Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oldest temple yet found

Here's a fascinating look at the excavation of the oldest temple yet--"Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?". It predates Stonehenge by millenia, and there's more time between it's construction and the Sumerians than there is between the Sumerians and us! Because archeological evidence found thus far indicates it was built by a hunter-gatherer society instead of an agricultural one, it's changing views on how civilizations come into being:
To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization. Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.

The immensity of the undertaking at Gobekli Tepe reinforces that view. Schmidt says the monuments could not have been built by ragged bands of hunter-gatherers. To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago. "This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later," says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. "You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies."

I would love to tour these ruins someday!

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