In 1963, a joint project by the universities of Chicago and Istanbul unearthed some mysterious stone structures in the south-eastern part of Turkey.
Located on top of a grassy plateau, most of the archeological remains seemed to be from the Neolithic period.
Among the findings were a number of giant limestone constructs that were assumed to be gravestones from the Medieval period.
Although these minor findings were intriguing to some, most of the area would remain buried beneath the ground for the next three decades.
Klaus Schmidt Investigates
In 1994, the site finally gained the attention of an archaeologist named Klaus Schmidt.
He had read through the original survey from the 60s and felt the area was worth examining further.
After traveling to the plateau, he quickly realized that the so-called graves didn’t tell the whole story.
Following a close inspection, he came to a thrilling conclusion:
The visible stones looked to be the top portions of deeply-buried, t-shaped, megaliths.
He suspected this because he had previously taken part in a dig at another site, Nevah Cori, were similar monuments had been unearthed.
Exited for the potential of new discoveries, Schmidt laid the plans for an excavation.
One year later, he had acquired the help of the Turkish Sanhurfa Museum, which supplied him with resources and a team of workers.
Only a few feet into the dig, Schmidt’s prediction of megalithic pillars had been proven true.
A new historical phenomenon had been revealed:
The research that followed produced a list of puzzling facts that shook up the fields of archeology and history.
Facts About Göbekli Tepe
1. Göbekli Tepe is the oldest megalithic structure ever found.
It dates back as far as 11,000 years.
This makes it a whopping 6,000 years older than Stonehenge.
2. As of 2020, excavations are still ongoing, and archeologists estimate that it could take several decades to reveal the entire area.
3. The oldest layer in the area contains 200 stones that are neatly arranged into various enclosures.
In the center of each of these circles, there are two large, t-shaped stones (or pillars, as Schmidt called them).
The biggest of them weighs an incredible 50 tons and is over 19 feet tall.
4. According to mainstream history, the megaliths at Göbekli Tepe hadn’t gone through the ‘Neolithic revolution’.
Meaning, they were most likely erected without critical technology like metal-working, animal domestication, and the wheel.
The original builders would have been hunter-gatherers (at least according to the currently-prevailing model — more on that later).
5. It is estimated that as many as 500 people would be needed to make and move just one of the t-shaped pillars of Göbekli Tepe.
6. Many mysterious carvings can be seen on the stones — most of them depicting animals like bears, boars, vultures, and scorpions.
7. The megaliths appear to have been deliberately buried by someone around 8,200 BCE. As of yet, nobody knows why this was done.
The First Temple On Earth?
Due to its ancient dating and hazy history, there are a number of different theories surrounding Göbekli Tepe.
Klaus Schmidt and most historians believe that it was one of, if not the first temple on Earth.
One of the main reasons for thinking this is that no clear evidence of habitation was found — people seemed to have used the giant stone enclosures for something else.
In 2015, a small plaque was found, which gave additional evidence to support this theory.
It measured 2.3 by 1 inch and showed two t-shaped pillars surrounding a humanoid figure.
Above the figure’s head, and between the top parts of the pillars, there’s a small hole.
This hole mirrors the placement of holes found cut in two rectangular blocks inside the enclosures.
Taken together, the symbolic layout of both the enclosure at large and the plaque suggests that Schmidt’s theory of a temple ground could be right.
Göbekli Tepe and Eden
According to journalist Tom Nox, Schmidt also had another, more controversial theory regarding Göbekli Tepe:
That is was a temple located in what the Bible refers to as Eden.
When considering the history of the site, this thought is certainly not without merit.
Based on current archeological findings, hunter-gatherer “Göbeklians” lived a humble life in “paradise”, so to say.
Then, with the advent of agriculture (often referred to as “the fruit of knowledge”) came the great “fall of man”.
The Fall of Man
There are a number of facts that seem to back up this version of Eden and the Fall.
Firstly, the first signs of human sacrifice are seen in cultures that emerged after the Neolithic revolution.
In fact, Cayonu (a later agricultural area near Göbekli Tepe.) is the site of the earliest evidence of human sacrifice.
Then, we have the significant health effects early agriculture had on humans, which could certainly be seen as part of a significant fall.
When examined, the bones of Neolithic hunter-gatherers have been shown to be much stronger than their immediate farming descendants.
In general, they enjoyed longer, healthier lives and taller, stronger physiques than the early-agricultural peoples.
Lastly, the area surrounding Göbekli Tepe was once rich in lush woodlands, rivers, and herds of wild animals.
However, after some time, it became more or less barren, most likely due to over farming.
For those living in the area, this would probably contribute to a feeling of decline.
There are also descriptive clues from the Bible that may back up Göbekli Tepe’s Eden connection.
For instance, the Book of Genesis says Eden was located West of Assyria and bound by four rivers (two of them being the Euphrates and Tigris).
Sure enough, Göbekli Tepe lies within these very borders.
Additionally, the word ‘Eden’ itself comes from a Sumerian word meaning “plain”.
This puzzle piece also fits nicely, as the old temple grounds are found atop a plateau on the Harran Plains.
The Vulture Stone
So far, one of the most interesting findings in Göbekli Tepe is what has been dubbed the ‘vulture stone’ (also known as pillar 43).
At the bottom of the stone, there’s a portrayal of a headless person surrounded by various animals.
The most prominent depictions are of two vultures (one big and one small) and a scorpion.
Anatolian Sky Burials
A ball (perhaps representing the human figure’s missing head, or even soul) can be seen balanced on the wingtip of the largest vulture.
This may be entirely or partially symbolic.
However, it could also be a reference to the ‘sky burials’ that took place in the area when Göbekli Tepe was being used.
Sky burials were also practiced by various ancients in parts of Persia, China, India, and Tibet (one of the few places where they’re still frequently carried out today).
In this funerary tradition, a human corpse is left exposed on top of a mountain or other elevated location where carrion birds are known to roam.
Eventually, the corpse is picked clean, and the few skeletal remains that are left will either be scattered by the elements or buried by the earth.
While it may sound a bit grotesque to some, this practice underlies certain spiritual teachings about impermanence and the cycle of life/death.
If the Göbeklians truly practiced sky burials, it may provide us with clues about an ancient belief system that could have spread from ancient Anatolia all the way to the far East.
An Ancient Time Stamp?
While the vulture stone may reference sky burials on one level, it could also be telling us about an important historical event — also related to the dissolution of bodies.
A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh fed the depictions on the mysterious stone to a computer program concerning astronomy.
The program revealed that the various characters matched with symbols in the sky that were visible in 10 950 BC.
The researchers theorized that this was a sort of time stamp — meant to document something important, perhaps cataclysmic, that happened around this timeframe.
They figured that it most likely referred to the giant of meteor strikes of the hypothesized Younger Dryas event.
Göbekli Tepe and the Atlantis Connection
Prolific researchers of ancient civilizations, such as Graham Hancock (author of Fingerprints of the Gods), have talked a lot about a potentially-lost chapter in human history.
During these forgotten times, there seems to have existed a highly-evolved civilization of some kind.
Today, we often refer to this as Atlantis — a thriving culture that looks to have spanned a good portion of the globe.
Eventually, something disastrous happened to these advanced peoples — something big.
The Lost Survivors
Whether it was a shower of meteors or something else, Atlantis was more or less destroyed.
This supposed event, which is assumed to have taken place around 9600 BC, must have sunken a great deal of land and forcefully sent people away — either on to boats or to their watery graves.
Shortly after this period, we see a lot of ancient accounts of a big flood that swept over much of the Earth.
We also get numerous mentions of wise men that came from the sea.
Egypt, South America, and Sumer all have similar tales of “fish-men” that brought civilizational knowledge with them from somewhere else (like the Apkallu).
Mathematics, astronomy, masonry, agriculture — everywhere they went, these travelers propelled human development forward.
When we connect the dots, it looks like these mysterious people may actually have been refugees from the fallen Atlantis.
Unearthing Our Hidden Past
The fall of Atlantis would also explain why there seem to be remnants of an ancient culture that made its impact across the globe.
In South America, Egypt, Turkey, Sumer, Tibet…
Tales of “civilizing travelers”, the pyramidic structures, the advanced astronomy, the spiritual traditions, and more — so far apart, yet so many similarities.
Maybe the builders of Göbekli weren’t an outlier group of hunter-gatherers after all, but a displaced people from a bygone civilization.
As excavations are still ongoing, there could be plenty of answers, and questions, buried beneath the grounds of Göbekli Tepe.