Gobekli Tepe – An Introduction

Author: Kristen Macfarlane

Figure 1: The megaliths that define Gobekli Tepe.


Gobekli Tepe, located in Turkey is the oldest discovered temple in the world which dates to as far back as 9,000 BC (1). This site is a tell – a man-made mound that went through stages of use over centuries. The site consists of many rings of T-shaped standing megalyths carved with creatures and human-like figures (1).  They were built and back-filled in two layers of similar structures during different time periods (2).  Archeologists have found no evidence of residential artifacts or signs of settlement showing the people who built these megalith rings never lived at the site. Archeologists have only found animal bones nearby that indicate the builders were hunters.  This means that the site was used for ceremonial purposes. Within 1,000 years of the first ring construction, this area of Turkey became a birthplace of agriculture (4). The greatest significance about the discovery is that this site shows that hunter-gatherers were capable of complex religious ceremonial practices and adequate organization to build large stone monuments – which was previously dismissed (3). No known ceremonial site like this has ever been found to exist before the development of agriculture.