Prehistoric monument in Turkey older than Göbeklitepe

Boncuklu Tarla bij Mardin in Turkije.

Turkish archaeologists have discovered a unique prehistoric settlement which is probably older than the famous prehistoric site at Göbeklitepe, some 300 kilometres away. Considering that Göbeklitepe is already claimed to be the oldest settlement in the world with a temple complex, this find is nothing short of sensational. The site is called Boncuklu Tarla near Mardi and lies in Southeast Turkey.

Excavations began here in 2012 and the first results have recently been published. According to Professor İbrahim Özcoşar of Artuklu University the site is 1000 years older than Göbeklitepe, which makes it 12,000 years old.

People from many cultures have lived here, including Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, Seljuks and Ottomans. It seems that the history of this site goes much further back than previously thought.

Aerial photo

This is the oldest settlement in the region. The ground plans of a number of houses have been identified. Between the houses stands a building that looks like a temple, just as in Göbeklitepe. The presence of a temple suggests that the people here had some sort of religious belief, although we do not know what it was.

According to Professor İbrahim Özcoşar this is a highly significant discovery. ‘We can now find some answers to questions about how the first inhabitants of Northern Mesopotamia and the Tigris region lived and how the transition happened from hunter-gatherers to agriculture. We may also be able to find answers to the important question of how cultural life and religion come into being”.

Text Harrie Wolters

Translation Alun Harvey


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