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An Ancient Hunter-Gatherer Culture: The Cradle of Civilization?
An Ancient Hunter-Gatherer Culture: The Cradle of Civilization?

An Ancient Hunter-Gatherer Culture: The Cradle of Civilization?

Tom Knox in “Do these mysterious stones mark the site of the Garden of Eden?” (05 March 2009) on the UK’s Mail Online writes about a more recent interpretation of an older archeological find: Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey. Mr. Knox writes that the find has been dated to be 12,000 to 13,000 years old, which puts it at 10,000 BC — vs., he says, the 3,000 BC of Stonehenge and the 2,500 BC of the Giza Pyramids. Mr. Knox also writes that the temple was made of stones arranged like those of Stonehenge, and that on the stones were carved images of boars, ducks, hunting, lions, game, serpents, crayfish. He then writes:
This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something like Gobekli, is worldchanging, for it shows that the old hunter-gatherer life, in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived – almost unbelievably sophisticated. … Seen in this way, the Eden story, in Genesis, tells us of humanity’s innocent and leisured hunter-gatherer past, when we could pluck fruit from the trees, scoop fish from the rivers and spend the rest of our days in pleasure. But then we ‘fell’ into the harsher life of farming, with its ceaseless toil and daily grind. And we know primitive farming was harsh, compared to the relative indolence of hunting, because of the archaeological evidence. When people make the transition from hunter-gathering to settled agriculture, their skeletons change – they temporarily grow smaller and less healthy as the human body adapts to a diet poorer in protein and a more wearisome lifestyle. Likewise, newly domesticated animals get scrawnier.
Read the rest! A very interesting, thought-provoking article. I wondered if this story was fact or fiction, but, based on a quick Google search, it appears to be fact. In “Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?” (published in Smithsonian Magazine, November 2008) on SmithsonianMag.com, Andrew Curry writes:
Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s. As part of a sweeping survey of the region, they visited the hill, saw some broken slabs of limestone and assumed the mound was nothing more than an abandoned medieval cemetery. In 1994, Schmidt was working on his own survey of prehistoric sites in the region. After reading a brief mention of the stone-littered hilltop in the University of Chicago researchers’ report, he decided to go there himself. From the moment he first saw it, he knew the place was extraordinary.
Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. … We follow a knot of workmen up the hill to rectangular pits shaded by a corrugated steel roof—the main excavation site. In the pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. As we walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars’ broad sides. … Prehistoric people would have gazed upon herds of gazelle and other wild animals; gently flowing rivers, which attracted migrating geese and ducks; fruit and nut trees; and rippling fields of wild barley and wild wheat varieties such as emmer and einkorn. “This area was like a paradise,” says Schmidt, a member of the German Archaeological Institute. Indeed, Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. And partly because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity’s first “cathedral on a hill.”
There is some video footage of Gobekli Tepe on YouTube — some in German, but it’s worth watching since you get to see what the articles are talking about. The blog post “The worlds oldest stone temple, Gobekli Tepe” on Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog says:
Gobekli Tepe has been dated to about 11,500 years old, and is located in Urfa, Sothern Turkey, quite close to the border with Syria. It’s believed that the temples were built by the last hunter gatherers before the conversion to agriculture. It’s quite possible the people that built these temples were the first ever wheat farmers as recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in structure to wild wheat found in a mountain (Karacadağ) 20 miles away from the site, leading one to believe that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated. Domesticated rye 13,000 years old has been found just to the South in Syria, and the domestication of sheep goats and cattle is known to be atabout the 11,000 to 12,000 year mark in the Zagros, so it’s entirely possible these people were the early Turkish farmers and not hunter gatherers.
Read the rest and check out the pictures. She links to a post about Gobekli on Terrae Antiqvae. Read and look…

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