Göbekli Tepe, Urfa Yeni Mahalle, Languages and First Settlements In the transition to an agricultural society
Göbekli Tepe and a number of villages located in the flanks of the Fertile Crescent which can be called “Half-moon civilization” are the places where our transition from migrating hunter-gatherer to farming-hunting-settler societies took place.
To understand these settlements or “civilization” better, it could be useful to say out loud a few times that the human population then was around 5 million in the world.
We believe that after the Toba volcanic eruptions in Sumatra seventy thousand years ago the world population was as low as ten thousand humans.
After 40 years of work in demographics, I can afford to be skeptical: the above given estimates are educated guesses at best, they could vary up to a zero.
When thinking about Göbekli Tepe and the prehistoric sites of human heritage which are considered a matter concerning the “archeologists”,I am naturally more respectful.
But as “health” matters are too important to be left to physicians only, or “justice” to be left to “lawyers” to decide; human heritage is too important a subject to be left to archeologists or a “ministry of culture”.
Experienced archaeologists estimate that approximately 95% of Turkey’s archaeological findings are still underground.
Klaus Schmidt writes the same for Göbeklitepe. According to geophysical studies more than 95% of Göbeklitepe is still the under the earth.
I have been reading about the Göbeklitepe and surrounding excavations for nine years. I felt it was rather odd in the beginning, when approximately only five million humans were alive that some archeologists started talking about “Turkish” or “Kurdish” finds.
There were of course, no distinction between Turks, Kurds or other “nations or tribes” when our common ancestors were building the first villages and or meeting sites.
After visiting Göbeklitepe this year I was surprised to hear that radiocarbon14 dating on human bones have not been performed (or published) yet and no Luminescence (TL) tests were done. The simple roof constructed with wooden pillars amidst archeological findings also surprised me. I am sure a modern covering roof, as is used in Ephesus, can be built. I believe that all this has been planned.
I wasn’t able to meet Klaus Schmidt the chief of the excavation. We sadly lost him on the 20th July this year at a relatively young age. He contributed largely to the popularization of the archeological findings in and around Göbeklitepe. He was one of the first to realize that this place was prehistoric after having seen the Nevali Chori excavation which is now under the artificial lake of the Atatürk Dam.
I feel, as an amateur, that 30 percent of Göbeklitepe should be excavated as soon as possible to get a more wholesome picture. And the rest may be preserved, as new techniques develop.
Some archaeologists in the excavation of archaeological sites rightfully stand out. But our main concern when looking and studying archeological sites should of course be the people who built them, not people who dig them up. Many archeological “Site Lords” are in charge of the sites till they die and maybe a change of responsibility every 8-10 years would be a better approach in these modern times to give young archeologists and different approaches a chance.
A proposed name: Half-moon Civilization
As the archeologist Bahattin Çelik proposes, these early excavations could be called the “Crescent civilization” or the doyen archeologist Hayat Erkanal calls them “Moon civilization” the name Half-Moon Civilization comes to mind as Göbekli Tepe is neither the largest nor the eldest of these sites.
Older than Göbeklitepe, there are the radiocarbon14 finds, not only on plant remains but also on human bones in Yenimahalle Urfa and Gusir Höyük.
Tell Qaramel, el Ahmar, Karaman Tepe and Jerfi are similar sites , located like a half-moon, within the borders of present-day Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
It is the cradle of human culture and this civilization probably began 13-14 thousand years BP. We will maybe yet find remains of “wooden” precursors four or five thousand years before that.
The stone structures in these civilizations were abandoned after being buried some 9000 years ago.
Maybe the old ideology left its place to a new, then modern, ideology of the predominantly agricultural societies?
Due to migrations we find similar stone structures six thousand years later in Stonehenge in England and in wooden forms (in the hunter-gatherer societies in transition to agriculture) or wooden totems of Indians in the American continent.
The plains of the Fertile Crescent were probably more like swamp land at the end of the last ice age. The phrase “hilly flanks” (Braidwood) of these plains of Mesopotamia are the birthplace of this civilization.
Settling and domestication of animals and meeting places and the transition from hunting and gathering societies and the transition to hunting – agricultural societies took place here.
Not only settlements , but also a starting point for migration and differences in language, probably took place here, in my article “ the evolution of languages” I hinted that perhaps even the differentiation between the agglutinative Ural Altay languages and Indo-European language family took place in the mountains in Hakkari or the hills and valleys in which the settlements of Half-moon civilization is located.
Later civilizations like the Sumerian civilization (which used an agglutinative language); Hittite civilization (of Indo-European language family) can be seen as supportive for this theory.
Bahattin Çelik shares that the first DNA analyses suggest that tribes from the north were responsible for these sites. Exciting findings, I’m sure will cause scientific explosions in near future. We can be sure of one thing: that the Half-moon civilization is too important to be bound only to one language or one country.
Shopping Mall, School, Temple or Entertainment center?
Are these structures the first temples or shopping malls as Professor of Rock Mechanics Mahir Vardar suggests, because there is no natural silex in the vicinity of Göbeklitepe, but lots of flint stones on site. As there was no money then, probably more like bartering stations.
We do not know how the worshipping needs of our ancestors were then. Except for the instinctive worshipping of the powerful people and natural forces and we dont know when the need for abstraction of worshipping exactly evolved before Akhenaton.
Klaus Schmidt has called Göbekli Tepe the world’s oldest temple. His book encourages the reader to ask the question: Was it a school for hunting and natural sciences as well? We now start to understand that Göbekli Tepe is probably neither the eldest nor the largest of these settlements.
As our species couldn’t have changed much in the essence in the short era since the Half-moon civilization, was it also an entertainment center? Maybe these were simply only places where stone and wooden weapons were left outside when congregating!
Archeo Parks the Future of Archeological Exhibitions?
There is of course need for bureaucracy while sorting and preserving archeological findings but as we all know the Ministry of culture works on the edge of bankruptcy as far as their safekeeping in their depots is concerned. So it is obvious that there is a need for a reform in the bookkeeping and safekeeping practices of the Ministry of Culture.
The idea of in-situ conservation, open to the public, the so called Archeo Parks could contribute to the much needed income and will hopefully become more and more popular.
They could also enable the public to see history partially in the natural environment, out of outdated or surrealistic museums.
A suggestion for young people is to invest in real-estate in Urfa in spite of political troubles in the neighbouring countries at the moment. This region will be more popular than the Pyramids or Mecca in the upcoming decades.
Key words: human population of 5 million, The first villages, Göbeklitepe, Karahan Tepe, Urfa Yeni Mahalle, Gusir Höyük, Half-Moon Civilization, Crescent civilization, Mesopotamia, Languages, Indo-European language groups, Ural Altay Language groups, the separation between Indo-European language groups and Ural Altay Language groups, transition from hunter – gatherer society, to hunter-farming societies.