I was out at the Göbeklitepe neolithic site in SE Turkey today.  It has a set of monumental structures using stone monoliths, dating from roughly 9500 to 8000 BC.  Yikes.  That’s totally ridiculously old.  It makes Stonehenge look modern.   It probably pre-dates agriculture, which causes archaeologists’ brains to implode.

There are an estimated twenty stone circles, of which four have been excavated, each consisting of an outer circle of tee-shaped monolithic pillars and a pair of taller central monoliths.  The largest circle I saw dates from about 9000 BC and has an outer circle of 3 meter pillars and two central monoliths about 5 meters tall.

There are many carved designs, often of foxes, boars or birds.  There is a striking 3-D carving of a lion on one pillar.

The site seems to have been deliberately buried before being abandoned, which explains why so much ancient material has survived so well.  Archaeologists are in hog heaven, interpreting, re-interpreting, controverting and disputing.  Were the structures temples?  Was this a cult center?  Why were circles abandoned and new ones added?  Was this also a pre-urban (!?) settlement?  Were there ancient astronauts?  Stay tuned!

I also visited the neighboring site of Karahantepe.  This is from the same culture, but has at least one stone circle carved directly from bedrock.  And a carved projecting human head.  Various statues that have been found here are in the Şanlıurfa  museum (currently closed due to flooding, alas).