Read aloud 11, 000 years ago, hunters and gatherers built a house for their gods in southeastern Turkey. The prehistoric settlement mound Göbekli Tepe proves that the Stone Age man made the first steps towards culture and art not in Palestine or Mesopotamia, but in Anatolia. The gods are getting older too. German archaeologists are digging out the earliest home of the supernatural. Address on earth: Southeastern Anatolia, Urfa region. Start of construction: at least 11000 years before today. At that time, people still fed on berries and bears and could not even burn clay to ceramics. And as the Celestials determine the fate of the earthly, the course of human history is revised - the decisive steps toward civilization, people apparently not in the Levant (Palestine) or Mesopotamia, but in the southeastern tip of today's Turkey.
Until now, the bible-known Jericho in Palestine and the mythical Çatal Höyük in Central Anatolia had served as witnesses to the so-called Neolithic Revolution. With this epochal upheaval, humanity had taken the first step towards civilization and culture: hunters and gatherers became farmers who raised crops, raised animals, built proper houses, and lived in permanent settlements that later became the home of the people Cities emerged. Above all, the denotation "Settlement and house building" became archeological dogma. It has been shaken for quite some time, now it is toppled: On the Göbekli Tepe, a prehistoric settlement mound in the southeast of Turkey near Sanliurfa (formerly Urfa), dr. Klaus Schmidt for six years, a huge cult system dating to 9000 BC. Chr. Was built. The builders and users - and that is the sensation - were still a pure hunter and gatherer community.
Göbekli Tepe has been known since the sixties, Klaus Schmidt first recognized his importance in 1994. During a survey, he stumbled over massive, machined and partially carved limestone slabs that lay around on the ground. From the "reading stone walls" to which the peasants pile up piles, he picked up fragments of stone sculptures. Lots of processed pieces of flint littered the hill. With the knowledge of Nevali Çori in mind, it was clear to Schmidt that there was something exciting under the field.
The spade work quickly brought walls and T-pillars to light. None of this had been said about the earth - a unique stroke of luck for the archaeologists: after eleven thousand years, they lifted unharmed works of art from the Palaeolithic era into the present. The "primitive" hunter-gatherers who lived in the general language obviously did not only live from hand to mouth, but had a sense of something higher. Transcendental so coupled with craftsmanship and artistic claim on the border between Paleolithic (Paleolithic: hunter and gatherer societies) and Neolithic (Neolithic: farmers and cattle breeders).
Some of the excavated pillars, despite being three meters high, are lower than the surrounding walls. Thus, the relief-decorated columns did not necessarily serve as bearers of a roof; they could, according to one possible interpretation, be a kind of totem pole of the community or a clan. Schmidt does not yet recognize a personalized deity, but the appeal to a non-earthly being, that is, religiosity, seems certain to him.
Concretely around 7500 BC Chr. Is abruptly ended with the colonization and use of Göbekli Tepe. Strange happens: The huge cult place is buried, the grandiose plants are filled up including pillars and sculptures. What happened? Schmidt shrugs and offers as an interpretation: The religious world has changed, the rites of collectors and hunters have become meaningless, new cultic forms appear.
Why did not one come to the crucial interim period earlier - when man could not yet pottery, when collectors and hunters lived from hand to mouth, yet still layering large buildings into settlements and producing art? The answer is at the same time a piece of scientific history. It shows that the researcher usually finds what he knows: the Holy Land was known through the biblical reports, often the scientific ambition was to "prove" the Bible. So Jericho was found with its huge walls. Without much argument the place on the Jordan was stylized as the first large settlement of humanity. Other human settlements of prehistory were sought and found, logically enough, in the fertile river valleys of Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates.
Everything logical and documented - but what was before? Only dull-thinking creature, eager to satisfy everyday needs? With this question archaeologists moved to the fringes of the Fertile Crescent at the beginning of the sixties - and were promptly found: On the slopes of the mountain ranges Zagros and Taurus, they discovered several sites of a highly developed stone age culture before agriculture and sedentary culture created.
But: The highly developed cultural consciousness of the Aceramic Paleolithic eruptions completely breaks away with the sedentary nature. Hardly any akeramische settlement takes place in the ceramic Neolithikum a continuation. "The splendor of the old cult centers with the stone sculptures and the variety of animal representations disappears, everything is overburdened" (Hauptmann). The old gods are being replaced. Is the Akeramic Stone Age culture the endpoint of a development? Or is it the beginning of something new, which comes to light later and elsewhere, so that relationships can not yet be recognized?

Michael Zick


Recommended Editor'S Choice