Archaeologists unearth ancient settlement dating back 11,800 years in Turkey
On Thursday in south-eastern Turkey, an ancient historic site dating back to 11,800 years was discovered.
The area has been home to many different civilizations including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Urartians, Romans, Akkadians, Sumerians and Ottoman civilizations. This region belongs to the province of Mardin.
As part of a project to document and rescue cultural sites in the Dargecit district when they came across the 11,800-year-old sewer system and over two dozen architectural artifacts. found by Archeologist Ergul Kodas & his team.
There are currently 15 restorers and archaeologists and 50 staff in the area designated by Turkish authorities as a cultural and historical site.
Kodas, the head of the excavation team, said the historical site was inhabited for a long period around 9800 B.C. and that there were eight-story historical buildings reaching up to seven meters in height.
He noted that the sewer system was the oldest known in history, saying: “We were only able to unearth a certain portion of the sewer system, and confirmed it was [located] in a public use area.”
On Oct.31, an ancient temple estimated to be over 11,000 years old — which belongs almost to the same period as Gobeklitepe, the famed “oldest temple in the world” located in southeastern Sanliurfa province of Turkey — was found at the same excavation site.
11,000-year-old ancient temple found in eastern Turkey
In the form of the famous and controversial Góbekli Tepe, Archaeologists have uncovered a Temple from the Neolithic Age with 3 almost intact stelae.
In southeast Turkey’s Mardin province, the ancient temple was unearthed in Dargeçit’s district of Ilısu, which archeologists say has now turned 11,300 years old.
The scientific adviser for excavations at the Bencuklu Tarla (Beaded Field), the earliest known human settlement in the city, is Ergül Kodaş. Investigated from the Archeology Department of Mardin Artuklu University.
He told the press that this ancient spiritual center was active in the same era as the famous Göbekli Tepe which is considered the birthplace of early civilization and the oldest temple on earth.
Earliest Known Settlement at the Mini Göbekli Tepe
Dr. Kodaş and his team of archaeologists discovered that the 11,000-year-old temple walls were made of rubble and held in place with a hardened clay base, but they haven’t yet reached the base of the structure.
It is estimated that it might take at least a month to reach into the sacred building’s foundations. According to a report in Daily Sabah, within the excavation site, the archaeologists found four stone stelae, three of which were described as being “very well preserved” but “no figurative inscription” were found on any of the four stelae.
This 861 square foot (80 square meters) temple shares certain features with Göbekli Tepe and a Hürriyet report says “intense work” has been carried out in a large area which also includes the site known as Boncuklu Tarla (Beaded Field), the earliest known human settlement in Mardin which was discovered in 2008 during a field survey.
Ancient Finds In The Beaded Field
Erdoğan said that it was in the Aceramic Neolithic period that the “first sedentary society” emerged and that artifacts from this phase have been found in only a handful of places in Anatolia with “ stone or bone tools and weapons, ornamental items, and the first resident villages”.
However, there are further ancient sites which when interpreted with the new discovery reveal the building traditions of the ancient architects.
A 2017 Daily Sabah article says archaeological excavations conducted by Mardin Museum Director Nihat Erdoğan and his team in the Boncuklu Tarla settlement uncovered the buildings, cultures, social lives, and burial traditions of the people who lived in northern Mesopotamia during the Aceramic Neolithic period between 10,000 BC to 7,000 BC. And just like this new discovery, their buildings had “rubble stone walls with foundations hardened by clay”.
Göbekli Tepe: Crown Of The Ancient World
While the discovery of this new temple adds volumes to our understanding of the religious and spiritual traditions of our forebears, it falls short of the mystique contained within Göbekli Tepe, the most ancient temple structure ever discovered.
This ancient site in southeastern Turkey is changing the way archaeologists think about the origins of human civilization and within its circular structure of elaborately carved T-shaped pillars dating to over 12,000 years ago, it is not only older than the invention of pottery, but it was built before agriculture was even conceived.
According to National Geographic the early dates associated with Göbekli Tepe “have upended the idea that agriculture led to civilization” because scholars had long thought hunter-gatherers had settled and began growing crops providing food surplus”, making it possible for complex societies to emerge, but no evidence of a permanent agricultural settlement at Göbekli Tepe has ever been discovered.
This leads many scientists to settle on the idea that because the temple is situated on the top of a hill commanding views southwards over plains, it was “a regional gathering place”.
A Cathedral Of Deep History?
Jens Notroff, a German Archaeological Institute archaeologist who works at Göbekli Tepe, says “back then”, 12,000 years ago, people would have to meet regularly to keep “the gene pool fresh” and to exchange information.
Now, with smaller versions of the pillars, symbols, and architecture of Göbekli Tepe being found, does this mean Göbekli Tepe was similar in function to Ness of Brodgar on Orkney; a vast Neolithic cathedral serving regional churches ( temples)?
Forgetting Ness of Brodgar was built around 3,000 BC while Göbekli Tepe was active before 12,000 BC, both buildings were early spiritual landmarks, spiritual sentinels, and organized spaces in wild and unpredictable landscapes.
Maybe the most successful hunter-gatherer groups met at Göbekli Tepe on key dates through the year, with each one having its own local monumental structure for feasts and to display the first excesses resources – wealth.
7,000-year-old Fortress Found Under the Yumuktepe Mound, Turkey
At the Yumuktepe mound in southern Turkey’s Mersin province, a fortress wall dating back 7000 years from the Chalcolithic period was unlodged.
As an ongoing settlement 9,000 years since the neolithic era, the Yumuktepe Mound is extremely important.
Two and a half months of excavations at the mound are coming to an end on Friday.
In this year’s excavations, a group of 30 people led by Isabella Caneva-a professor of archeology at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy – focused on Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods
Caneva said that the 7-meter fortress wall discovered this season can now be shown to the public.
While every year’s excavations have provided historical insights, this year’s dig produced especially “striking” Neolithic and Chalcolithic findings, Caneva said.
Caneva said the layer in Yumuktepe Mound is special in that it contains very special architecture.
The fortress wall was made with a variety of materials, including a 1.5-meter-thick support wall made of limestone at the bottom, 2 meters of well-cut stones and 3 meters of mudbrick.
Previous excavations had discovered the existence of the castle, dating back to 5,000 B.C., but the team did not uncover the wall until this season’s deeper dig in the area.
“We didn’t know that there was such technology in that period in technical terms. Now we see it and it’s a special structure.
There was certainly a special product being made there because a normal village would not require such a thick and solid wall,” Caneva said, explaining that the village is the oldest site in the world known to produce molten copper.
“This is a very important product. Later on, there was a war for metal. It was an important technology and a valuable substance. Tools, flashy objects and weapons were all made with copper,” she said.
The team also discovered that homes in the Neolithic period were built in a certain way, continuously constructed on top of one another, for 2,000 years.
Caneva expressed hopes that the site will be developed into an open-air museum for visitors in the future.
In Turkey during archaeological excavations in the ancient Greek town of Assos on the Anatolian shore, 2,200-year-old statue of a lion from the Hellenist Age and an Early Byzantine oven were found.
Assos, in the Ayvacik District, Canakkale Province, in Northwest Turkey, right across from the large Greek island of Lesbos, was a major Ancient Greek city-state, and a major Antiquity port.
It was also called “Apollonia”, after god Apollo, not unlike the predecessor of Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol, the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica.
The sculpture of the lion from the 2nd century BC was discovered in excavations of a complex in ancient Assos which used to be an inn during the Hellenistic period, says lead archaeologist Nurettin Arslan, reports Hurriyet Daily News citing Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
Excavations in Assos were also carried in agoras, or ancient city centers of Byzantine structures added Arslan, who is a professor heading the archeology department at Onsekiz Mart University in Canakkale.
Another intriguing discovery is a 1,500-year-old stone oven dating back to the early period of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) also unearthed during the excavations in the area.
“One of the structures contained a find which was used at that time as a cooking stove with three pots,” Arslan reveals, adding that the well-preserved stove shines a light on the daily life of the Byzantine era.
The current excavations in the ancient city of Assos in Northwest Turkey began in July 2019, with a team of 25 people, and are set to be completed in October.
Turkish archeologists have been carrying out uninterrupted excavations in the Ancient Greek and medieval Byzantine city since 1981.
Assos was first studied after American researchers back in the 1800s.
Situated on a rocky hill overlooking the Aegean Sea, 17 kilometers south of Ayvacik, ancient Assos was accepted to the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage back in April 2017.
Inside The Mysterious Gobekli Tepe, The Oldest Temple In The World
More than 200 carved stone pillars, carefully arranged in tightly packed circles, stood proudly on the Göbekli Tepe hill in southeastern Anatolia (modern Turkey).
This ancient stone circle, thought to be a Neolithic temple, is 6,000 years older than Stonehenge and much more complex. This is the site some historians call the twentieth century’s most important archeological find and the first temple in the world.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, Göbekli Tepe was first discovered in 1994 by Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute. The area around the site had long been earmarked for further investigation, as its dome-shaped hill bore all the signs of a “tell”, a mound created as a result of the deposits of ancient settlements.
Schmidt quickly realized that the site at Göbekli Tepe was far more significant than the medieval burial site hypothesized by earlier archaeologists. In an interview with Andrew Curry for Smithsonian Magazine, Schmidt explained that it didn’t take his team long to uncover the first series of stone megaliths, close to the surface.
Digging deeper, the archaeologists unearthed more pillars, decorated with elaborately carved figures. These immense standing stones were arranged in circles and would have supported additional huge stone blocks, some of which weighed more than 10 tons.
Erecting these stone pillars and placing such heavy blocks on top of them would have required an immense feat of engineering. Yet the site was constructed in 9,500 BC, thousands of years before the development of written language and agriculture, and well before human beings began to develop permanent settlements and cities.
“This is the first human-built holy place,” said Schmidt. The archaeologists were able to date Göbekli Tepe by comparing weapons and tools found at the site to similar objects from the 10th millennium BC, and their hypotheses were later confirmed by partial radiocarbon dating.
The team found no traces of human settlement around the site: no remains of houses, ovens or trenches for rubbish. Instead, they found many animal bones within the temple, which bore the signs of having been butchered and cooked. All of the animal bones excavated came from local game, predominately gazelle, boar, sheep, deer and wild fowl, which suggests that the people who made and used the site were nomadic hunter-gatherers.
The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has major implications for our understanding of the way in which early human societies developed. Traditional scholars have long maintained that the development of sophisticated human society was contingent on the transition from a hunter-gatherer to agrarian way of life.
According to this narrative, it was only once humans had developed permanent settlements and systems of agriculture and farming that they were able to have the time, organization and resources to develop temples and complicated social structures.
Although this theory has been challenged by archaeologists and anthropologists in recent decades, the discovery of Göbekli Tepe finally provides hard evidence to support an alternative point of view. Nomadic, hunter-gatherer societies in Anatolia constructed large, complex temples before they developed agricultural practices and formed permanently settled communities.
Indeed, according to Smithsonian Magazine, in the 1,000 years following the construction of the temple, permanent settlements do appear in other parts of Anatolia and northern Syria, providing some of the earliest evidence for the cultivation of wheat crops and the domestication of cattle. It is possible that the construction of the temple at Göbekli Tepe was actually the precursor for human settlement and agriculture, not the other way around.
However, the specific function of the site at Göbekli Tepe remains a mystery. Until his death in 2014, Schmidt remained convinced that it was an important religious temple, and his view is supported by the elaborate carvings on the pillars. These include images of scorpions, lions, snakes, and vultures, a collection of symbols that are associated with religion, death and the afterlife in other ancient cultures of the Near East.
The site could also have been used as a place for political gatherings or cultural celebrations, but Schmidt argued that it was more likely to have been a burial place for renowned hunters.