nities. Following the ideas of Trevor Watkins, to
whom I am grateful for long discussions and much
inspiration on this subject, we observe that Jacques
Cauvin’s suggestions were correct (Cauvin 1997):
the factor that allowed the formation of large, per-
manent communities was the facility to use symbo-
lic culture, a kind of pre-literate capacity for produ-
Fig. 25. High relief of a predator on a stone slab, probably
part of the rim of a porthole-stone, from the bulk west of en-
closure D, length 53cm (foto Nico Becker, DAI).
Fig. 26. Fragmented portholestone with the relief of a boar
depicted side down; the stone slab is defining the entrance
into the “Dromos” south of enclosure C.
Klaus Schmidt
254
cing and ‘reading’ symbolic material culture, that
enabled communities to formulate their shared iden-
tities, and their cosmos (Watkins 2010a–b). There
has been much progress in the investigation of the
earliest signs of symbolic behaviours (from 100 000
years ago), followed by the earliest figural repre-
sentations in European Upper Palaeolithic art from
30 000 years ago (Bosinski 1987). Now, the 12 000
year old sites in Upper Mesopotamia make us believe
that something new and very important was hap-
pening. We are finding our way back to a quite diffu-
sionistic point of view, when we observe the suc-
cess of people in possession of the ‘Neolithic pack-
age’, which first occurred in its complete form in the
Northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia, between
the Upper Euphrates and the Upper Tigris. From
these regions, the new way of life was disseminated
across the Old World from the 9
th
millennium calBC
onwards, reaching Europe and Africa in the late 7
th
millennium (for north-western Africa, especially
Egypt, comp. Shirai 2010).
Göbekli Tepe opens a new perspective on the Early
Neolithic: specialisation on particular tasks must
have been possible in order for members of the com-
munity to be able to erect these monuments and de-
corate them so elaborately. We can assume that
much older traces and constructions have yet to be
found at Göbekli Tepe, and it can be guessed that
the place has a history stretching back over several
thousand of years to the Old Stone Age. The people
must also have had a highly complicated mythology,
including a capacity for abstraction (Morenz, Schmidt
2009). The question of who is being represented by
the highly stylized T-shaped pillars remains open, as
we can not say with certitude if concepts of god exi-
sted at this time. So the general function of the en-
closures remains mysterious; but it is clear that the
pillar statues in the centre of these enclosures repre-
sented very powerful beings. If gods existed in the
minds of Early Neolithic people, there is an over-
whelming probability that the T-shape is the first
know monumental depiction of gods.
Further investigations will certainly provide us with
more detailed information. But to understand the
new finds, archaeologists need to work closely with
specialists in comparative religion, architectural and
art theory, cognitive and evolutionary psychology,
sociologists using social network theory, and others.
It is the complex story of the earliest large, settled
communities, their extensive networking, and their
communal understanding of their world, perhaps
even the first organized religions and their symbolic
representations of the cosmos.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Ministry
of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey for
the kind permission to excavate at the important site
of Göbekli Tepe. The project is funded by the German
Archaeological Institute (DAI), the German Research
Foundation (DFG) and supported by the Theodor Wie-
gand-Gesellschaft and by ArchaeNova e.V. Heidelberg.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
engraving
flat high
relief relief
T-shaped pillars XXXXX
Porthole-stones
with collar on face
XXXX
Porthole-stone without collar X
Large, often kidney-shaped
stone slabs covering XX
stone-benches
Large stone rings of
unknown function
X
Tab. 2. Megalithic objects decorated with engrav-
ings, flat relief and high relief.
Göbekli Tepe the Stone Age Sanctuaries. New results of ongoing excavations with a special focus on sculptures and high reliefs
255
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... Majority of the comments concentrated around the question of why such monumental structures adorned with depictions of fauna were constructed. Unearthing of the "special structures" at the excavations first has led to evaluation of said "special structure" as a "temple" and interpretation as a sacred mountain that hunters in the basin visited temporarily for religious purposes during certain periods (Schmidt, 2005(Schmidt, , 2006(Schmidt, , 2010Dietrich & Notroff, 2015;Dietrich et al., 2012). Although Lee Clare, who later took over the chairmanship of the excavation, highlighted the fact that the initial excavation team considered that such structures were constructed on the basis of "religious zeal" (Clare, 2020), one can actually state that Klaus Schmidt was also influenced significantly by the functionalist approaches (See Notroff et al., 2014). ...
... Accordingly, a different socio-economic context was suggested in the initial assessments on Göbekli Tepe especially led by the excavation team. In this model, the general notion was that Göbekli Tepe was used only as some kind of temple by the hunters and no economic activity was conducted therein other than the feasts held at the times of gathering (Schmidt, 2005(Schmidt, , 2010Dietrich et al., 2012;Dietrich et al., 2019;Notroff et al., 2014). However, at this point, one can state that Göbekli Tepe (including other sites) is a settlement inhabited by the population that makes their living by hunting and gathering ( Clare, 2022( Clare, , Çelik, 2019Güler et al., 2013;Jeunesse, 2020:53, Karul, 2022a). ...
... Perceiving this site as some sort of "temple" until recently led to interpretation of the symbols and structures thereon in terms of functionality accordingly. The excavation team chaired by Klaus Schmidt too substantially adopted Trevor Watkins's conceptualization of "imagined communities" as borrowed from Benedict Anderson (Schmidt, 2010;Notroff et al., 2014;Clare et al., 2019). According to Watkins, the structures and symbols at Göbekli Tepe created a shared memory and ensured that the individuals in the society felt they belonged to a larger imagined community and remained in cohesion. ...
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At the beginning of the Early Holocene Period, the hunter-gatherer groups in the Upper Mesopotamia region left behind complex structures, monumental stone pillars, and various sculptures and Neolithic cultural zone that stand out with rich symbolism accompanying thereto in unprecedented permanent settlements. Excavations were initiated at new Neolithic hills within the scope of the “Taş Tepeler” project in Göbekli Tepe cultural zone, rather known for Göbekli Tepe Neolithic Period site. By whom, how and why this early Neolithic civilization that reverses some basic assumptions on the history of the mankind remains the most important area under discussion. The excavations currently in progress, and the surveys carried out, at the Neolithic sites in this culture region provide comprehensive data on the social and economic foundations that allowed rise of this civilization. In particular, the prevalent and enormous hunting grounds/entrapment areas discovered in this region stand out as the most important economic grounds that allowed this civilization to rise. Moreover, the finds referring to the material exchange and craftsman network conducted in a wide area appears as another socio-economic factor. Despite recognizing the socio-economic foundations, this study shall place the speculative "knowledge" highlighting the psycho-cultural aspect of the people of that era as the main triggering driver regarding rise of this civilization. In conclusion, this study shall endeavour to deduct reasonable interpretation on how Göbekli Tepe culture started to rise on the basis of the sociological perspective that considers knowledge at an autonomous place against other socio-economic conditions.
... German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt started excavations in 1995 with the cooperation of the Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum and the German Archeology Institute (Schmidt, 2010). As a result of research and scientific excavations, it was determined that the structures unearthed in Göbeklitepe were built at least 7000 years earlier than Stonehenge in the south of England and 7500 years earlier than the Egyptian Pyramids (Collins, 2014 (Wolf, 2017). ...
... Contrary to what is known, the Neolithic people have proven their mathematical intelligence at the level of specialized manual skills, architecture, and sculpting. Göbeklitepe has become an important tourist attraction with its increasing popularity in national and international academic and scientific studies (Mann, 2011;Curry, 2016;Schmidt, 2010;Nontanari, 2017;McCarthy, 2018;Collins, 2014;Peters & Schmidt, 2004). Finds from Göbeklitepe excavations are exhibited in Şanlıurfa Archeology and Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum. ...
Article
When the destinations are evaluated within the scope of cultural tourism, the archaeological sites in the destinations have an important place for people curious about the past. Göbeklitepe, one of these archaeological sites, is located near Örencik village of Şanlıurfa Province. As a result of the archaeological excavations made in Göbeklitepe, whose history dates back to 10,000 BC, it has been determined that the archaeological site is the oldest place of worship and settlement in Anatolia so far. As a consequence of the excavations carried out in Göbeklitepe, symbolized by "T"-shaped stones, many more figures such as animal statues, jewelry and flint tools were unearthed. Göbeklitepe, the most exciting and intriguing archaeological discovery of recent times, is a unique sacred place of the Neolithic Period in terms of the location, dimensions, dating, and monumentality of architectural remains and sculptural pieces, and is the largest human-made cult center in the world to date. The purpose of the research carried out in this direction is to determine whether the students of the tourism guidance department have Göbeklitepe destination brand awareness. A questionnaire prepared for this purpose was applied to 383 graduate and undergraduate students of Tourism Guidance in Turkey. It was concluded that the brand awareness of Göbeklitepe differed according to the class level of the students, and the sources of learning about Göbeklitepe differed as their education levels differed. Within the scope of the study, suggestions were made to the instructors and students of the tourism guidance department.
... German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt started excavations in 1995 with the cooperation of the Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum and the German Archeology Institute (Schmidt, 2010). As a result of research and scientific excavations, it was determined that the structures unearthed in Göbeklitepe were built at least 7000 years earlier than Stonehenge in the south of England and 7500 years earlier than the Egyptian Pyramids (Collins, 2014 (Wolf, 2017). ...
... Contrary to what is known, the Neolithic people have proven their mathematical intelligence at the level of specialized manual skills, architecture, and sculpting. Göbeklitepe has become an important tourist attraction with its increasing popularity in national and international academic and scientific studies (Mann, 2011;Curry, 2016;Schmidt, 2010;Nontanari, 2017;McCarthy, 2018;Collins, 2014;Peters & Schmidt, 2004). Finds from Göbeklitepe excavations are exhibited in Şanlıurfa Archeology and Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum. ...
Article
Full-text available
When the destinations are evaluated within the scope of cultural tourism, the archaeological sites in the destinations have an important place for people curious about the past. Göbeklitepe, one of these archaeological sites, is located near Örencik village of Şanlıurfa Province. As a result of the archaeological excavations made in Göbeklitepe, whose history dates back to 10,000 BC, it has been determined that the archaeological site is the oldest place of worship and settlement in Anatolia so far. As a consequence of the excavations carried out in Göbeklitepe, symbolized by "T"-shaped stones, many more figures such as animal statues, jewelry and flint tools were unearthed. Göbeklitepe, the most exciting and intriguing archaeological discovery of recent times, is a unique sacred place of the Neolithic Period in terms of the location, dimensions, dating, and monumentality of architectural remains and sculptural pieces, and is the largest human-made cult center in the world to date. The purpose of the research carried out in this direction is to determine whether the students of the tourism guidance department have Göbeklitepe destination brand awareness. A questionnaire prepared for this purpose was applied to 383 graduate and undergraduate students of Tourism Guidance in Turkey. It was concluded that the brand awareness of Göbeklitepe differed according to the class level of the students, and the sources of learning about Göbeklitepe differed as their education levels differed. Within the scope of the study, suggestions were made to the instructors and students of the tourism guidance department.
... Its history goes back to 4000BC, it has a site believed to be Noah's Tomb, and it has a deep and rich culture with traditional and modern elements; including aspects of gastronomy, languages, religion, and hand crafts. The region also has been gaining more attention with the discovery of nearby Göbekli Tepe [40]; but many unique localities, like the Cizre District, in the neighbourhood of Göbekli Tepe are yet to be discovered by the general tourist population. The Cizre District (Map 1) is a settlement with low socioeconomic characteristics, under-developed in terms of infrastructure and industry, and has a multicultural society. ...
... The presence of the Göbekli Tepe archaeological site, recognized as the world's oldest temple and included the World Heritage List, adds to all. Discovered only recently it is an eye-opener for many reasons; specifically for its 12,000 years history, thus its importance in human history and development [40].Its importance for Cizre is that this popular tourist destination is only 323 km away from the Cizre District and Cizre is one of the beneficiary of extended visits to Göbekli Tepe, thus additional opportunity for Cizre to promote more local features of her own. Specific geographical features of Cizre includes unique nature and river landscapes, streams, mountains, historical and cultural values within the rural areas that have important resources for tourism. ...
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Rural tourism provides an environment where rural people meet different cultures, prevents immigration to already crowded city centers, becomes an element of rural development, creates income diversity and protects the environment as well as natural, cultural and historical aspects of regions. The aim of this study is to examine effects of COVID-19 pandemic on rural tourism-potential and rural planning using Cizre District, Turkey, which incorporates distinct geographical, cultural and historical elements in a rural environment. Data were collected using primary and secondary sources in the region. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis was used to analyze data which shows an increase in migration to rural causing environmental pollution. Positive effects include increase in commerce and housing demand strengthening the economy following normalization. Findings should help to review and improve sustainable planning and policy strategies supporting new economical environment in rural. The development strategies need to focus on rural and urban being partners rather than rivals.
... Karahan Tepe (Çelik, 2011), Taşlı Tepe, Sefer Tepe (Güler et al, 2013), Ayanlar Höyük (Gre Hut) (Çelik, 2017) and Harbetsuvan Tepesi (Çelik, 2019) can be listed as several Neolithic settlements that share symbolic aspects with Göbekli Tepe. Discovery of such cultural world presented new insights into the onset of agricultural activities and transition of human beings to permanent settlements (Schmidt, 2010;Albayrak, 2010;. Before excavations at Göbekli Tepe, it was assumed that emergence of complex settlements occurred in line with the agriculture; however, Göbekli Tepe and other excavations associated thereto have invalidated the link between domestication of animals and plants and establishment of settlements (Hodder, 2021: 108). ...
... Since the initial years of the excavation, an important debate engaged during the studies on the cultural environment of Göbekli Tepe was whether T-shaped special structures were temples/ sanctuaries or domestic structures (Schmidt, 2010;Banning, 2011;Dietrich & Notroff, 2015). ...
Article
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Göbekli Tepe and the Neolithic sites around Urfa, which were identified by surveys, provide rich data for the transition of human beings from hunter-gatherer groups to settled and semi-settled agricultural societies. It is possible to trace most of the institutional foundations of today's societies to this transition period. Social theory, which was heavily influenced by the "Neolithic revolution" paradigm, ignored this transitional period. Sociological thought categorizes societies as hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies starting from the back and moves from the axiom that hunter-gatherer societies are egalitarian and agricultural societies are hierarchical. On the other hand, archaeological studies, while addressing the hierarchical "nature" of Neolithic societies, do not sufficiently benefit from the relatively rich theoretical background of sociology. As a result, it becomes important that the two disciplines work in cooperation. This study will emphasize that egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups lived in a relatively long transition period before class-based stratification originating from the economy, and that they went through a hierarchical social order based on social prestige rather than economic inequality during this transition period. For this, Weber's concept of status, which emphasizes different inequalities, rather than Marx's conceptualization of class division based on the ownership of the means of production, will be taken into consideration. Göbekli Tepe society was a classless society, but a hierarchical society based on status. It is possible to define societies that share Göbekli Tepe culture as "status society" in which individuals and groups have prestigious status on an ideological basis. In this scenario, some people had a more prestigious position than others because they monopolized the mythological narrative that made the world meaningful, causing social differentiation. Unlike the main claim of social conflict analysis, the article will argue that the symbolic world, which expresses the social hierarchy in Göbekli Tepe culture, has important functions that enable the Neolithic lifestyle, besides providing a meaningful explanation of the social world rather than causing an exploitation mechanism against a part of the Neolithic society.
... Nevali Çöri, Aşıklı Höyük, Körtik Tepe and Göbekli Tepe cf. Özdoğan 2014; Schmidt 2010). Geographical location of Türkiye, its climate, and fertile lands has contributed to its status of being an open-air museum that incorporates a sophisticated archaeological and cultural heritage spectrum ranging from late Paleolithic times to actual. ...
Article
The ancient city of Ḫattuša, which is already in the UNESCO World Heritage List, is one of the most attractive cultural tourism spots in the central Anatolian landmass. The city is located in the Boğazkale district of the Çorum province and is one of the most important settlements in the Hittite history. The city had served as the capital of the Hittites approximately for 500 years. The oldest archaeological findings in this ancient city start from the Chalcolithic Age and extend to the Byzantine period; however, the city reached its golden ages during the reign of the Hittite Empire. Especially the construction of the monumental structures has been considered to be initiated during the old Hittite Kingdom, in the mid-sixteenth century B.C. Besides the famous cultural tourism attractions, the city and its surroundings host important geological structures. In this aspect, we propose twelve potential geosite candidates, which are quantitatively evaluated. These potential geosites are evaluated in basis of their stratigraphic, volcanic, sedimentological, structural geological value and historical significance. Especially, six of these geosite candidates are already located within the archaeological protection area and have an important potential to be registered as future geosites. A quantitative assessment of these geosites and the region for its scientific value (SV), potential educational use (PEU), potential touristic use (PTU) and degradation risk (DR) has shown that the study area has moderate high regional SV, PEU and PTU scores (288, 279 and 278, respectively) and low moderate (213) DR score. The results of the quantitative assessment show that the region has an important potential for geology education and geotourism activities.
... Dogs are depicted on the walls of tombs since the earliest Neolithic periods. For example, the famous sculptures/engravings at Göbekli Tepe from the early PPNA/PPNB depict cats, cattle, snakes and pigs, as well as dogs (Klaus Schmidt, 2010;Zalai-Gaál et al., 2011). Dogs and foxes are also represented on ceramics or dishes, with engravings (e.g. at Hallan Çemi Tepesi), sculturing (e.g. at Codžadermen VI in Gorni Pasarel during the Karanovo-Gumelniţa culture, or at Vinča where a four-legged container probably representing a dog was found) or even paintings (e.g. ...
Thesis
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The major cultural and techno-economic changes that occurred in Europe between 7,000 and 4,000 BC, including the development of agriculture, had major repercussions on the animals that lived close to humans. The dog, the only animal that has been domesticated for thousands of years is probably a good marker of the evolution of human societies at that time. Although many data inform us about its status and genetic diversity, very few studies have documented its morphological variability and the resulting possible functional adaptations in relation toanthropogenic constraints. Furthermore, to date no studies have explored the variability in ancient red foxes although they are likely to develop the same adaptations as dogs (but to a lesser extent due to their commensal nature). In this thesis, an innovative morpho-functional approach is used to describe the evolution of mandible (the best preserved bone in archaeological series and an important functional element of the masticatory apparatus) from the Mesolithic to the very early Bronze Age in Western Europe and Southern Romania. Photogrammetry and geometric morphometrics are used to quantify the shape of the bones in3D. In a first step, shape drivers and form-function relationships within the masticatory apparatus are explored in a sample of modern dogs and foxes. The masticatory muscles of approximately 120 dogs of various breeds and foxes were dissected. A biomechanical model for estimating bite force using muscle data is established and validated by in vivo measurements. Strong interrelationships between the cranium, mandible, masticatory muscles and bite force are demonstrated for both species, highlighting the strong integration despite the extreme artificial selections in modern dogs. A predictive model of bite force using theshape of mandibular fragments is therefore developed to interpret the variations in shape in the archaeological sample. The impacts of developmental and environmental factors (climate, urbanism, diet) on the form or function are quantified by studying 433 Australian foxes. Secondly, the variability of ancient dogs and foxes (528 dogs and 50 foxes) is compared with that of modern canids (70 dogs, 8 dingoes, 8 wolves, 68 foxes). Strong morphological differences are demonstrated for both species, suggesting functional differences. Ancient dogs appear highly variable in terms of size and shape, although less variable than modern dogs. Modern hypertypes have no equivalent in our archaeological sample. More surprisingly, some ancient shapes are not found in the extant sample. Finally, the variability existing in dogs prior to the Bronze Age is explored and linked to the information already available. Strong differences between eastern and western Europe are highlighted, reflecting the very different histories of dog populations in these two areas. In each geographical area, temporal but also cultural differences in the size and shape of the dogs are demonstrated. The study of foxes, although limited due to the scarcity of remains, reveals the existence of a relatively large diversity. Variation in size and shape are then probably more related to geographical andclimatic variation than to anthropogenic constraints. Differences in bite force over time are suggested for both dogs and foxes, suggesting changes in dog function, and possibly functional adaptations to a diet that has become increasingly influenced by human practices.
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For more than 15o years human bones have been recognized at Mesolithic settlement sites in Denmark, scattered among animal bones and domestic waste. These bones are often referred to as »Loose Human Bones« as they do not fulfil the normal requirement for the definition of graves. Information for a little more than 35o loose human bones found in a Late Mesolithic context has been gathered from archives, publications , reports and my own excavations for this paper. The interpretation of the LHB has varied through time, but two interpretations have been favoured and these are; bones from eroded or destroyed graves or vestiges from can-nibalistic meals. Recently new interpretations have been put forward such as LHB representing ritual behaviour or post mortem body manipulations leading to disarticulated bones found out of a grave context. In this paper alternative forms of burial practice and ritual use of human bones in architecture will be put forward as possible interpretations as well as those previously mentioned. It is argued that the distribution of graves as well as LHB differs from the distribution of contemporary settlements in the area, and an interpretation for this is proposed. Zusammenfassung Lose menschliche Knochen aus dem Dänischen Mesolithikum Seit mehr als 15o Jahren sind menschliche Knochen auf mit-telsteinzeitlichen Siedlungsplätzen in Dänemark erkannt wor-den, die unter Tierknochen und Wohnabfall verstreut waren. Diese Knochen werden oft als »lose menschliche Knochen (englische Abkürzung: LHB)« bezeichnet, da sie die normale Voraussetzung für die Definition von Gräbern nicht erfüllen. Informationen über etwas mehr als 35o lose menschliche Knochen im spätmesolithischen Kontext sind aus Archiven, Publikationen, Berichten und eigenen Ausgrabungen für die-sen Beitrag gesammelt worden. Die Interpretation der LHB variierte im Laufe der Zeit, aber zwei Interpretationen wurden bevorzugt und zwar: Kno-chen von erodierten bzw. zerstörten Gräbern oder Spuren von kannibalischen Mahlzeiten. Neuerlich sind neue Interpreta-tionen geäußert worden, dass diese LHB rituelles Verhalten repräsentieren oder auf post mortem durchgeführte Mani-pulationen am Leichnam zurückgehen; Praktiken, die zur Zerstückelung von Knochen außerhalb des Grabkontextes geführt haben. In diesem Beitrag werden alternative Formen von Bestattungspraktiken und des rituellen Gebrauchs von menschlichen Knochen in der Architektur als mögliche Inter-pretationen vorgestellt wie auch die früher genannten. Es wird argumentiert, dass die Verteilung von Gräbern ebenso wie die LHB sich von der Verteilung der zur gleichen Zeit im Gebiet vorhandenen Siedlungen unterscheiden, und eine Interpretation dafür wird vorgeschlagen.
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İnsanlık tarihi açısından önemli bir olgu olarak kabul gören Göbeklitepe, farklı türde birçok araştırmaya konu olmuştur. Göbeklitepe konulu çalışmalarda daha çok Göbeklitepe’nin Tarihsel önemi vurgulanmaktadır. Bölge turizmini odağına alan ve aynı zamanda Göbeklitepe temalı pul tasarımları üzerinden sanatsal bir etkinlik oluşturmayı hedefleyen bu çalışma, filateli (pulculuk) ürün ve hizmetleri aracılı ile alanyazına yenilikler getirmeyi amaçlamaktadır. Çalışmanın esasını doküman incelemesi ve görsel araştırma oluşturmaktadır. Doküman incelemesi; güvenilirliği ve temsil edilebilirliği denetlenmiş basılı yayınlar (kitap, tez, ansiklopedi vb.) ve elektronik ortamda yayın yapan dergiler üzerinden ilerletilmiştir. Görsel araştırmada ise Göbeklitepe’nin temel konularını, alanyazın boyutuna indirgeyen posta pulları üzerinden etkili bir içerik oluşturulmaya çalışılmıştır. Araştırmanın temel verilerini bölgesel kalkınma kapsamında; konaklayan ve günübirlik gelen turist sayısı, konaklama tesis-seyahat acente sayısı, Göbeklitepe’nin aktif hizmette olduğu ay sayısı ile ulusal-uluslararası alanda gerçekleştirilen Göbeklitepe temalı sanatsal organizasyonlar ve 2019’da tedavüle çıkarılan posta pulları oluşturmaktadır. 3 farklı araştırma alanı üzerinden ilerletilen bu çalışmada toplam 5 adet pul görseline yer verilmiştir. Toplanan pulların 4’ü yurtiçi, 1’i ise yurtdışı kullanım için tasarlanmıştır. Göbeklitepe’yi, tarihi yönünün yanı sıra, turizm ve sanatsal yönüyle de irdelemeye çalışan bu araştırmanın, alana katkı sunacak nitelikte olduğu düşünülmektedir.
Article
Excavations at two of the sources of Stonehenge’s bluestones in Mynydd Preseli, west Wales, have led to the discovery of stone tools associated with megalith quarrying in the final centuries of the fourth millennium BC, shortly before the suspected date of the bluestones’ erection at Stonehenge, 240 km away. Among the most plentiful of these tools are stone wedges, three of which were found in situ at the rhyolite bluestone quarry of Craig Rhos-y-felin. Two of these were positioned in the joints of a rhyolite pillar adjacent to a recess left by a removed pillar. Geochemical analysis reveals that these and the third wedge are of compositions different to the rock on either side of the cracks into which they had been driven, confirming their identification as quarrying tools. This research sheds new light on the methods used to extract the stones for Stonehenge.
Article
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The recently discovered Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Göbekli Tepe (SE- Turkey) is unparalleled in its architecture and art. The latter is particularly rich in animal depictions — stone figurines, sculptures and megalithic pillars decorated with bas-reliefs — and illustrates the prominent role animals played in the spiritual world of PPN human groups frequenting the site. Up to now, ten vertebrate taxa could be identified, nine of which also appeared in the archaeofaunal record of the site. Discussion focussed upon the possible role of the animal species figured at Göbekli Tepe, in particular whether the space demarcated by the pillars could have witnessed the performance of hunting rituals, initiation and passage rites, spiritual encounters or funeral practices. In view of our limited knowledge about the role animals played in the symbolic world of the PPN, in particular with respect to the logic and metaphysics governing the choice of species, the question of what purpose the enclosures served will take much more time to be properly answered.
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Dünyanın en eski heykeli
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An Early Neolithic Settlement in the Center of Sanlıurfa, Turkey. Neo-Lithics
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