Ancient site older than Göbeklitepe unearthed
The latest archeologic excavations in southeastern Turkey discovered an ancient site older than Göbeklitepe, known as the oldest temple in the world, according to a Turkish university rector.
İbrahim Özcoşar, the rector of Mardin Artuklu University, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that the discoveries at Boncuklu Tarla (Beaded Field) in the southeastern province of Mardin resemble those unearthed in Göbeklitepe, an archeological site located in the southeastern Şanlıurfa province, and even 1,000 years older.
The excavation work began in 2012 at the Boncuklu Tarla in Dargeçit district that dates back to the Neolithic period.
The area is known to have been home throughout history to the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, Seljuks, and Ottomans, among others.
“It is possible to consider this as a finding that prove the first settlers [in the area] were believers,” Özcoşar said.
“This area is important in terms of being one of the first settled areas of humanity and shows that the first people to have settled here were believers,” he added, pointing to similar discoveries in Göbeklitepe and Boncuklu Tarla.
Ergül Kodaş, an archaeologist at Mardin Artuklu University and advisor to the excavation area, told Anadolu Agency that the history of the Boncuklu Tarla is estimated to be around 12,000 years old.
“Several special structures which we can call temples and special buildings were unearthed in the settlement, in addition to many houses and dwellings,” Kodaş said.
“This is a new key point to inform us on many topics such as how the [people] in northern Mesopotamia and upper Tigris began to settle, how the transition from hunter-gatherer life to food production happened and how cultural and religious structures changed,” he added.
According to Kodaş, there are buildings in the area similar to those in Göbeklitepe.
Boncuklu Tarla is almost 300 kilometers east of Gobeklitepe.
“We have identified examples of buildings which we call public area, temples and religious places in Boncuklu Tarla that are older compared to discoveries in Göbeklitepe,” he added.
Boncuklu Tarla was discovered in 2008 during a field survey. Its first excavations started in 2012.
Houses with quarry stone walls and stiffened clay floors from the Aceramic Neolithic Age, which date back to 10,000 B.C. and 7,000 B.C., were found during the excavations at the site in Dargeçit.
Along with thousands of beads used in ornaments, obsidian or flint blades, waste from ornament making and stone chipping tools were found at the site.
The tools include blades, gimlets, arrowheads and microliths.
Göbeklitepe, declared an official UNESCO World Heritage Site last year, was discovered in 1963 by researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago.
The German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum have been carrying out joint excavations at the site since 1995. They found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering three to six meters high and weighing 40-60 tons.
During excavations, various historical artifacts, including a 65-centimeter-long human statue dating back 12,000 years, have also been discovered.