The northern hemisphere of the Earth was covered with huge glaciers when a group of hunter-gatherers in southern Turkey began building a structure known as the world's first temple. The place called Gobekli Tepe, was built approximately 12,000 years ago, and some of its parts, according to scientists, are stillolder. This ancient temple has proven to be so vast and complex that archaeologists have been busy excavating since its opening in 1994. Research has uncovered strange animal images, tall stone pillars, and the earliest known evidence of religious rituals. But, despite all these years of work, scientists still cannot answer one question: who built it and why?
The world's first observatory
Göbekli Tepe's appearance and age for decadescaptured the imagination of archaeologists. They have been featured in the press and documentaries, and countless conspiracy theories have been built, from aliens to claims of ancient, technologically advanced civilizations. Some scientists who are not associated with the main excavation group suggest that Göbekli Tepe was in fact an astronomical observatory.
There are at least two pieces of evidence that thisthe temple was used to study the sky. Firstly, it was ideally built for observing celestial bodies, with its domed shape and flat surface. Most likely, the observatory was mainly used to observe the star Sirius, because the locals worshiped it, like other cultures in the region thousands of years later.
In addition, some of the carvings at Göbekli Tepe depict the impact of a comet that hit the Earth at the end of the Ice Age.
If at least one of these statements is true, they will make Göbekli Tepe not only the oldest temple, but also the oldest observatory in the world.
While scientists can not unequivocally answer thisquestion. For over 25 years, researchers have struggled to re-establish the temple's columns in their original place, but the original layout of this stunning building remains a matter of debate. This makes it impossible for archaeologists to know for sure whether Göbekli Tepe had any astronomical significance.
What is Göbekli Tepe?
This amazing place is in the centerFertile Crescent, a region of the Middle East historically considered the birthplace of agriculture and writing. However, Göbekli Tepe was built before people in this region started farming.
At first glance, Göbekli Tepe looks likean ordinary hill. It was first explored in the 1960s, when a few meager stone structures were discovered at the top of the hill, but then they turned back because they thought there was nothing there. In 1994, when Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute was finishing excavations in a nearby settlement, he decided to re-explore the top of the Göbekli Tepe hill.
In the years that followed, the staggering scale of its discovery became apparent. The whole hill was built by people. All this mud hides dozens of buildings scattered across an area about 500 meters wide.
The discovery shocked the archaeological community because Göbekli Tepe could not have been built by farmers. At that time, agriculture did not yet exist. Besides, no domesticated animals or metal instruments it was almost impossible.
Most of the pillars of the structure are decorateddecorative carvings with images of animals such as snakes, foxes, wild boars, birds and other creatures. People believed that all living things have spirits, and they worshiped them.
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Was Göbekli Tepe an observatory?
But why did people need at that timeto use such a structure as an astronomical observatory? Not long before its construction, the era of the late Dryas began - the final stage of the last glaciation. The reason for its beginning has not yet been known, but several findings of scientists at once indicate that a global decrease in temperature could begin after the fall of a huge comet.
There are drawings in Göbekli Tepe that scientistsassociated with this event. Most likely, the architectural structure became a monument to an ancient catastrophe - it depicts a decapitated man, symbolizing the suffering and death of people after the alleged fall of the comet.
In 2017, archaeologists said they had found a columnwhich depicts a variety of animals - scientists have suggested that the drawings and their location correspond to the astronomical constellations. The so-called Vulture Stone, carved into a pillar at Göbekli Tepe, is believed to be the "date stamp" of the comet's catastrophic impact 13,000 years ago.
It appears that Göbekli Tepe was, among other things, an observatory for observing the night sky, ”says Martin Sweetman, a chemical engineer at the University of Edinburgh andlead author of the study. “One of its pillars served as a memorial to this devastating event - probably the worst day in history since the end of the Ice Age.
And although there is still no conclusive evidencethe fact that Göbekli Tepe was built as an astronomical object does not mean that it was not. Archaeologists are confident that evidence of the temple's alleged connection with the stars is still buried beneath the sand. And they will find him.