The Downing Foundation
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Gobekli Tepe, Turkey (Early Neolithic Ceremonial Center)

Göbekli Tepe is an Early Neolithic site of enormous significance, featuring 5-meter-high monolithic pillars carved in relief and dating to 10,000 or more years ago.  Erected within circular “temple” structures, the latest excavations have revealed that these structures likely covered the entire hillside and could number as many as 20 in total.  Göbekli Tepe has been interpreted as the oldest human-made place of worship yet discovered.  Until excavations began, a complex on this scale was not thought possible for a community so ancient. The massive sequence of stratification layers suggests several millennia of activity, perhaps reaching back to the Mesolithic. The oldest occupation layer (stratum III) contains monolithic pillars linked by coarsely built walls to form circular or oval structures. So far, four such buildings, with diameters between 10 and 30m have been uncovered. Geophysical surveys indicate the existence of 16 additional structures. However, the site and its extant remains are threatened by looting, exposure and insufficient management of the site and its resources.

-From the Global Heritage Fund website

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