Some go even further and say the site and its implications are incredible. As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.’
So what is it that has energised and astounded the sober world of academia?
The site of Gobekli Tepe is simple enough to describe. The oblong stones, unearthed by the shepherd, turned out to be the flat tops of awesome, T-shaped megaliths. Imagine carved and slender versions of the stones of Avebury or Stonehenge.
Most of these standing stones are inscribed with bizarre and delicate images – mainly of boars and ducks, of hunting and game. Sinuous serpents are another common motif. Some of the megaliths show crayfish or lions…
Carbon-dating shows that the complex is at least 12,000 years old, maybe even 13,000 years old.
That means it was built around 10,000BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built in 3,000 BC and the pyramids of Giza in 2,500 BC.
Amazing! and here we are 15,000 years later. Might I suggest a relationship between weather and religion?
On many occasions the world has borne little resemblance to what we experience today. For example, we are currently in the middle of an ice epoch (longer than an ice age) which has lasted millions of years and is likely to continue for millions more.
Yet, in the context of the history of the planet, this is not a normal period. More average conditions would be significantly warmer, producing the lush vegetation and hot conditions that prevailed aeons ago, when dinosaurs walked the Earth for millions of years.
The reason why we are in the middle of such a cold epoch has a great deal to do with the positioning of the land masses. Almost imperceptibly, the great continents are constantly moving and changing location. Throughout the history of the Earth it has been unusual to have one polar ice-cap; it is unique for us now to have two of them…
Within an ice epoch there are ice ages, which alternate with shorter warmer periods known as interglacials. At the moment the Earth is passing through an interglacial period. This has lasted for around 10,000 years following the last Ice Age, which in turn went on for some 100,000 years. It would appear from historical climatic evidence that this ice age/interglacial pattern was established at the beginning of this ice epoch. Perhaps ominously for man, the pattern suggests that ice ages last around 100,000 years on average and the shorter, warmer interglacials around 10,000 – so we are nearing the end of our current warmer period.
The creation of this “religious” site coincides with the end of the last age.
…within the current interglacial period, starting some 10,000 years ago, there have been smaller patterns emerging – periods of warmer weather, followed by colder weather and so on. These have been broken down by climatologists into four main periods.
The first followed the end of the last Ice Age, indeed it caused it to end. The Earth probably reached its warmest about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. At this time the temperature would have been on average about 2C (3.6F) warmer than the present day.
This period has acquired the name the Optimum period as a result, and was followed by a much colder spell. This more or less coincided with the historical period called the Iron Age, which reached its coldest around 2,500 years ago.
The article about the stones mentions weather in a different way however:
The world’s first farmyard pigs were domesticated at Cayonu, just 60 miles away. Sheep, cattle and goats were also first domesticated in eastern Turkey. Worldwide wheat species descend from einkorn wheat – first cultivated on the hills near Gobekli. Other domestic cereals – such as rye and oats – also started here.
But there was a problem for these early farmers, and it wasn’t just that they had adopted a tougher, if ultimately more productive, lifestyle. They also experienced an ecological crisis. These days the landscape surrounding the eerie stones of Gobekli is arid and barren, but it was not always thus. As the carvings on the stones show – and as archaeological remains reveal – this was once a richly pastoral region.
The article goes on to blame farming as the cause of the ecological crisis but I have my doubts. Regardless, the people had to leave their “garden of eden”.