"Following his flock over the arid hillsides, he passed the single mulberry tree, which the locals regarded as 'sacred'. The bells on his sheep tinkled in the stillness. Then he spotted something. Crouching down, he brushed away the dust, and exposed a strange, large, oblong stone. The man looked left and right: there were similar stone rectangles, peeping from the sands. Calling his dog to heel, the shepherd resolved to inform someone of his finds when he got back to the village. Maybe the stones were important. "Contact was made with a German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul and at the end of 1994, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt came to the site of Gobekli Tepe (pronounced Go-beckly Tepp-ay) for excavations.
"Archaeologists worldwide are in rare agreement on the site's importance. 'Gobekli Tepe changes everything,' says Ian Hodder, at Stanford University. David Lewis-Williams, professor of archaeology at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, says: 'Gobekli Tepe is the most important archaeological site in the world.'"What exactly was uncovered at Gobekli Tepe?
"The oblong stones, unearthed by the shepherd, turned out to be the flat tops of awesome, T-shaped megaliths. Imagine carved and slender versions of the stones of Avebury or Stonehenge. Most of these standing stones are inscribed with bizarre and delicate images - mainly of boars and ducks, of hunting and game. Sinuous serpents are another common motif. Some of the megaliths show crayfish or lions. "Forty five stones have been unearthed so far but they expect to find hundreds more and there are several unique factors to consider about Gobekli Tepe:
"The first is its staggering age. Carbon-dating shows that the complex is at least 12,000 years old, maybe even 13,000 years old. That means it was built around 10,000BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built in 3,000 BC and the pyramids of Giza in 2,500 BC. Gobekli is thus the oldest such site in the world, by a mind-numbing margin. It is so old that it predates settled human life. It is pre-pottery, pre-writing, pre-everything. Gobekli hails from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, right back in our hunter-gatherer past. How did cavemen build something so ambitious? Schmidt speculates that bands of hunters would have gathered sporadically at the site, through the decades of construction, living in animal-skin tents, slaughtering local game for food. The many flint arrowheads found around Gobekli support this thesis; they also support the dating of the site. This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something like Gobekli, is worldchanging, for it shows that the old hunter-gatherer life, in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived - almost unbelievably sophisticated."I understand that carbon dating has significant flaws, but this quote from a scientist is quite significant. I don't know if this really is the Garden of Eden spoken of in Genesis, but it certainly is interesting what modern scientists are finding! We live in exciting times, do we not? What say you?