We often highlight the structures of the ancient Egyptians as proof that the people of 3,000 years ago were a lot more intelligent than we previously realized. The astounding architecture found in the pyramids of Egypt at a time of limited technology shows how intelligent these people were. While some argue that it means aliens visited Earth and loaned out some epic technology, it is far more likely that these people were simply very smart. If we go back a few thousand more years and look at Stonehenge it is another incredible piece of architecture that defies our ideas of the people at that time. A new discovery now shows that people from an even older time deserve some credit as well.
The ancient temple of Gobekli Tepe is believed to be the oldest known temple in the world dating back 11,000 years. For comparison and because it may surprise you, Macchu Picchu was built in the 1400s and so is closer to 600 years old. Gobekli Tepe can be found in Turkey and is 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. So it is really really old.
It comes from the neolithic time when people were described as hunter-gatherers. I am not sure if you remember much from your early history lessons but we don’t give these hunter-gatherers a lot of credit. They had not come up with farming yet and so basically roamed the land, killing animals, eating berries, and living the good life. This temple clearly shows they were also worshipping a God at that time. More than that, the structure of the temple indicates that they had a very good understanding of geometry and mathematics.
When you initially look at the temple, it appears to be a series of winding tunnels that lead to abstract rooms of differing sizes. However, closer examination has now revealed that the center of the three tunnels forms an equilateral triangle. To plan three circular rooms of different sizes that all lie closely together with the centers creating an equal-sided triangle is the kind of question you would be pretty angry to receive in your final school math exam. To think that these 11,000-year-old hunter-gatherers created this structure without pens and paper boggles the mind.
Archaeologists have ruled out the chance of coincidence and say that these people were simply intelligent. Even more interesting is that to date we have only uncovered 5% of this temple, it was discovered in 1990. There is still a lot more of this temple to be discovered and who knows what secrets it holds.
This incredible discovery is causing historians to re-examine the ideas they had about people from over 10,000 years ago. The cavemen that we read about in our books range from 200,000 years old to 40,000 years old. Yet these discoveries from 11,000 years old must still cause many to take a second look at the theories they had in place. It shows that the ingenuity and intelligence of people at that time were far higher than we realized.
The most credit we gave hunter-gatherers from 10,000 years ago is that they had figured out how to make tools form bones and had barely made it out of caves to live in small huts. It now appears that we were wrong. These people created a temple of such architectural complexity that it would rival those from 6,000 years later. The next time you think about a visit to Stonehenge, head over to Turkey for something far more remarkable instead. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.