Göbekli Tepe, or ‘Potbelly Hill’, in Southeastern Turkey is redefining our understanding of the Neolithic. Currently dated to 12,000 B.P, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period (c. 9600–7300 BC) site was first excavated by German Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his untimely death in 2014. The site consists of large limestone ‘T-shaped’ pillars, many of which have intricate designs across the surfaces.
Vultures, foxes, and scorpions are some of the animals that are carved onto the stone pillars. Some archaeologists have made comparisons between the site and the equally impressive Neolithic site Çatalhöyük in south-central Turkey on the Konya Plain (Hodder and Meskell 2011).
With the sizes of pillars ranging from 3-6 meters and weighing between 40-60 tonnes, the ability to construct such size-able monuments is an impressive feat. The material remains of these constructions challenge our contemporary understanding of the transition from hunter-gathering to Neolithic lifeways. On this matter Professor Ian Hodder (University of Stanford) argues: “Göbekli Tepe changes everything”.
UWTSD William Sanderson has made the trek to the site, and recently gave his paper “Art, religion and social structures at Gobekli Tepe” to the AHA research community at the Lampeter campus.