A Neolithic-era temple, dubbed already by experts as a miniature Göbekli Tepe temple has been unearthed in southeastern Turkey’s Mardin province.
Archeological survey of the site has revealed the presence of at least three nearly intact stelae eerily similar in form and shape to the more famous stelae at Göbekli Tepe, the ancient temple complex built more than 12,000 years ago and considered the birthplace of ancient civilization and the oldest temple on the surface of the planet.
Based on initial excavations, Dr. Ergül Kodaş of Mardin Artuklu University’s Archaeology Department has revealed the temple was most likely built around 11,300 years ago, which means it was probably active at a similar time when Göbekli Tepe was still in function.
Göbekli Tepe which means “Potbelly Hill” in Turkish is an archeological site in Southeastern Anatolia believed to have been built around 10,000 BC. Archeological excavations have revealed more than 200 intricately carved stone pillars in at least 20 earthen circles that have been discovered thanks to geophysical surveys of the site.
Each of the pillars at Göbekli Tepe measures around 6 meters in height, with an estimated weight of around 10 tons.
The miniature Göbekli Tepe is still being studied by archeologists but researchers have already made several important archeological discoveries. The experts have found that the walls of the 11,300-year-old mini temple were created of rubble and held in position with a hardened clay base.
Although the archeologists have still not reached the base of the ancient temple, they believe they know how the ancients built and secured the pillars in position.
News reports suggest the archaeologist have discovered at least 4 ancient stelae, three of which are believed to be exceptionally well preserved, although no inscriptions were found on any of the four standing stones.
“According to early analysis of the archeological site, the temple has four steles. We think it’s about 11,300 years old. Excavations are underway, but we have clearly revealed the steles. One of the four steles we uncovered was broken, but the other three were still preserved to this day as they were,” explained Ergul Kodas, an archaeologist at Artuklu University.
Despite the lack of inscriptions when compared to the pillars of Göbekli Tepe, archaeologists have revealed that the recently uncovered Neolithic-era temple bears many similarities to its much larger counterpart, Göbekli Tepe.
Intense archeological excavations are continuing in the area and as noted by Hurriyet, the larger excavation block includes a site known as Boncuklu Tarla, considered the oldest known human settlement in the area, found thanks to archeological survey back in 2008.
“The period that started with the establishment of the first sedentary society, as well as food production, in the history of humanity is called the Neolithic age. The first phase did not have baked clay vessels and baskets and wooden or stone vessels were used instead of baked clay, although food production was known at the beginning of the era,” Mardin Museum Director Nihat Erdoğan revealed in a statement.
“This is the Aceramic Neolithic phase. [Artifacts from this] phase, which have been found in only a few places in Anatolia, give examples of structures built according to a certain plan, with stone or bone tools and weapons, ornamental items and the first resident villages,” Erdoğan added.
The recently uncovered temple is of great importance as it suggests that places of worship similar to Göbekli Tepe were more widespread than initially thought. It also tells us that the recently uncovered temple belongs to the same period as Gobekli Tepe.
The region where the new temple was found is known to have been home to numerous ancient civilizations including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Ottomans among others.
Scholars argue that Göbekli Tepe was most likely a kind of ancient sanctuary, and radiocarbon dating has it as the oldest temple in the world. If that is true, it means that smaller sanctuaries following the same path as Göbekli Tepe existed in the region, and the recently uncovered mini-temple may be one of them.