Göbeklitepe (Turquie): Signs of world’s first pictograph found
Turkey's Göbeklitepe, the site of the world’s oldest temple, may be the home of the first pictograph, according to a scene etched into an obelisk.
A scene on an obelisk found during excavations in Göbeklitepe, a 12,000-year-old site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, could be humanity’s first pictograph, according to researchers.
“The scene on the obelisk unearthed in Göbeklitepe could be construed as the first pictograph because it depicts an event thematically. It depicts a human head in the wing of a vulture and a headless human body under the stela,” Şanlıurfa Museum Director and Göbeklitepe excavation head Müslüm Ercan said. “There are various figures like cranes and scorpions around this figure. This is the portrayal of a moment; it could be the first example of pictograph. They are not random figures. We see this type of thing portrayal on the walls in 6,000-5,000 B.C. in Çatalhöyük [in modern-day western Turkey].”
Ercan said the artifacts found in Göbeklitepe provided information about ancient burial traditions. “There were no graves 12,000 years ago. The dead bodies were left outdoors and raptors ate them. In this way, people believed the soul goes to the sky,” he added.
Ercan said it was called “burial in the sky,” and was depicted in obelisks in Göbeklitepe, which is home to the world’s oldest-known temples.
Many of the artifacts being unearthed during the excavations in the Neolithic-era field were the first of their kind, Ercan said, adding that Göbeklitepe served as a religious center and that geo-radar works had showed 23 temple structures in the region.
Ercan said two obelisks, which are called “T” stelas since they are in the shape of the letter “T,” were found opposite each other and that they were surrounded by smaller, round-shape obelisks.
The obelisks symbolized the sacred beings that people worshipped at that time, Ercan said.
“We have a small-size pig sculpture in our museum. It was found in front of central stelas in the ‘C’ temple. It is believed that these stelas symbolized the sacred beings for the people of Göbeklitepe. People of this era used to gather in these temples at a certain time of the year to take vows and worship. After this ceremony, they returned to the plains, their living spaces.”
Roof protection project
In the meantime, the infrastructure work for the construction of a preservation roof in the excavation area has been finished.
”We are carrying out works for the preparation of the roof project, aiming to protect the artifacts unearthed in the Göbeklitepe excavation area,” said Ercan. “Professor Klaus Schmidt initiated this project before he died ... We have finished the infrastructure work of the roof project, and now we are ready to construct it. It is a EU project and in the tender phase. Our goal is to start construction by the end of the year and finish it in eight months.”