Civilizations rise and fall in the blink of a cosmic eye. When we rediscover their ancient settlements decades, generations, or centuries later, sometimes we find that they were abandoned after a terrible disease or famine, or that they were wiped out by war. Other times, we find simply…. nothing. Gobekli Tepe This ancient city in Turkey truly brings new meaning to the word “ancient”. It’s approximately 11,000 years old (that’s about 6,000 years older than Stonehenge), and it’s thought to be one – if not the – earliest example of an organized, permanent settlement built on the cusp between mankind’s migration between a hunter-gatherer society and an agricultural one. It’s most notable for its implications that we’ve gotten the whole “evolution into an agricultural society” thing all wrong. It’s long been thought that the development of agriculture gave civilizations the luxury of staying in one place for a long period of time – opening the door for ancient people to start building things like temples and massive, massive structures. Findings at Gobekli Tepe, however, suggest that the structures came first, and it was out of the necessity of supporting large teams of builders and their families that people finally began farming for food. Gobekli Tepe is also notable for its rather bizarre stages of abandonment. Excavations have discovered that there were a series of enclosures that were built, used, then purposely covered with dirt and completely buried. Other structures were built on top of that, repeating the cycle over and over again. Structures got smaller and smaller, until the entire thing as abandoned around 8000 BC. Religious symbolism is all over the ancient ruins, most noticeably in carvings of the animals whose bones were also found at the site. Not long before the original construction of Gobekli Tepe, a massive climate change struck the earth – thought to be a parting gift from a comet that disintegrated over the planet’s atmosphere. Those now digging at Gobekli Tepe suspect that the massive project was originally undertaken in hope of protecting the earth from another catastrophe – and that as attitudes shifted (and perhaps as the memory of the event drifted farther and farther from recent memory), the pillars and enclosures built for protection simply lost their meaning, and people moved off in search of more fruitful land, but no one knows for sure. 9 more via Urban Ghosts.
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