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Göbekli Tepe - oldest known sculptural workshop

Excavations reveal Gobekli Tepe had oldest known sculptural workshop

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Göbekli Tepe is a very ancient archaeological site located at the top of a mountain ridge in south-eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. Dating back at least 12,000 years, it is home to the oldest known temple in the world and has been intensively studied by archaeologists since its discovery nearly two decades ago.  According to a news release in Hurriyet Daily News, archaeologists have now announced that they believe it to be the oldest known sculptural workshop on the planet.

Göbekli Tepe is comprised of numerous temples made with pillars weighing between 40 and 60 tonnes and T-shaped stelas with intricate depictions of bulls, snakes, foxes, lions and other animals carved into the stone.  Yet the awe-inspiring site was supposedly built by ‘primitive’ Neolithic men who lacked sophisticated tools, causing speculation as to how it was built and why.

Göbekli Tepe - Turkey

Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is the oldest known temple in the world. Photo source: Wikimedia

Excavations at the site are being carried out by the German Archaeology Institute and the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry. Associate Professor Cihat Kürkçüoğlu from the nearby Harran University’s (HRU) Arts and History Department, said that they had found small ‘Venus figurines’ dating back up to 20,000 years. This is not actually unique as Venus figurines have been found throughout Europe dating back up to 30,000 years.  It is the age of the monumental sculptures that the archaeologists are particularly interested in. Nowhere else in the world are there known to be massive stone reliefs as old as in Göbekli Tepe.

An artist’s reconstruction of Gobekli Tepe

An artist’s reconstruction of Gobekli Tepe, showing T-shaped stelas in the centre. Illustration by Fernando Baptista

“Göbekli Tepe is the birthplace of plastic arts,” said Mr Kürkçüoğlu. “It is a temple but at the same time it’s the world’s oldest sculpture workshop. You expect primitive examples of stone sculptures but you find very improved, aesthetic and artistic sculptures. This surprised us greatly. Some compositions in Göbekli Tepe are even good enough to make today’s graphics jealous. As the archaeological excavations progress, I believe we will find older prototypes,” he said.

Göbekli Tepe has shown the world that Neolithic man was far more sophisticated than previously imagined. While the site is currently the oldest temple and sculptural workshop currently known to man, it is likely that there is much still beneath the surface that is yet to be revealed.

Featured image: Stone reliefs found at Göbekli Tepe. Credit: Vincent J Musi/National Geographic

By April Holloway



Does anyone know what the indentations in the top of the stones are?

Hugh Newman's picture

Andrew Collins, author of Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods , and Hugh Newman are leading a 5-day tour To Gobekli Tepe, Karahan Tepe, Urfa Museum and more in May and September:



Every time I see the T shape structures, the same thought goes through my mind "where is the roof?"
The two T shaped structures look like supports for a Ramada roof.
This is obviously antediluvian technology, and it was forgotten because only eight people lived through that flood.
I would guess that these so called temples were where orgies and other darker rituals were performed. There are lots of "temples" because there were many people involved in the orgies. The more people involved, the more sites were needed.
It would also appear that there was pagan worship of animals.
I would like to know if the paired T structures are all arranged in similar patterns, like on a east west line, or north south, or something more astronomical. Or is there no pattern?

angieblackmon's picture

Can this punishment of forgetting all of these awesome skills be over now? I'm so ready to get back to where we were thousands of years ago!!! Also, the T shaped pillars remind me of what holds up highways....same/similar design! Wonder where they got it! 

love, light and blessings


I agree with you.. The Egyptian priest told of the many times the world had been destroyed and man was left to forget all knowledge. I don't know if some people could accept that but I do.


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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