A fascinating article about a fascinating place. If you have Google Earth installed, enter ‘Gobekli Tepe, Turkey’ to check it out from the air.

For the old Kurdish shepherd, it was just another burning hot day in the rolling plains of eastern Turkey. Following his flock over the arid hillsides, he passed the single mulberry tree, which the locals regarded as ‘sacred’. The bells on his sheep tinkled in the stillness. Then he spotted something. Crouching down, he brushed away the dust, and exposed a strange, large, oblong stone.

The man looked left and right: there were similar stone rectangles, peeping from the sands. Calling his dog to heel, the shepherd resolved to inform someone of his finds when he got back to the village. Maybe the stones were important.
To date, 45 of these stones have been dug out – they are arranged in circles from five to ten yards across – but there are indications that much more is to come. Geomagnetic surveys imply that there are hundreds more standing stones, just waiting to be excavated.

So far, so remarkable. If Gobekli Tepe was simply this, it would already be a dazzling site – a Turkish Stonehenge. But several unique factors lift Gobekli Tepe into the archaeological stratosphere – and the realms of the fantastical.

The first is its staggering age. Carbon-dating shows that the complex is at least 12,000 years old, maybe even 13,000 years old.

That means it was built around 10,000BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built in 3,000 BC and the pyramids of Giza in 2,500 BC.

Gobekli is thus the oldest such site in the world, by a mind-numbing margin. It is so old that it predates settled human life. It is pre-pottery, pre-writing, pre-everything. Gobekli hails from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, right back in our hunter-gatherer past.

  1. Dallas says:

    Perfect place for a Hard Rock Cafe or something.

    If they find dinosaur bones, then the debate of man riding dinosaurs to work is settled and Prof Sarah Palin’s research is vindicated.

  2. BillM says:

    Ok, I looked at all the pictures on Google Earth. One question…..what the hell were the sheep grazing on!!

  3. bobbo says:

    How can anyplace be the site of a mythical place?

    The linked article makes the same claim and further that “‘Gobekli Tepe is the most important archaeological site in the world.’ but all it is “actually” is an early site of permanent human use.

    Actually, this factoid is almost meaningless in importance. Teaches us nothing we didn’t already know except for a specific location? Whoop!!

    Its nice. Should be reported. But must everything be sensationalized???

  4. Dugger says:

    The date, 10,000 BC impresses me. Thank you for sharing this on DU. It’s sad, this type of news doesn’t get more attention.

  5. RBG says:

    Finally the definitive proof of extraterrestrial visitations we have all been waiting for.


  6. Buzz says:

    …or it could be the site of a 13,000 year old brothel. Or the site of an alien landing pad. Or the site of an ancient produce market.

    Garden of Eden, get in line.

  7. bobbo says:


    Congitive Bias (n):

    A requirement that an idea make sense before it is given serious consideration.

  8. ArianeB says:

    The Garden of Eden claim is based on mythical parallels. The reason this site is preserved is because somebody buried it by hand. Thus the residents were kicked out. This is not any biblical proof or anything.

    What makes this significant is its age. Only the cave paintings in southern France date to the stone age.

    Part of the reason stone age settlements are extremely rare is that during the ice age, the coastlines were far lower in elevation than today, and most stone age people kept close to the sea.

    I find it fascinating how artistically skilled stone age people were even prior to written language.

  9. Ramses says:

    In NYC the other night I went out for a walk and came upon Cleopatra’s Needle which is a 4,500 year-old Egyptian obelisk that what brought from Egypt in the 19th Century.

    This obelisk was erected in the home town of Moses (yeah the same guy who parted the Red Sea and saw God). But although the Red Sea today is different from the Red Sea that Moses parted because the molecules are different, the monolith has remained essentially the same as when Moses laid his eyes upon them. Those same eyes that looked upon the Needle 4,500 years ago and your eyes looking upon it now… you are one degree from God.

  10. JimR says:

    This might be a spot where God nailed the earth together. The bent one by the ladder could be where he hit his thumb.

    I’m just sayin’…

  11. Nimby says:

    “How can anyplace be the site of a mythical place?” Thank you, Bobbo. That was the first thing that caught my attention.

    People were walking into North America twenty some thousand years ago. Kind of tough to make a case for this place to be the Garden of Mythical Eden.

    I’m sure this site will give us some terrific insights in that era but it’s hardly the beginnings of mankind. There was a sculpture found in Europe somewhere that is much older. I think it was 30,000 years old or so. Sculpture implies culture implies community.

    This is an important find – it does not need to be sensationalized.

    Alfred1 – so you’re saying all animals were vegetarians before the mythical flood? Care to speculate as to the diet of T-Rex? Ever seen a fossil of a pre-flood lion that had teeth suitable for a herbivore?

    I didn’t know we had any full-blood creationists following this blog. So, you think god changes the laws of physics now and then, huh? What a joker he/she/it is. I guess your textbooks refer to them as the “suggestions” of physics.

  12. Carcarius says:

    Meh,… 10,000 BC – Hollywood beat them to it last year when they made a movie out of it.

  13. fw says:

    I call BS on this whole thing.
    As several others has already stated that calling it the garden of Eden is simply hog dreams by believers.

    “Oh look at those footprints in the hard mud, must be from Adam and Eve”

    The dig itself may be a hoax, the stones seems wherry sharp edged and squarish for such old construction.

    Then again the stone in question may be not so hard, and perhaps covered so protected from wind, sun and rain.

  14. B.Dog says:

    Thanks for the info about a fascinating site. I find it very interesting that the climate in that area changed because of agriculture. It would be good to see the area nice again.

  15. eyeofthetiger says:

    Garden of Eden. Looks like it.

  16. Ren says:

    Um, from a biblical perspective, this can’t be the garden of eden…

    We were kicked out and it was sealed away, this is very interesting, but I don’t understand the mental jump that made them consider this eden.

    From an unbeliever’s perspective there is nothing to find so this can’t be it. From a believer’s, it isn’t supposed to found so it won’t… where do you go from there?

  17. Steve says:

    Looks to me to be an old drive-through restaurant.
    Maybe pre-E.coli Jack In The Box.

  18. Floyd says:

    #16: “Garden of rocks” is more like it. I doubt very much if the site has any connection with anything but the people who laid out the stones.

  19. Ah_Yea says:

    Here is some additional info:

    “Schmidt speculates that the site played a key function in the transition to agriculture; he assumes that the necessary social organization needed for the creation of these structures went hand-in-hand with the organized exploitation of wild crops.”

    Apparently this is the earliest known site of the transition from Hunter-gatherer to Agricultural community.

    Therein lies the significance. It may not have been the Garden of Eden, but it sure would have seemed like Paradise to have enough to eat.

    An interesting read.

  20. Floyd says:

    #16: “Garden of rocks” is more like it, or a very old mini-Stonehenge. I doubt very much if the site has any connection with anything but the people who laid out the stones.

  21. somecalmetim says:

    Of course this isn’t the garden of Eden, but if they didn’t “Sensationalize” it, we would never hear about stories like this even on a blog like this one…maybe in a couple of years it would have made a sideline in a documentary on Discovery Channel but you have to “Pimp” it up to compete with Britney and the “O Bomb”…

  22. Dallas says:

    If they find the remains of two guys, a snake and an apple, then Adam and Steve did in fact exist.

    Of course, this will all be swept under the rug again like when Moses dropped and busted 5 of the 15 commandments. Shameful.

  23. JimR says:

    Those rocks look like ancient turnstiles. Perhaps there was an amusement fee to enter the Garden of Eden.

  24. homehive says:

    If I were the editor of Dvorak’s headlines, I would have changed it to “MAY BE THE SITE OF IMAGINARY GARDEN OF EDEN”. — Remember John, you’re writing a TECHNOLOGY blog not a comic book.

  25. Uncle Dave says:

    #25: For the who-knows-how-manyith-time, this is not, never has been, never will be a “technology blog.”

  26. Hugh Ripper says:

    Archaeologist will say all kinds of crap about the significance of thier sites in order to get funding. Its rather shocking that those seemingly harmless beardie weirdies could be so shameless.

  27. Uncle Patso says:

    The author of the article is not an archaeologist or a science reporter, but a novelist, so it makes sense that the story is quite dramatically written.

    In the full article, he mentions speculation about the reason people went from hunting & gathering to agriculture, but he left out my favorite hypothesis: the invention of beer!

  28. ChrisB says:

    In case everyone missed it, this is mostly a promo for his book about the subject. Of course it’s full of hyperbole, he’s trying to sell copies.

  29. Hugh Ripper says:

    #32 Alfred1

    – “there can be no denying the significance of the site…”

    I’m denying it. Wanna fight about it? My experience is that whenever an archaeological site is linked to anything biblical, the authors are after funding.

    – “Archeologists stopped assuming the Bible was historically inaccurate…long ago…that factoid has yet to trickle down…”

    Which archeologists? All of em? They have reached consensus? Incredible! When I was an archaeology undergrad most of em had trouble agreeing on lunch.

    – “Get ready for your golden shower.”

    but we’ve only just met…

  30. Nimby says:

    Alfred1 – “Archeologists stopped assuming the Bible was historically inaccurate…long ago” Which bible would that be, Alfie? The Torah? The Apocrypha? Oh, oh, I know: the infallible King James Version, revised. Take a reality break. Archaeologists have realized that the stories (fables, myths, etc) in any bible, may have an historical link or even a basis in fact. But to go that extra parsec and claim it is an historically accurate document is simply laughable.


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