One of the biggest attractions in the world right now is a pagan temple in Turkey that is being regarded as the world’s first temple. Find out about the mystery surrounding the Gobeklitepe and why tourists are heading there. By Deepali Sharma
A 12,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site in south-eastern Turkey has emerged as a significant tourist destination because of its history and structure. The ancient Gobeklitepe is being considered the First Temple of the World, a prodigious discovery that marks the existence of religious class distinction dating back to prehistoric times, even before the Stonehenge!
More archaeological research has revealed that there may have existed some community behaviour, like simple agricultural practices, even during that time, which means that this could actually be the birthplace of civilisation altogether!
While archaeological studies suggest that the circular and oval-shaped structures found on the top of a hill near the temple were used for ritual and religious practices, geomagnetic surveys conclude that this is the largest temple in the world, with at least 20 humongous installations, each a temple.
One of the most jaw-dropping features of this prehistoric site is the colossal T-shaped pillars constructed at the centre of each installation. These pillars are carvings of animals such as wild ducks and snakes, abstract symbols, or a combination of scenes. Professor Klaus Schmidt, who led the mammoth excavation for more than 20 years, asserts that the six-metre tall pillars are stylised human beings since some of them have carvings of hands and fingers. There are also some three-dimensional structures which he says are depictions of predators such as lions.
The centre of faith and worship in this Neolithic site is surrounded by several mysteries that make it a spectacular tourist destination. Nothing is known about how the heavy 60-tonne pillars were erected, who the creator of such a gigantic structure was (considering there were no hand tools), or how the site came to be buried with rocks and earth.