The geometric complexity of Göbekli Tepe, the oldest temple in the world, is a surprise to scientists and also a great mystery: how could a Neolithic society build something like this?
Since it was discovered by the German professor Klaus Schmidt in 1994, its construction has been attributed to hunter-gatherer populations of 11,500 years ago, including 6,500 years before the great pyramids of Egypt.
But the arrangement of its pillars and its decoration suggest that it must have been from a complex civilization, something that scientists did not believe possible at that time.
So, who built it and how? Now Israeli scientists have found a clue that could uncover some of the unknowns that Göbekli Tepe hides.
Göbekli Tepe is an archaeological site formed by a series of circular and rectangular megalithic monuments arranged in the form of enclosures located in the province of Sanliurfa, in southwestern Turkey.
It was one of the most important discoveries of the Neolithic, the last of the Stone Age periods and was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2018.
Its rooms, probably used for the performance of rituals, have tall pillars about 5.5 meters high in the shape of a T with sculpted wild animals.
Until now, most researchers have argued that the Göbekli Tepe enclosures in the main excavation area were built over time.
Unusual geometric complexity
But the researchers Gil Haklay, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and Professor Avi Gopher, of the Department of Archeology and Ancient Civilizations of the Near East of the University of Tel Aviv (TAU), they do not believe that it was thus.
For Haklay and Gopher, geometric design of the site's impressive round stone structures and the massive set of limestone pillars were initially planned as a single structure.
According to Haklay and Gopher, the most remarkable thing is that the central points of the three most important spaces of Göbekli Tepe, designated as enclosures B, C and D, appear to be geometrically united in an almost perfect equilateral triangle, something the researchers suggest could signify a hierarchical relationship between the spaces.
The scientists came to this conclusion after using a computer algorithm to trace aspects of the architectural design processes involved in the construction of these enclosures.
«Göbekli Tepe is an archaeological wonder (…) However, its architectural complexity is very unusual«, Explains Professor Gopher in a statement from TAU and whose research was published in the archeology journal Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
But this thesis by Haklay and Gopher that the structures were designed as a single project and according to a coherent geometric pattern would prove highly advanced for Neolithic hunter-gatherers.
«This research opens the door to new interpretations of this site in general and of the nature of its anthropomorphic megalithic pillars specifically.«Says Gopher.
It was traditionally believed that certain planning capabilities and practices, such as the use of geometry and the formulation of floor plans, emerged much later than the period during which the Göbekli Tepe was built.
Specifically after hunter-gatherers were transformed into farmer-producers a few 10,500 years. Even one of the characteristics of the first farmers is the use of rectangular architecture.
«This case of early architectural planning can serve as an example of the dynamics of cultural changes during the early parts of the Neolithic period.«, Says researcher Haklay.
«Our new research indicates that architectural planning methods, abstract design rules, and organizational patterns were already in use during this period.«, He emphasizes.
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