Archaeologists working in Turkey have uncovered a sister site to the ancient ceremonial complex at Göbekli Tepe—a somewhat smaller group of otherwise similar structures that may be even older than its more famous counterpart. And the two ancient sites are not alone: researchers have identified no less than 12 sites clustered around Turkey’s Harran Plain region that may be home to similar structures, all being roughly 11,000 years old.
Located just 37 kilometers (23 miles) east of Göbekli Tepe, Karahan Tepe was identified as a potential archeological site when ancient structures were discovered in 1997, but excavations there didn’t begin until 2019. To date, 250 obelisks featuring carved animal figures have been uncovered at Karahan Tepe, with most of them resembling the T-shaped columns found at Göbekli Tepe. Carvings of foxes, leopards, serpents and vultures are also featured, including one of a man that appears to be carrying a leopard on his back—perhaps an ancient shaman depicted along with his animal form?
One room has a floor constructed out of stone in a flattened Cyclopean style, a pattern made up of stones of different sizes and shapes and fitted together so that there is little to no space between them. A much larger amphitheater-like room—one larger than any of the rooms found at Göbekli Tepe—was excavated down into the bedrock, with the carved floor flattened and polished so that it appears as if it were a modern cement floor.
Attached to this is a sunken cavern that resembles a “Holy of Holies”, carved even further down into the same bedrock, but the artisans left a series of eleven columns—all carved from the bedrock, and not simply placed there—with what appears to be an artificially-carved water channel running along the surface of the bedrock running into the room from above. This room also features a carving of a large human head (once again, carved from the bedrock) looking out from a ledge above the tops of the columns.
Like Göbekli Tepe, the site at Karahan Tepe was filled in at some point with soil and rubble, preserving the columns and carvings found there throughout the intervening millennia. And since the announcement of the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, ten more sites across a region of southern Turkey that is being called “Taş Tepeler” (Turkish for “Stone Hills”) have been identified as hosting ancient structures, suggesting that these two sites may have been part of a larger complex of at least 12 ceremonial sites that dominated the region at the close of the Younger Dryas, 11,500 years into the past.
- Photographie aérienne montrant les principales zones de fouilles du site archéologique néolithique de Göbekli Tepe. Via Wikimedia Commons
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