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Gobeklitepe: The Garden of Eden?

View of Gobeklitepe temple
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Human beings were once wanderers that never got settled in one place. Thrown onto this planet, they treaded different paths, hunted down animals and moved on with their lives curiously in knowing more about the place they were thrown into. Slowly, they became sedentary and started living as communities that paved way for a number of civilizations to arise, each unique in its own way. Archaeologists have studied human civilizations for many years, but they were never stunned before like they were on a hot sunny day in 1994, when something peculiar was found in Gobeklitepe, 15 kms away from Sanliyurfa in Turkey.

Human beings have been thinking that agriculture put an end to the nomadic lifestyle of our early ancestors and ushered in settlements giving rise to cities, civilization, art and religion. Gobeklitepe has proven everything wrong. Instead, its the religion that has been the forerunner of civilizations, suggest the findings in Gobeklitepe.

An old Kurdish shepherd found some stones that he thought was significant as they looked at a prehistoric site known as Gobeklitepe in southeastern Turkey. Little did he know that the stone he found would shake up the world and its understanding about the origin of human beings and their civilization. This stone temple has been identified to be built 12000 years ago in 10,000 BC, a period during which no civilization and no religion existed, as we had thought. Gobeklitepe findings precede the Great pyramid of Giza by 7000 years and the Stonehenge by 6000 years and the structures were built before the practice of agriculture and invention of pottery. Thus, conveniently it can be said Gobeklitepe is the oldest temple that has ever been discovered.

Living a non-sedentary life, people have assembled together to built this temple moving 16-ton stones without any wheels or other possible means of transport invented. Ancient people who are wanderers that made lives out of hunting had joined at a place and had built such a huge structure that is considered impossible then by today’s researchers. The temple is circular in shape with two T-shaped megalith structures in the middle ,surrounded by stone pillars, each separated by a distance between 5 and 10 yards. The pillars have some inscriptions that include animals like lions, boars, ducks etc. There are nearly 45 such structures that have been unearthed so far and there are yet many more to be dug out reveal Geomagnetic surveys.

There have been questions if Gobeklitepe is the Garden of Eden specified in the Bible, as the site has led up to the origin of civilizations as a place for worship. The man who is responsible for all these discoveries, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt says that Gobeklitepe is not the Garden of Eden, but a temple in the Eden. There are few reasons this can be true. Klaus says that when people congregated at this site for worship, they were unable to feed all of them as there is not enough food available in the area. Hence they started farming at the hills.

Evidence also shows that the Anatolian plains is the first to have witnessed farming in history. Also, animals like goats and sheep were domesticated for the first time in Eastern Turkey. Wheat and other cereal crops were also found to be first cultivated in these Gobeklitepe hills. The arid area now is once fertile and lush, that would have made the Biblical authors consider it as the Garden of Eden. Eventually, human settlement made the site arid and hence the paradise was lost.

Biblically, our ancestors, Adam and Eve led a peaceful life in the lush green garden and then their sins made them lose the paradise.

When the paradise turned into a barren land, the inhabitants believed that the wrath of the creator is upon them and hence, they started giving human sacrifices. Evidence for such acts have been discovered in the same region. The architects of the temple finally decided to bury it under the earth and the reason still remains mysterious. It may be considered as an act to please the angry gods and regain their favor.

Whatever is the reason, the temple can be a tell that explains us how a paradise was lost. May be the human species has known it at the right time.

This article is written with reference to an opinion piece written by Tom Knox. Read the original article here.

Image credits: Vincent Musi, National Geographic

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