Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fourth Day of Tour, Part 2: Gobekli Tepe

This blog posting was difficult to compose for a number of reasons.  Photos have not yet been well placed within the blog.  Having internet connection troubles today.  

Larger view of dig showing layers
This was the reason I has signed us up for this trip!  The other sites we visited were interesting and we enjoyed everything, but Gobekli Tepe was the sole reason we came to this area.

Gobekli Tepe is known locally as Pot Belly Hill.  This site has been excavated under the direction of Klaus Schmidt and he has stated that this site will be his entire life's work.  It is one of the most significant archaeological finds anywhere in the world to date.  This site is simply overwhelming.

Gobekli pre-dates Stonehenge by more than 7,000 years.  
Take a moment to let that sink in.

Large fat birds?  2-legged animals?

Gobekli is believed to be the first form of sanctuary or place of religious worship in the world.  It was built while mankind was still hunter-gatherers not yet living in permanent clusters which were later called villages or towns.  Archaeologists believe that men gathered at this site annually or bi-annually or some set period of time in groups before men established permanent communal living areas.  

Reptile or cat with enlarged penis.
Fertility of both man and animals was very important.

The hill is the highest in the area and commands a view that is spectacular.  Yet ancient man added soil to make it even higher.  The enormous stones were moved here from distant sites.  



Numerous birds, one with many legs

Partial view of dig, different layers

Note 6 birds on edge of base

Carvings on side; but most interesting is the groove
carved on top.  Several monoliths had this groove.
What fitted into that groove?

Bowl indention in base stone supporting a monolith.
The only time I have seen these bowl depressions at
other sites has been for sacrifice.

Where the workers/artists lived nearby.
Identified but not yet excavated.

Many animal carvings.  Why the hole?

Sign showing aerial view of level with 'terrazzo' floor.
Note the circular placement of the monoliths.

Baskets? and more birds

DVD - A little later in the Dig, different levels

DVD--Note the circular placement as dug up

DVD -- Is that an 'H' or 2 people holding hands?
The lower symbol is for fertility

DVD -- Intricately carved alligator

DVD -- Intricately carved bull

DVD -- Bull on top, hyena center, bird on bottom

DVD -- Very intricately carved insects & designs

DVD -- A simulation of how the stones are arranged
on lowest level excavated thus far
Bill is now re-reading 'The Source' by James Michener, a novel which traces the history of monotheism quite literally to its source back to the era of cavemen.  The night before we visited Gobekli Bill had just reached the part in this book when descendants of the family of Ur had begun carving the monoliths up on the hill.  Gobekli was exactly as Michener had described this in his novel which was written years before the discovery of Gobekli.

DVD -- Dig getting interesting

What is strange is that after all the T-shaped monoliths (believed to represent gods) were carved and placed in circles, the people hauled in tons upon tons of soil to bury them.  Then they would start a new layer or higher level of T-shaped monoliths placed in more circles.

I cannot do justice to Gobekli by describing what we saw.  Here are a few links that provide information:

Link: The Smithsonian info    
Symbol of fertility, more 'H' symbols

Link: National Geographic info -- particularly interesting

Link:  Gobekli info from Turkey

DVD--Overhead view of Dig showing circles of placement

DVD--Ground penetrating radar has found 16 more sites

An interesting tidbit told to us by the guide is that there are 16 other sites situated in the relative vicinity that have been identified by the ground penetrating radar used in archaeology today to determine what should be excavated.  Excavation has not yet begun on any of those 16 other sites.  There are still more layers to excavate here at Gobekli.  

DVD - Fairly early in the Dig

Each layer excavated takes father back in history.  Carbon dating verifies the dates that these stones were carved and placed at the various levels.  Also, each level has been found to have a well constructed stone floor.  One of the floors is concrete-like and has been described as water-proof terrazzo. 

DVD--The Dig getting more complicated

The websites that I linked above state that the site is dated back to 10,000 B.C. but that is no longer true.  The most recent excavations are dated back to 16,000 B.C.  That is impossible for me to get my mind wrapped around.  To imagine that men were carving stones and moving this megaliths long distances and up tall hills that long ago is beyond my comprehension. 

DVD -- Crude carvings of animals

Everything I have read previously about early man is now challenged by this new information!

We bought a DVD at the site that provides great information about what they have learned thus far.  It is absolutely amazing.

DVD -- Several birds, one with many legs

Bill captured some of the images off that DVD and I am including a few of those on this blog; these are labeled as "DVD--whatever".  My own photos are also included but mine do not have proper lighting and the angles are limited to where I could stand on the scaffolding both within and surrounding the dig.

Male reptile.

According to the signs at the dig site, thus far they have unearthed stones with carvings of griseus (elongated carnivorous fish with tough skin covered with toothlike scales), various reptiles, wild boars, common crane, white stork, fox, gazelle, wild donkey, snakes, scorpions, wild sheep, lion, spiders and humans without heads.

DVD -- A flint tool.
How did they build this with such crude tools!

Above the dig is a lonely tree at the top of the hill.  This is a Wish Tree.  Several people had placed pieces of paper tucked into the tree bark stating their wishes, usually these are women wishing for a baby.  Beneath the tree were 2 very old Islamic graves.

There are pieces of flint all over the hillside, just laying right on top of the soil.  The flint so common on this hill provided tools for the ancient artists to carve the monoliths and images.

Arab women at the Wish Tree on top of site

While we were at Gobekli the busload of Arab women arrived who had been at Harran earlier that morning.  Again, they were full of smiles and laughter.  One woman kept touching her face and eyes and pointing to my face and saying something.  I could not understand what she was trying to convey.  Finally, a young girl came up and told me that the woman thought I was beautiful.  Well, thanks, but I do not meet the definition of beautiful.  In the traditional Arab culture a heavy woman is considered a good thing; it means her husbands provides well for her.  Well, okay.  I will agree that Bill has done a great job of providing for me.

Caretaker living quarter with satellite TV & solar panels

Walking back to the bus Bill noticed the caretakers' living quarters.  These few men are living inside a shipping container which has a bunch of solar panels to provide their energy needs.  And, of course, there were satellite TV dishes and other satellite dishes mounted on top of that shipping container.  They are very isolated out here but no reason not to have some modern day conveniences.

Looking down on dig site from top of hill

After Gobekli we stopped for lunch and then had a very long drive to Midyat, arriving well after dark.  This was our longest day of touring and traveling.  Gwen noted that an airport is under construction in Mardin.  She plans to change future itineraries for this trip once that airport opens and there will be less distance driving required.


  1. Hello Judy & Bill, can you kindly tell me the source of the following pic you've posted?

    Thansk a lot

  2. That image came from the DVD we purchased at the dig site.


Your comment will be posted after we confirm that you are not a cyber stalker.