At the dawn of civilisation

We were quite looking forward to our beds after our amazing but quite tiring night adventure and if we weren’t so hungry, we probably would have headed straight to bed without eating anything. Breakfast wasn’t an impressive affair and we half wished we could have ate at one of the many Kurdish cafés we had stopped by during the morning tour.

The plan was to sleep for a bit then take the bus to Adıyaman from where we could then take another bus to Şanlıurfa (or Urfa), which would be our last and final stop for this trip. As much as I wanted to explore more of this side of Turkey, it would have to be for another time. Our driver had an uncle who owned a hotel in Urfa and arranged for us to have an extremely good discount, to which we simply couldn’t say no – because of course it’s completely normal to ask for discounts for someone you’ve only just met.

A rustic Armenian house converted into a hotel - Aslan Guest House
A rustic Armenian house converted into a hotel – Aslan Guest House

As we munched on some white cheese and bread, we were asked if we wanted to join another tour to Göbekli Tepe near Urfa, an archeological site, with another lodger at the hotel. We had been planning to go there in any case and after some serious maths, we realised that it would be much cheaper to go with them rather than figuring it out on our own. Now that I think about it, we probably could have done it for much cheaper.

Having to forego our well-planned nap, we ended up sleeping in the car (thank god for sunglasses) and we zoomed out to the highway leading to Urfa. We had a quick stop at the Atatürk Dam Lake again, but this time, the one behind the Dam on the Şanlıurfa side and all I can say was that IT WAS BLOODY FREEZING. We were challenged to try and stand in the water for 20 seconds. The wimp that I am made it for about seven seconds – in my defence, I am used to only tropical waters.

Behind the Dam
Behind the Dam

We also had another quick stop at a café which gave onto the actual Atatürk Dam, which was quite impressive in itself.

Ataturk Dam
Atatürk Dam

Reaching Göbekli Tepe at peak noon was probably not wise but as excavations are still going on there, most of the areas were covered which worked very well for us. Resembling the Stonehenge, it was however built much earlier and even before the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The site gained some popularity after the National Geographic Cover in June 2011 – this is basically from where I learned about it and had been on my list since. Dated at 12,000 years ago, it is believed to be the world’s first religious site or at least the world’s oldest religious site discovered so far. A religious sanctuary built by hunter-gatherers, it probably questions the basic theory of how societies evolved to present day. It is believed that it is only after we moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers leading to an end of nomadic life and settlements that art and religion became part of our societies. However, Göbekli Tepe as well as many other sites in the Middle East are challenging this theory, suggesting that religion might have been the trigger for civilisation.

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Carvings on the rocks. Photo: Laure.
Stonehenge-like arrangements
Stonehenge-like arrangements (maybe if you squint). Photo: Laure
Burial place under a olive tree, dated much younger than the actual site.
Burial place under a olive tree, dated much younger than the actual site.
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2 thoughts on “At the dawn of civilisation”

  1. What makes it tie to religion? Those look like dinosaurs. 😀 It does sound like it has a very fascinating history that goes way way back. Sure it’s one for the books with being the birthplace of religious site.
    Never dove to a cold water. Just a no-no for me. 🙂

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