Gobekli Tepe (means "belly hill")is a hillside in Southeast Turkey, where the oldest known temple complex in the world was discovered in 1994 by a German archaeologist called Klaus Schmidt. It is a complex of 20 or so circular buildings of various ages, the oldest of which has been dated at 11,000 years old - to put that in perspective, that is 6000 years older than Stonehenge! It is so old that it predates both agriculture and metallurgy - as incredible at it seems, achaeologists believe these temples were constructed by nomadic hunter gatherers using only stone axes and flints. The giant T-shaped limestone megaliths that form the site are decorated with animal motifs in both shallow relief and also more sculptural forms. The spaces in between the megaliths were filled in with drystone walls, which often incorporated low benches in thier design. Nobody knows what type of religion or spirituality the makers of the temple had, but due to the frightening nature of the animal carvings, (which include vultures and lions) some speculate that it could have been a death cult or necropolis.
It has long been believed that neolithic societies only started to build such enduring temples once they had settled into complex agrarian communities; domesticating wildlife, making pottery and the like. However, the evidence at Gobekli Tepe presents a different picture altogether - a hunter gatherer society whos spiritual life led to them later settling in the area (possibly to maintain the temples they had built) and developing agrarian technologies. In short, thier religion lay at the very root of who they were to become - us.
This was my entry for round 4 of the MocOlympics on MOCpages.