Home > Critical Thinking, Musings, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > The Significance of Göbekli Tepe

The Significance of Göbekli Tepe

An archeological site in Turkey, known as Göbekli Tepe, is currentely the oldest known archeological site with evidence of significant and prolonged construction activity by humans. Evidence suggests that it was some sort of religious/gathering place for people.

The real kicker- The site was built about 12,000 years ago, was active for over 3,000 years and then methodically covered up in the 8th millenia BC. Its excavation contradicted the then popular view that an established agricultural system was necessary for large-scale mobilization and co-operation amongst human beings. Archeological evidence from that site suggests that it was built at the very beginning of the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculture based societies, as the remains of wild versions of cereals such as wheat have been found at that site.

Here is a YouTube Clip about that site.

and a few pictures that show the scale and detail of the buildings, which were constructed before what we consider ‘civilization’ existed. Note that each T-shaped pillar weighs about 40-60 tons.


  1. Gorbachev
    March 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I’ve been following this for a while. Since Catal Huyuk, central/eastern Anatolia has been the staging ground for our knowledge of early civilization.

    The site itself is beautiful, the artwork stunning. I’m sure there are older ones.

  2. March 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I think it’s entirely possible that civilization has several ‘false’ starts before it really got going.

    After all, anatomically modern humans have been around for what? 200,000 years? Plenty of time to start developing complex societies that then collapsed, restarted, collapsed again etc.

    It’s happened in other place (Mayans, Silk Road civilizations).

    That this is seen as shaking the foundations of history is because the unconscious paradigm is that history and ‘progress’ are fairly linear and that we are only ever advancing as a species, sometimes stagnating (‘Dark Ages’).

    • joesantus
      March 22, 2015 at 11:14 am

      “False starts”… and/or “temporary successes”, civilzations which were successful but which later failed for various reasons.

      And, I agree with your “resisted because it contradicts the idyll of progress” speculation.

      Our particular branch of humanoid seems to be bio-wired such that what we call “hope” predominates as a feeling, and “hope” is a strong tool to keep humans, individually and collectively, surviving and subsequently reproducing. Unless consciously overriden with rational and critical thinking, “hope” keeps people believing “things will get better” with the corollary “if things seem worse today, then if we simply re-implement the ways of the good ol’ days, we’ll resume progress”.

      So, facing evidence that things DON’T continually improve nor progress and that any success today ultimately tells nothing about whether we’ll experience continued success or even success at all tomorrow, isn’t what our “hope” bio-wiring wants us to heed.

      • hoipolloi
        March 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm

        Please let me second what you just said. I see this among first generation Asian immigrants – “if we simply re-implement the ways of the good ol’ days, we’ll resume progress” – mentality without realizing that it was the so called good old days that brought them to this level that they had to flee their native lands in desperation worshipping at the immigration counters in the American consulates all over the globe. That is “hope” that has not been refined at the fire of critical thinking.

  3. Hughman
    March 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    We’re pretty damn sure the Romans and/or the Egyptians traded with South Americans. Mummies have been found buried with tobacco and cocca leaves. Ancient historians talk about the ‘people beyond the Gates of Hercules [Gibralta straits]’

  4. Kenosis
    March 31, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I guess the world isn’t 6000 years old after all

  5. Nestorius
    April 1, 2011 at 6:20 am

    It all starts from carving a small stone to a bigger one.

  6. Nestorius
    April 1, 2011 at 6:27 am

    What about beavers’ lodges? Isn’t this some sort of civilization?

  7. April 5, 2011 at 1:24 am

    I’ve written a short story about Göbekli Tepe almost as soon as I’ve heard of it – in 2008. I’ve translated it to English for a literary event, and since there is no other venue for me to publish it that would have so many readers, I just put it up on the internet.

    Here it is, as a google document.

    It’s a bit more on the philosophical side – investigating the discord between instinctual practices and the recognition of the symbolic form, and it also touches the Schmidt aspect of the new interpretation of standard marxist staple – first came the city, then the temple. It really seems that it was the other way around, which is all kinds of amazing in my eyes :) The superstructure drives the economic base forward – that makes art the most important of human practices.

    Thanks for your time!

  8. November 20, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Kenosis :
    I guess the world isn’t 6000 years old after all

    That was the last time the “reset” button got pushed. ;-)

  9. EvilOne
    November 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Obviously, aliens.

  10. Rich
    March 19, 2015 at 12:41 am

    They look like zoo markers,

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