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Gobekli Tepe: The Key to it all? (Pre-History)
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Mick Harper
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I thought it time to get to grips with this site which has a lot to tell us about both pre-history and academicism -- and AE. I'll start off by filleting a 2008 article from the Smithsonian Magazine which I take to be a reasonably account of the state of play then and which, as far as I know, hasn't changed much since. The article itself can be found here https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobekli-tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/
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Mick Harper
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World’s First Temple?
Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years
Turkey’s stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization




It certainly has not had a noticeable effect on the conventional view of the rise of civilisation but how it fits into The Megalithic Empire's view of the rise of civilisation remains to be seen.

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. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple.



Starting with whether it is a temple or not.
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Grant



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But an even bigger question is how do you pronounce the name?
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Mick Harper
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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.

The first thing to say is this would be remarkable for the Megalithic era but verging on the unbelievable six thousand years before it. If it is a temple, it is five different temples.

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.

This would be unprecedented in the Megalithic era. Whether such carvings are coeval with the stones is not knowable though the effect of rain (heavy in these parts seasonally) is.

Schmidt points to the great stone rings, one of them 65 feet across. "This is the first human-built holy place," he says.

Archaeologists always know these things, they always know they are for 'ritual purposes'.

From this perch 1,000 feet above the valley, we can see to the horizon in nearly every direction. Schmidt, 53, asks me to imagine what the landscape would have looked like 11,000 years ago, before centuries of intensive farming and settlement turned it into the nearly featureless brown expanse it is today.

I would have asked Schmidt how often he finds himself on a 'plain' i.e. where you can see the horizon in every direction. And why a temple (or temples) would be built on a site which must have had this purpose in mind. But archaeologists do not concern themselves with such matters. More.../
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Mick Harper
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"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 and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant.

Hunter-gatherer A: Let's go and visit a temple a thousand miles away.
Hunter-gatherer B: Yeah, let's. They'll give us a right warm welcome.
Hunter-gatherer A: We'll have to hunt and gather all the way.
Hunter-gatherer B: I'm game.
Hunter-gatherer A: Oh, you and your puns.

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."

"I'll just provide a list of cathedrals perched a thousand feet up on a hill for comparative purposes. There's... no, wait, there's... oh, you know, what's its name... oh, soddit, who's ever going to notice? I'm an archaeologist, we say the first thing that comes into our head as long as it's 'for ritual purposes' and people always believe it. As indeed do we."

In rapid-fire German he explains that he has mapped the entire summit using ground-penetrating radar and geomagnetic surveys, charting where at least 16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres.

Did I say five different temples?
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Mick Harper
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The one-acre excavation covers less than 5 percent of the site. He says archaeologists could dig here for another 50 years and barely scratch the surface.

Or change their minds.

Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s.

So, the most important site in the whole of pre-history was examined by not one but two universities (though how anthropologists would be involved is a mystery) and how did these professionals react?

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.

But what do American or Turks know? Enter the Germans. Well, German.

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.

He did what any reader of Megalithic Empire would have done...
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Mick Harper
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Unlike the stark plateaus nearby, Gobekli Tepe (the name means "belly hill" in Turkish) has a gently rounded top that rises 50 feet above the surrounding landscape. To Schmidt's eye, the shape stood out. "Only man could have created something like this," he says.

It is truly remarkable that archaeologists can stumble around the world and miss these things. Or, worse, notice one and ask geologists what it is. "Ooh ah, that be natural that be, plain as a pikestaff. Now bugger off or I'll hit you with one."

"It was clear right away this was a gigantic Stone Age site."

No, mein herr, it was clear right away it was a humanly engineered site. Best not make assumptions until it is cleared right away.

The broken pieces of limestone that earlier surveyors had mistaken for gravestones suddenly took on a different meaning.

Blimey, you must have an IQ in three figures.

Schmidt returned a year later with five colleagues and they uncovered the first megaliths, a few buried so close to the surface they were scarred by plows.

Let's hear it for the investigatory indefatigability of the Universities of Chicago and Istanbul.

As the archaeologists dug deeper, they unearthed pillars arranged in circles. Schmidt's team, however, found none of the telltale signs of a settlement: no cooking hearths, houses or trash pits, and none of the clay fertility figurines that litter nearby sites of about the same age.

An important detail. We now find out that the area has been the subject of indefatigable investigation.

The archaeologists did find evidence of tool use, including stone hammers and blades. And because those artifacts closely resemble others from nearby sites previously carbon-dated to about 9000 B.C., Schmidt and co-workers estimate that Gobekli Tepe's stone structures are the same age.

Another important detail. We have been told these sites were excavated in the 1960's when carbon-dating was in its infancy. But surely Gobekli Tepe -- which is considered by everyone to be maybe the most important pre-historical archaeological site ever, anywhere -- is going to be carbon-dated by the most modern methods known to man. But lookee here

Limited carbon dating undertaken by Schmidt at the site confirms this assessment.

A more weasily claim it is is hard to imagine. /more...
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Hatty
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Mick Harper wrote:

Limited carbon dating undertaken by Schmidt at the site confirms this assessment.

A more weasily claim it is is hard to imagine. /more...

According to Wiki, Gobekli Tepe was first surveyed in 1963 but Schmidt only started digging from about 1996. By then carbon dating was surely an established dating method

the importance of the site was recognised by Schmidt, who directed excavations there from 1995 until his death, in 2014.

Carbon dating tests have been done though archaeologists say there are problems due to a lack of charcoal and an absence of domesticated plants or animals so were obliged to borrow 'guiding fossils' (their term) from other sites.

This refilling is fascinating in regard to the enclosure’s functions but poses severe problems for the dating of Layer III using the radiocarbon method, as organic remains from the fill-sediments could be older or younger than the enclosures, with younger samples becoming deposited at lower depths, thus producing an inverse stratigraphy. Another issue is the lack of carbonized organic material available for dating; only in the last campaigns have larger quantities been discovered.

They've identified separate layers but say the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) layer was refilled and neither strata nor architecture can provide 'chronological points of reference' i.e. they can't be accurately dated.

https://www.dainst.blog/the-tepe-telegrams/2016/06/22/how-old-ist-it-dating-gobekli-tepe/
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Mick Harper
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Limited carbon dating undertaken by Schmidt at the site confirms this assessment.
A more weasily claim it is is hard to imagine.
According to Wiki, Gobekli Tepe was first surveyed in 1963 but Schmidt only started digging from about 1996. By then carbon dating was surely an established dating method

What I meant was that in the case of such a major site over so many years, I would not expect the word 'limited' to be there, nor would I expect the word 'assessment' to be there. The rest of your Wiki quotes as well as your own comments make it quite clear there are major problems of dating. It is hard to say whether careful ignoral is involved or whether there really are technical problems cf Stonehenge itself.

My own working assumption is that there is plenty of evidence of general Paleolithic occupation of the area i.e. 9000 BC but the megalithic stuff is Megalithic era i.e. 4-3,000 BC.
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Mick Harper
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The way Schmidt sees it, Gobekli Tepe's sloping, rocky ground is a stonecutter's dream. Even without metal chisels or hammers, prehistoric masons wielding flint tools could have chipped away at softer limestone outcrops, shaping them into pillars on the spot before carrying them a few hundred yards to the summit and lifting them upright.

This is a weird way of looking at cult centres. St Paul's Cathedral is made from Portland stone. Thank goodness they didn't listen to the technical people at the time. "Yes, it's a nice spot, I grant you that, but wouldn't it be better to build it in Dorset where there's some nice limestone outcroppings."

Then, Schmidt says, once the stone rings were finished, the ancient builders covered them over with dirt.

"Good morning, Mr Wren, finished yet?"
"Nearly. We're just elaborately carving foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures on the pillars' broad sides."
"As soon as you have, bury the whole thing."

Eventually, they placed another ring nearby or on top of the old one. Over centuries, these layers created the hilltop.

"Hawksmoor, are you busy at the moment?"
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Mick Harper
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Joris Peters, an archaeozoologist from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, specializes in the analysis of animal remains. Since 1998, he has examined more than 100,000 bone fragments from Gobekli Tepe. Peters has often found cut marks and splintered edges on them—signs that the animals from which they came were butchered and cooked.

Archaeologists -- and anthropologists for that matter -- are quite used to finding such profusions. They even have a name for them, middens. Usually they are shell fish because by their nature hunter-gatherers can't stay in one spot for very long unless they set up in some spot where nature provides them with plenty without them having to move. But terrestrial middens are not out of the question in the right circumstances. As we shall see...

The bones, stored in dozens of plastic crates stacked in a storeroom at the house, are the best clue to how people who created Gobekli Tepe lived.

Every last one living proof of the age of Gobecki Tepe. Somewhat at odds with

Another issue is the lack of carbonized organic material available for dating; only in the last campaigns have larger quantities been discovered.

but anyway let's get down to cases

Peters has identified tens of thousands of gazelle bones, which make up more than 60 percent of the total, plus those of other wild game such as boar, sheep and red deer. He's also found bones of a dozen different bird species, including vultures, cranes, ducks and geese. "The first year, we went through 15,000 pieces of animal bone, all of them wild. It was pretty clear we were dealing with a hunter-gatherer site," Peters says.

This is so absurd, it is hard to know where to start. For a start, try to catch a gazelle. You can have a stone axe, if it will help. But no doubt you'll use your animal cunning to snare it (or them) somehow. Whatever you do, don't butcher it. Put it across your shoulders and take it home with you so they can butcher it properly there. Repeat with boars, sheep and red deer. If you leave it out for a bit though, and hide behind a tree, you can jump out and bag a vulture or two when they come for a look-see. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the women-folk are splashing around in the river grabbing all sort of water fowl.

"It's been the same every year since." The abundant remnants of wild game indicate that the people who lived here had not yet domesticated animals or farmed.

Maybe not but the evidence would be remarkably similar if they had.
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Mick Harper
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But, Peters and Schmidt say, Gobekli Tepe's builders were on the verge of a major change in how they lived, thanks to an environment that held the raw materials for farming.

Remember those dating problems? We are now to learn how academics deal with a situation that overthrows the conventional model to ensure it fits snugly into the conventional model.

"They had wild sheep, wild grains that could be domesticated—and the people with the potential to do it," Schmidt says.

Schmitty has taken the evidence of domestication as evidence that the inhabitants had the potential to domesticate!

In fact, research at other sites in the region has shown that within 1,000 years of Gobekli Tepe's construction, settlers had corralled sheep, cattle and pigs.

It is now safe for a voilà and we are back on the orthodox path

And, at a prehistoric village just 20 miles away, geneticists found evidence of the world's oldest domesticated strains of wheat; radiocarbon dating indicates agriculture developed there around 10,500 years ago, or just five centuries after Gobekli Tepe's construction.
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Mick Harper
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To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization.

Oh yes? This will be a first in the annals of archeology.

Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures.

If they believe this they need their hands examining. 'Scholars' (the word used when 'the orthodox model' is meant) have known since the birth of archaeology and the discovery of middens that people have been living in settled communities since the year dot. It is only because of their insane 'hunter-gatherer' model of what early people got up to that allows this to fly. But please, Herr Schmidt, do go on

But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.

Now he needs his head examining. I haven't seen a cart this size put in front of so small a horse since the year dot. Our man now proves his case by stating a truism

The immensity of the undertaking at Gobekli Tepe reinforces that view. Schmidt says the monuments could not have been built by ragged bands of hunter-gatherers. To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago.

It looks like the poltroon is getting support. Well, actually he has to, the evidence at Gobekli Teke is quite unarguable.

"This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later," says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. "You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies."

It always was, remember, Ian? Now all of you are stuck with a model in which human beings have to create complex societies before having acquired the means to do so. Those hunter-gatherers are the most remarkable hunter-gatherers in the whole of human existence. "Yes," say archaeologists, "that's what we've always been saying ever since we described that Paleolithic housewife throwing out some wild wheat grains and accidentally discovering agriculture. Everything always happens first in the Fertile Crescent."
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