On a barren hill in eastern Turkey, between the legendary Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, lies one of earths most ancient discoveries. First noted in 1963 but not excavated until 1995, the discovery shocked the world and rewrote history. A series of carefully placed and carved pillars of stone, encircling a central point with carved images of animals and beasts defines the monument Gobekli Tepe, an ancient Neolithic site reminiscent of Stonehenge.
At nearly 12,000 years old, Gobekli Tepe more than doubles the age of Stonehenge. In this period of history, man was thought to be only hunters and gatherers, but as evidenced in this ancient temple, man was able to work together to transport giant stones and arrange them for a mysterious purpose. It is curious to think how this site, and Eastern Turkey in general, is relatively unknown with the possibility of hiding countless more secrets. A visit to this ancient corner of civilization is a reminder to how little we know.
The site is located on the barren outskirts of the city of Safranbolu, a Kurdish city in Southeast Turkey.
The sites represents one of the earliest discoveries of monument building on our planet, at least 12,000 years old.
That is the ongoing question between scholars. Some suggest it as a temple, an observatory, and a communal gathering place.
As of 2018, the site was protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also protected by large covered roofs. Entrance fee is 200 Turkish Lira as of late 2023, although the price changes often due to inflation.
We grabbed a local bus to take us in the general direction of the site, but we didn't realize it dropped us off more than 5 miles from the site, with a hot and barren section of road between us. Thankfully, a couple farmers on a pickup truck saw our plight and offered to drive us to near the site entrance. The museum at Gobekli Tepe is quite new and draws you into the mystery of the site quite well. Gazing at the pillars and pondering the carvings in person was one of the highlights of Turkey. Gobekli Tepe is a wonder of the world that must be visited to be appreciated fully.