So, over the last few years, reading various books, articles, etc., written by different people, during different centuries (or millenia), about all kinds of different topics- mythology, history, religion, archaeology, etc.- I have come to believe that area that makes up modern Turkey is basically the centre of the world, in that it has been a place where all kinds of important milestones in western civilization (and beyond?) have happened. Maybe I came across this stuff before living in Turkey, but I didn’t pay any attention to it. Now that we live here, it seems like the Turkey-as-the-centre-of-EVERYTHING theme keeps popping up all around me!
Anyway, I stumbled upon this latest example in an article from Smithsonian.com about an 11,000 year old temple, quite possibly the world’s oldest, found at Göbekli Tepe: , near the city of Urfa in south-west Turkey. It’s been under excavation for about a decade and it’s believed that only a tiny fraction of the site has actually been uncovered, so there’s still a ton left for archaeologists to discover!
The article mentions that, in contrast to what the landscape around this hilltop temple looks like today after hundreds of years of intensive agriculture in the area, at the time it was build it would have been surrounded by a virtual paradise; lush fields of wild wheat and barley, herds of gazelle, fruit and nut trees, life-giving rivers and streams. It would have been a beautiful and epic surrounding for this holy site.
The article describes some of the archaeologists theories about the site and a bit about the hunter-gatherer people who would have constructed it, as well as mentioning some interesting features of the monuments, such as the carvings of creatures like scorpions, vultures, and other dangerous predators and scavengers. Fascinating stuff. It would be an amazing place to visit before we someday leave Turkey.
It’s in travelling around Turkey and reading articles like this that I feel renewed enthusiasm for living here and having the great opportunity to experience bits of this rich culture, both past and present. It’s certainly great fortune to get to live at the centre of the world, even if only for a few years!