In Brief: There are various considerations why Göbekli Tepe is a history-changing site. Here are three distinct reasons I think Göbekli Tepe is unlike any other ancient monument we’ve found to date.
More than 12,000 years ago, at a time when history as we know it was not even written, hunter-gatherers roamed the planet in search of food, History tells us that during this specific period, there were no developed societies. These people hunted what they could and gathered food from different sources in order to survive.
History books tell us that they did not remain in one location for a long time and were essentially nomads that traveled in search of food and shelter. Settlements were still not built, at least not in a traditional sense, and certainly not on a year-long basis.
However, an ancient site in present-day Turkey called Göbekli Tepe challenges this view and offers conclusive evidence that 12,00 years ago, there were already developed societies on Earth.
Built sometime during the 10th millennium BC, Göbekli Tepe is a monument unlike any other we’ve ever discovered. Even though the site has been excavated since 1996, archaeologists have barely scraped its surface, and no more than 5% of the site was excavated to date.
Nonetheless, we know that the site is massive; geological surveys of the area have revealed that Göbekli Tepe is home to at least 30 circles and over 200 stone pillars. Each of these pillars is truly massive; it weighs over 10 tons and was carved to a height of 6 meters. The massive stones were fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the local bedrock.
Göbekli Tepe offers evidence that already 12,000 years ago, people had the ability to construct multi-ton monuments. And Göbekli Tepe is a massive monument. In fact, in terms of age and size, there is nothing in the world that can compare to it. It’s not just a random structure; the site shows evidence of complex organization and arrangement. It means that the builders did not erect the site randomly and, that it was planned and built with great care.
This speaks os its importance. The complex is massive, it’s organized, and it must have taken years or even possibly decades to build. Remember, this was 12,000 years ago, and the people who quarried, transported, and placed into position the multi-ton stones had no more than primitive tools at their disposal. This is why many archaeologists agree that Göbekli Tepe changes it all.
The people who constructed it were more than hunter-gatherers. You don’t go on to build something like Göbekli Tepe, with such great care, with a society that lives on a day-to-day basis.
Although archaeological excavations at the site have not revealed any evidence of residential structures, I believe it is only a matter of time before we come across a settlement not far from Göbekli Tepe.
It has been estimated that between 500 and 1000 people were needed to quarry, transport, and position the multi-ton stones at the site. If this was the case, then whoever was in charge of the construction process must have provided food, shelter, and clothing to the builders.
Since Göbekli Tepe was not built in a matter of months or years, the people surely founded a settlement nearby where the builders were cared for. This settlement—if it really existed—was not a small one, and most likely accommodated somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 people.
Furthermore, this society must have been organized. There was very likely a hierarchy set in place, where different people were tasked with different work. It is very likely that there were workers who specifically quarried the stone, those that transported it, and then there were workers that raised the stones.
Another important detail we must not forget is that many of the pillars at Göbekli Tepe are intricately decorated, depicting various animals, symbols, and humanoid figurines. This tells us that the society that built Göbekli Tepe had artists in their community. This, in turn, means that these artists likely showed off their art on other, much smaller objects that they crafted throughout their life.
If we do come across a settlement where the builders of Göbekli Tepe lived, then we will most likely come across those artifacts, and these were probably made of different materials that depict some of the symbols and illustrations we see today at Göbekli Tepe. That’s one way that we can help identify the society that built Göbekli Tepe because the symbols on the pillars clearly had great importance to them.
1. It’s older than old
The first reason why I think Göbekli Tepe is the most unique monument on Earth, and there’s nothing like it around, is because of its age. Obviously, there are no other ancient monuments on Earth that show the degree of complexity, workmanship, and artistry as Göbekli Tepe.
The most important part, all of this was achieved around 12,000 years ago when history books indicate that people that lived on Earth were still not developed societies. Göbekli Tepe proves them wrong and shows that already then, ancient cultures were more than capable of constructing multi-ton monuments.
2. A construction project of unseen proportions
Göbekli Tepe is extremely ancient. To build such a massive site, a great deal of both material and human resources were needed. This was done, supposedly, by no more than hunters gather societies.
The thing is, these “hunter-gatherer” societies built a monument of unseen proportions.
Göbekli Tepe is so impressive that we can almost compare it to the pyramids of Egypt. Perhaps not in the amount of stone used, but in its complexity. Thousands of years would pass after Göbekli Tepe until mankind built something of similar proportions.
It is noteworthy to remember that some of the most impressive monuments on Earth were erected during a time when people had already developed agriculture and certain technologies. Göbekli Tepe is so old that it predates pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel.
So, how did such “primitive” societies managed to quarry, transport, and raise into position blocks of stone weighing 10 and 20 tons?
There’s one stone pillar at Göbekli Tepe—still in its quarry—that has ane estimated eight of 50 tons.
Sticks and stones?
3. Advanced society, 12,000 years ago
No, I’m not saying aliens and lasers.
But we know that the society that built Göbekli Tepe was by no means primitive.
Although we can’t possibly know much about them now, we do know that they must have been very, very organized. The degree of their organization is debatable, but to build something of the size of Göbekli Tepe, that speaks for itself.
The more we explore the site, the more we are left awestruck by it.
We now that the entire complex was not built randomly, and that there are certain patterns embedded within the structures.
One such pattern was only recently found by researchers.
A study published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal reveals that the builders of Göbekli Tepe had knowledge of geometric principles already 12,000 years ago.
Some of the stone circles that were analyzed at the site (the oldest) show hidden geometric patterns: the builders incorporated shapes such as equilateral triangles when they built the stone circles and positioned the stone pillars. This tells us that the architects of Göbekli Tepe had knowledge of geometry even before it was officially “even invented.”