Undoubtedly, Göbekli Tepe is one of the most fascinating findspots of recent years. Göbekli Tepe is an archaeological site that displays impressive finds, charming all visitors, whether they are experts or not, with its glori- ous temples, pillars up to 6 meters tall, statues and reliefs. The earliest of these date to the 12th millennium BC, a date which is so difficult to comprehend that it has taken Göbekli Tepe to a realm loaded with speculation and mystery. The worlds of science and the imagination have coalesced, the conscious or unconscious speculative distortion, causing wide varia- tions in the public perceptions of the community at Göbekli Tepe. The wide variety of diverse interpreta- tions of the site, such as Göbekli Tepe representing the Gate of Heaven mentioned in Holy Scriptures, or being an alien center, has progressively increased in number. Among these interpretations, the most suit- able for Göbekli Tepe is only the association with the “Gate of Heaven”. Such interpretations, particularly regarding contact with aliens, appear whenever an unexpected find is encountered, and are eventually forgotten after exciting the public and enriching the imagination of scifi writers. The main reason for this is unfortunately the oversimplified perception within the global community of “Prehistoric Man”.
The belief that prehistoric man lived a primitive life in caves is such a dominant one, that think- ing about them in conjunction with terms such as “art” or “technology” is generally not a matter of discussion. Even Çatalhöyük, which caused great excitement in the 1990s, similar to the excite- ment Göbekli Tepe has generated today among the world’s public, was not able to alter this long- standing perception. Places like Çatalhöyük and Göbekli Tepe are often ignored in the broader history of civilization, and are seen as “anomalous” and “mysterious” findspots. If Göbekli Tepe had not recently been covered by some international press organizations, would our community have noticed Göbekli Tepe? In view of the long-term excavations conducted at Göbekli Tepe since 1995, which revealed exciting finds even from the first years of excavation, we can say that the an- swer to this question must be negative.
Göbekli Tepe, in its 15th year of excavation, after unearthing numerous monumental structures and magnificent carved pillars, was suddenly presented to the public. In this representation, the antiquity of Göbekli Tepe was discussed, but the broader cul- tural context that it belongs to and the long-term processes it reveals were not mentioned, and thus its impact in the community became one of suspi- cion mixed with astonishment. Although archae- ologists began to become familiar with the culture revealed by the Göbekli Tepe excavations via the Çayönü excavations as early as 1964, our infor- mation about this culture became much stronger with the excavations first at Nevali Çori and then in other excavation areas after 1978. Therefore, the remains unearthed at Göbekli Tepe are not “anomalous” for specialists of the “Neolithic Period”, but simply more magnificent and well-preserved com- pared to other examples.
This paper does not intend to minimize Göbekli Tepe. Undoubtedly, Göbekli Tepe is a very impor- tant findspot in every aspect, and can be viewed as one of the most impressive archaeological excava- tion projects conducted in the world in recent years. Instead, this paper was prepared in order to empha- size the culture that it represents and the long-term development process of this culture, rather than introducing the finds from Göbekli Tepe. Göbekli Tepe is a site belonging to the Neolithic Pe- riod, sometimes called the “New Stone Age” in our schoolbooks. Hence, the culture of the Neolithic Pe- riod should first be introduced.
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