Researchers in Turkey are about to embark on an excavation at the ancient site of Karahan Tepe and they believe it’s much older than Göbekli Tepe, the famous “zero point of world history.” Until now, like yesterday, if you were to ask any professor of history or even a self-respecting armchair archaeologist to name the oldest monument ever discovered, they would all have said Göbekli Tepe. But now, that answer might be Karahan Tepe, and this is creating a lot of excitement in archaeological circles.
Karahan Tepe Is Said To Be Much Older Than Göbekli Tepe
Archaeologists have been working at the Karahan Tepe site, which is often called the sister site of Göbekli Tepe , since 1997. The site is located near Yağmurlu and roughly 35 kilometers east of the 12,000-year-old Göbekli Tepe site.
Over the years, archaeologists have made a series of amazing discoveries at the Karahan Tepe site. In particular, tons of buried T-shaped obelisks, similar to the ones carved with wild animals at Göbekli Tepe, have led researchers to conclude that Karahan Tepe “is much older,” than its “younger sister,” Göbekli Tepe.
Archaeologists have already found animal carvings at Karahan Tepe similar to the well-known Vulture Stone and others at Göbekli Tepe. (Sue Fleckney / CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Head of excavations at Karahan Tepe, Professor Dr. Necmi Karul, told Hurriyet that “12 spots estimated to be in the same period as Göbekli Tepe are known in the region, one of which is Karahan Tepe.”
Speaking at the 10th International Resort Tourism Congress , Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said that an “intensive and rapid excavation program” continues in Karahan Tepe, which to date has yielded “250 obelisks featuring animal figures.” Ersoy claims the planned excavations will prove the settlement at Karahan Tepe “will be much older that the 12,000 year old Göbekli Tepe.”
The ongoing excavations at Karahan Tepe will likely reveal more T-shaped obelisks at the center of the site like these at Göbekli Tepe. ( Joaquin / Adobe Stock)
Karahan Tepe May Reset “The Zero Point Of World History”
The mayor of Haliliye, Mehmet Canpolat, told Hurriyet that there are many similarities between Karahan Tepe and Göbekli Tepe, which he said “shed light on world history ,” representing the first known temple ever built.
A 2016 National Geographic article recounted the fascinating story of the discovery and preservation of Göbekli Tepe. Professor Klaus Schmidt, a German archaeologist who led excavations at the site, argued before he died in 2014 that “a vast labor force needed to build the enclosures” and that this construction project “pushed people to develop agriculture as a way of providing predictable food—and perhaps drink—for workers.”
At the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Turkey’s Doğuş Group announced that they planned to spend “$15 million over the next 20 years” in partnership with the National Geographic Society on the Göbekli Tepe site. And Doğuş Group chairman, Ferit F. Şahenk, said in a press release that the reason so much cash was being spent on Göbekli Tepe was because this prehistoric temple was the “zero point in time.”
Karahan Tepe May Well Be Göbekli Tepe’s Older Sister!
While Göbekli Tepe holds the world record in media headlines and elsewhere as the earliest temple of its type ever discovered, there are several other contenders for this crown in Turkey. According to Jens Notroff , an archaeologist at the German Archaeological Institute who is working on Göbekli Tepe site, “smaller versions of the pillars, symbols and architecture carved into stone at Göbekli Tepe have been found in settlements up to 125 miles away,” including Karahan Tepe.
Professor Notroff told National Geographic that Göbekli Tepe probably served the region “as a cathedral,” and therefore the surrounding sacred sites were like parish churches. The scientist also thinks hunter-gatherers traveled long distances to meet, worship, and help build new monumental structures through vast community projects that included grand feasts to display wealth.
Returning to Karahan Tepe, according to a report in Daily Sabah , many more years of excavations and research must be conducted to determine what exactly it was used for. However, while it does happen, scientists seldom make big claims without equally big proof, and in this instance the researchers think that when they ultimately get to Karahan Tepe’s excavation center “it will be “much older than 12 thousand years.”
The archaeologists at Karahan Tepe are so convinced that they have “a new zero point in world history,” the mayor says the site will “become a priority in place of Göbekli Tepe” and it will become a new focus of national archaeological and tourist attention.
Join Ancient Origins’ exclusive tour of Turkey’s sacred past in September 2021, visiting some of the country’s most important ancient sites: ANCIENT ORIGINS TOURS
Top image: Massive carved head recently unearthed at the Karahan Tepe site. Source: Arkeofili
By Ashley Cowie