The Mystery of Gobekli Tepe

After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, what happened to them? We know that sin, having entered the world, spread quickly and the first murder occurred in a fit of jealousy. Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed Abel when God preferred Abel’s offering over Cain’s. (Gen 4:3-5)

People who are unsaved and therefore an enemy of God say it’s “not fair” that God didn’t accept Cain’s offering. However, Adam and Eve knew God and continued to worship Him after being expelled from the Garden. When Eve bore Cain she praised the LORD. (Gen 4:1). They taught their sons how to worship. If they hadn’t, Abel would not have known God, would not have known that he should make an offering, and not have known that offering should be a blood sacrifice. The problem was that Cain did not offer his sacrifice in faith. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4).” If you’re not offering to God by faith, it is by self, or by sight, and therefore is from your own presumption. That never pleases God.

After Cain killed Adam, God sent Cain away. “So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” (Genesis 4:16) Soon, Seth was born to Adam and Eve. So here we have a split, the believers dwelling somewhere presumably close to where Eden was, and Cain going east, marrying and having children away from the LORD’S presence. But where were they? It is believed the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Turkey. Are there any other remnants of those earliest people? Didn’t they leave anything behind?

In 1994, a Kurdish shepherd stumbled over a stone. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt was called in and an extraordinary site was slowly uncovered over the decade. The world’s first temple, 11,000 years old. It is more enigmatic than Easter Island and more mysterious and complex than Stonehenge. It is universally agreed that it is one of the most important sites in the world. It is seven thousand years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. “As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.’ If this place they unearthed is as old as they say, it survived the Flood.

UK Daily Mail says the temple stones at Gobekli Tepe might be the greatest archaeological discovery ever, “a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion – and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden. Nat Geo says, “We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.”

Previously every archaeological and sociological construct  was predicated on the assumption that agriculture came first, then worship. Gobekli Tempe shows that assumption to be wrong: worship came first, and a lot earlier than they thought. Then agriculture was born  in that very area. We know that wheat was the oldest and likely first domesticated grain, and it happened in that area of Turkey. “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;” (Genesis 3:17-18). And agriculture was born.

As for worship versus agriculture, Christians know worship came first. Our loving God created humans, who in turn worshiped Him in perfection and without sin was among the very first acts of humankind. Christians know that ‘civilization’ was created by God. He made the world, made humans and animals. He structured the world through a hierarchy of relational commands: worship of Him, hierarchy between man and woman, and of man over the animals. He gave them jobs to do. He recreated with them. Food was abundant and available. From the sixth day, all the elements of civilization existed: worship, employment, leisure, the foundational structure of the world: family unit, were all set in one day. It did not evolve and it did not progress. It simply was. (Gen 2:15-25).

Yes, but the urge to worship who? The God of Creation? Adam and Eve and their progeny worshiped God personally. Cain was away from the LORD’S presence, but perhaps he worshiped the serpent now. Were he and his people beginning to worship but worship something other than God, using advanced skills learned from the fallen angels to build a blasphemous temple?  The UK Daily Mail article says “It’s as if the gods came down from heaven and built Gobekli for themselves.” Ah! Perhaps that is a clue.

Here is another tantalizing clue: “”Nat Geo: “Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C.” Just as sin corrupts steadily downward, perhaps the skills, interest, and conditions at Gobekli Tepe caused the downward spiral in the worship there, just as sin causes a downward spiral in everything.
We may never know more about why Gobekli Tepe was built, or exactly where the Garden of Eden lay. As the Nat Geo article concludes, they quote the archaeologist. “Today less than a tenth of the 22-acre site is open to the sky. Schmidt emphasizes that further research on Göbekli Tepe may change his current understanding of the site’s importance. Even its age is not clear—Schmidt is not certain he has reached the bottom layer. “We come up with two new mysteries for every one that we solve,” he says.” 

Around 8,000 BC, the creators of Gobekli turned on their achievement and entombed their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating the artificial hills on which that Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994. We don’t know why. Perhaps the flood buried it. Or perhaps it was because another, ‘better’ city was being built, this time, by Nimrod. Its name is Babylon.
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Below, stunning photos from National Geographic

The elegant bas-reliefs of vultures, scorpions, and other creatures found on the T-shaped pillars had to have been created by skilled artisans, evidence that hunter-gatherers were capable of a complex social structure.
Pillars at the temple of Göbekli Tepe—11,600 years old and up to 18 feet tall—may represent priestly dancers at a gathering. Note the hands above the loincloth-draped belt on the figure in the foreground.
Another common icon of the world’s first organized religion was snakes. This example was found on the back of a human head from Nevalı Çori.Artifact photographed at Şanliurfa Museum, Turkey.
Images of vultures, like this stone carving, have been found at Göbekli Tepe. Because the birds are traditionally associated with mortality, these depictions suggest that Göbekli Tepe may have been a place for rituals related to the spiritual power of the ancestral dead.

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