Ancient temple in Turkey

Is this the oldest temple built by the mankind?

The structures discovered in the Boncuklu Tarla site are 1,000 years older than those found in Göbeklitepe, and could shed light on the very origins of humanity.

An 11,000-year-old temple discovered in the province of Mardin, in southeastern Turkey, has revolutionised the concepts that many archaeologists had about human life thousands of years ago and could unseat Göbeklitepe as the oldest sanctuary in the world, according to experts.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, İbrahim Özcoşar, rector of the Artuklu University of Mardin, stressed that the discoveries made so far at the Boncuklu Tarla site not only resemble those found in Göbeklitepe, a site located in the province of Şanlıurfa declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, but they are also at least 1,000 years older than those of the latter.

Excavations at the site, located in the municipality of Dargeçit de Mardin, began in 2012; the area was in fact already known for its rich historical heritage, dating back to the Neolithic but throughout history has been home to numerous civilisations including the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Hittites, the Assyrians, the Romans, Seljuks or Ottomans, among others.

“This can be considered a discovery that shows that the first settlers (in this area) were believers,” said Özcoşar. “This area is important in terms of being one of the first settlements of humanity,” he added, emphasising once again the similarities that Boncuklu Tarla and Göbeklitepe present.

A discovery that could answer questions about the origin of humanity

For his part, Ergül Kodaş, an archaeologist at Artuklu University who works as an advisor to the excavations in this area, explained that the history of Boncuklu Tarla dates back about 12,000 years ago. “Several special structures, which we can call temples, and unique buildings were unearthed in the settlement, in addition to many houses and wells,” he said.

“This is a new key point that could shed light on many issues, for example on how the inhabitants of northern Mesopotamia and Upper Tigris began to settle, or how the transition from hunter-gatherer life to food production (in settlements) took place, and about how cultural and religious structures changed, “Kodaş said.

The expert archaeologist finally stressed that the Boncuklu Tarla site has many buildings that are similar to those unearthed in Göbeklitepe, which is almost 300 kilometers away. Although unlike the steles found in Göbeklitepe, those of Boncuklu Tarla do not have sculpted figures, everything indicates that we could be before the oldest temple built by the human being after abandoning the nomadic life.