First Came the Temple, Then the City

A bird's eye view of Göbeklitepe excavations.

*This article was originally written and published in July 2016 at UNICEF Voices of Youth’s former website. It has since been moved here.


           In my hometown we often talk about the unappreciated and underrated treasures of our country. I frequently find myself in such conversations, and the one that led me to write this post was about Göbeklitepe, a pre-historic site in Southeastern Turkey. Known to be “the oldest temple of the world”, Göbeklitepe is dated back to Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period (c. 9600–7300 BC). The peculiarity of the Göbeklitepe site lies in that it contradicts what the studies archeology and history have taken as gospel. 


            The relics predate the Neolithic Revolution that is said to have transformed the human cultures and lifestyles of the period from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. The current historical and archeological paradigm rests that civilization was followed by faith. The discoveries at Göbeklitepe suggest a contrasting account of history. It indicates that civilization emanated from the human concept of divinity, and not the other way around. As the leader of the excavations at the site in question, Klaus Schmidt put it this way: “first came the temple, then the city.”  


            The findings have evidential value as any social scientist would have to acknowledge. The discovery and examination of Göbeklitepe is a revolutionary development in the sense that it is the one anomaly in the current historical framework. History as we know it, consists of many different accounts, but all accounts agree on the fundamental points and vary only in terms of details. No findings or accounts have been known to challenge the framework in which all historians work today. Göbeklitepe is just that: the findings that will create a paradigm shift.


            The excavations that began in 1995 presented us with evidence that rebut our basic understanding of human history, and yet it didn’t make much noise around the world. The archeological findings deconstruct the tale we all have read in our primary school history books, the one about the prehistoric ages. It might very well challenge our whole conception of history implicitly. 


            Historians are shutting their eyes to the implications of Göbeklitepe excavations right now, insisting on their current account of the history of man. It won’t hold because the evidence is right there for the ones who want to see. We must recognize the fact that all we know, or think that we know, can be refuted by a single fundamental change. We still have so much to discover about the universe and the mankind. Holding on to something that has proven to be faulty, won’t make the truth go away. 

Republic of Türkiye