Humanity’s rapid move to agriculture was a startling development beginning about 10,000 years ago. The rather abrupt change from hunter/gathering is a fascinating study topic. The move to agriculture within the world population followed thousands of years of a non-agricultural human existence. Anatomically modern humanity has been present on Earth for well over 1000 centuries. Based on the congruent research discoveries of thousands of archaeologists, we affirm that fully human beings in the Image of God have been resident on our planet far longer than many people believe.
During the 1000 centuries mentioned in the above paragraph humans acquired advanced capabilities in tool making, hunting, art, jewelry, sculpture, and musical instruments. They possessed indicators of spirituality. Their intellectual achievement far outdistanced the simple toolmaking of many different bipedal creatures of genus homo in prior time periods. They lived in the Middle Paleolithic period. They were not proverbial “cave men,” even though they lived in the “Stone (Paleolithic) Age.” They possessed full humanity, but their lifestyles were far removed from the lifestyles of modern humanity. As hunter/gatherers they did not live an agriculture based existence. Moreover, they had not yet domesticated plants and animals.
No adult older than 50 ever encountered any mention of a monumental structure known as Gobeckli Tepe in their high school or college history survey classes. The human-built structure has been known for only about fifty years. This monumental discovery was made in 1963 in Turkey and was partially excavated in 1994 by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt. Gobekli Tepe is described as a Stone Age temple but its purpose remains uncertain. The structures were built over hundreds of years about the time when the Wisconsin Ice Age was ending nearly 12,000 years ago. It predates more famous recent civilizations by thousands of years. For example, the “Cradle of Civilization,” Mesopotamia, is a newcomer on the human stage compared with Gobekli Tepe. These much later civilizations embraced writing and the wheel, and was powered by knowledge of agriculture and domestication of plants and animals. By these standards Gobekli Tepe was not produced by a civilized society, but their building prowess indicates they possessed significant physical skills, high intellectual capability and willingness to collaborate on a project they deemed important.
A National Geographic Special—“Lost Civilization” (2012)—highlights the most important facts concerning Gobekli Tepe. A YouTube is readily available and is well worth viewing. We present a brief review of relevant facts and the significance of the Gobekli Tepe discovery. We suggest readers merge our recent citations of “anatomically modern humans” and “full humanity” with our description of incredible Gobekli Tepe discoveries.
Archaeologist Jeffrey I. Rose, National Geographic commentator in “Lost Civilization” states the discovery of the Gobekli Tepe site is “like discovering that a three-year old child built the Empire State Building out of toy brick.” When we examine the marvel of the installation spanning a 300m X 300m area of a Turkish hilltop named “Potbelly Hill,” we realize its agents of construction were not three years old and toy brick was not used in construction. The humor is not lost on readers as we investigate Gobekli Tepe events as our last major planetary Ice Age was drawing to a close.
In 1994 the surface of Potbelly Hill manifested few evidences of what lay beneath the ground. Over succeeding years Klaus Schmidt and his helpers uncovered clusters of enormous T-shaped stone pillars positioned in circles connected to each other by walls of rocks. These pillars bore realistic images of animals of the area—foxes, boars, leopards, even lizards. Human likenesses were mostly missing their heads. There were two enormous pillars at the center of each structure bearing human arms and hands. Ground penetrating radar reveals 16 more unexcavated circles in addition to the four excavated structures at the time of film production.
Older human-built structures in the area are several millennia older. Moving forward in time, Stonehenge would not be constructed for another 6000 years; the pyramids were 7000 years in their future. Bones from the site indicate meat consumption. Wild undomesticated grains nourished hundreds of workers. Think what sort of nutrition was necessary to sustain groups of workmen who levered 14 ton rocks slowly up Potbelly Hill and placed them upright in fashioned grooves in the rock floor of the circular structures! Support personnel were semi-nomadic residents of the area, but for these challenging projects workers had to discover the temporary advantages of settled groups.
During the heyday of Gobekli Tepe prehistoric residents believed in spirits, including animal spirits. Everything had a spirit, including humans. At first, residents saw animals as superior to humans, indicated by headless human likenesses. As time passed, archaeologists noted that humans began to appear more frequently and in greater detail on the central pillars, indicating humans perceived themselves as becoming more superior than the animals. It is the conjecture of the National Geographic producers of “Lost Civilization” that this evolving “religious perception” may have nudged them out of the old stone age (paleolithic) and into the new stone age (neolithic) in which agricultural practices became more important. In this way, their new religious thinking embraced agriculture and later led to the domestication of plants and animals—revolutionary practices at the time.
The stone temple site was eventually backfilled over the next two millennia by those ancient residents, leaving barely a trace of the remarkable structures. We are left to contemplate many questions.
We apply some of the proposals made by old earth creationist scientist/theologians to the absorbing history of Gobekli Tepe. Humans inhabiting the planet for roughly 150,000 years or even before, manifest a remarkable Imago Dei, the “Image of God.” God’s image is not difficult to identify in historical humanity as our knowledge of the characteristics of God’s image confirms. Gobekli Tepe is tangible evidence of the “Image of God” present in very early humanity. We encourage readers to investigate the significance and meaning of God’s image. It is an awe-inspiring creationist concept.