National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Cradle of the Gods Facts

The Gbekli Tepe excavation site.

The Gbekli Tepe excavation site. (View larger version)

Photograph by Atlantic Productions


  • During Neolithic times burials as we know it weren't performed. Evidence in Catalhoyuk shows that people didn't bury their dead immediately, they left them exposed to the air to be picked clean by vultures. Only when the skeletons were clean were they buried under sleeping platforms in their homes.

  • Thirty years before Klaus and his team began excavations; American and Turkish archaeological surveyors came to the site but left without doing any digging.

  • Gobekli Tepe is Turkish for 'pot bellied hill'. It is a 'Tell', which an artificial mound made by man power alone.

  • Gobekli Tepe appears to be part of a series of similar sites in the area although it also appears to be the centre of this community.

  • Gobekli Tepe was in a prime location for limestone. The surrounding area was used as a quarry for the building works during the construction. Evidence for this can still be seen today.

  • Experts believe it could have taken up to 50 men to move one of the giant monoliths at Gobekli Tepe into place.

  • Most of the animals depicted at Gobekli Tepe have an emphasis on aggression; bared teeth, fangs and snarling all feature heavily.

  • Klaus Schmidt has only excavated a fraction of the site at Gobekli Tepe- he predicts that there are still several more circular enclosures buried in the hill.

  • The carving and construction of the monoliths at Gobekli Tepe may have been as vast in scale as the construction of the Obelisks in Ancient Egypt.

  • In the earlier enclosures at Gobekli animals feature predominantly amongst the carvings however once the older layers were uncovered the team discovered a shift. Human imagery is dominant.

  • Similarities can be seen between the symbolism present at Catalhoyuk and at Gobekli Tepe. At both sites headless bodies in association with birds are present suggesting a likeness between the people who occupied both sites.

  • Gobekli Tepe is 7000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza.