It would seem that this particular dig has been happening for about 17 years, yet surprisingly little exists about it in the anglosphere. It precedes Göbekli Tepe and is a village or “settlement” rather than a meeting place.
I ran into this video via the Roku YouTube, that seems to have a very different algorithm for what it offers as “recommended” so ranges more widely. Just a minor perturbation in what you watch or search for sends it off in whole new directions. This is a trait I value as I have “novelty seeking behavior” and the removal of it was largely what drove me away from Google.
So I was watching Star Trek Continues (a fairly good fan movie series on YouTube) and then popped out for a fresh mug of morning coffee and decided to see what else was being offered. It has figured out I like old archaeology things, and this video was in the mix. What is Körtik Tepe I wondered? It’s that curiosity tickle that I really like ;-)
Before getting into that, note that the presenter is largely reading an English translation of a site in some other language. My best guess is that the original language was Turkish based on a few language structure clues and what a search on the name of the place offers, but who knows.
Here’s the search, and most of it is in foreign languages:
The only wiki I found in a quick look at the top couple of pages was in Latin…
Körtik Tepe est locus archaeologicus in provincia Amida Turciae situs, mox sub aquis molis Ilısu inundaturus. Ibi anno 1990 reperta sunt vestigia habitationis hominum Neolithicorum aevi aceramici. Cum ossibus mortuorum repertae sunt paterae e lapide chlorite [en] factae, figuris animalium, avium, serpentium, scorpionum sculptis ornatae, fere omnes fractae.
Which given what little Latin I can decode seems to just say it is an archaeology site in the Amida province of Turkey. A Neolithic habitation and with things made in chlorite stone with various animal figures on them. Birds, snakes, scorpions ornately sculpted. Yes I skipped over the bits where the brain gave me null. Yes, I know there’s a Google Translate feature. No, I didn’t care that much…
The Video (and the web site it is reading) refer to Göbekli Tepe as a religious worship site, thus tickling my usual “Oh My God do these folks not know people gather for commerce and parties far more than for religion?” WHY must every single thing they can’t explain suddenly become religious worship? IMHO, far more likely would be that it was a place where various animals were bought and sold. Each round pen marked with a big billboard showing the animal. Folks could walk around at the higher level, point at what they wanted for dinner (or a pet?) and buy it. Or equally plausible, it was a zoo. Look at our zoos, and what do you see? LOTS of big signs with pictures of the animals. Enclosures for those animals with lots of walls and not so many steps in and out. Just like there.
Now if, say, you had a civilization spread over camel distance of 200 miles, think it could support an Auction Barn or a Zoo / University? Rather similar to what we do today?
Why a zoo? This was just after the Younger Dryas Impact event. That destroyed megafauna in North and South America and had some damage in Europe. These folks would be on the edge of the damage and then subject to the global cold plunge. Might this have been an “ark”? Where they saved what animals they could “2 by 2”? Makes more sense to me than folks milling about holes in the ground worshiping totems of animals 100 miles from home…
OK, that one gripe out of the way…
They also make some noises about “eating plants but not farming” due to not finding farm implements in this small town. Well Duh! You find farm implements on the FARM not in the TOWN. You don’t drag your plow a mile back home just to drag it back out again the next day. You park it at the edge of the field. We know ancient people were doing at a minimum crude farming far before there were cities. Encouraging the plants they liked the most. My belief is that farming was far older than expected. Now, would a hardened wood plough survive 12,000 years at the edge of a field? Just like boats, the answer is no.
Where you have real hunter / gatherers, they live in disbursed households. Look at hunting cats, a single large range to support one solitary cat. You just can’t have a small city living on hunting and gathering without folks needing to range incredibly far from home to find enough to hunt and gather. The town disperses into camps. That this is a small town tells me most of them were not hunting & gathering for a living. They were making stone tools, bowls, etc. and trading for things. Then, either they were surrounded by a dispersed hunter gatherer group to support them, or more likely IMHO, farmers who had excess food to trade for hammers, awls, sewing kits, etc. But a farmers wooden hut, wooden plough, and ox are not going to show up in the archaeological digs.
Well, with that other gripe out of the way, here’s the video:
This web site, in Turkish, has some of the same photos as the video but much better resolution:
This one, in translation – hey it offered me the translate box ;-), looks similar, in what little I’ve looked at, to the one being read in the video:
I’m really surprised that a 17+ year long dig, finding a town from the Younger Dryas is not showing up at all in the English internet…
Now Consider: The Younger Dryas Impact will have been a Global Reset after a Global Warming catastrophe, and then followed by a global flood catastrophe. What are the odds that advanced (relatively) civilization from before those events would survive them? Yeah, near zero.
We warmed suddenly and dramatically out of the Ice Age Glacial, just as folks were coping with that, a cluster of comet fragments destroyed North America, set off the equivalent of thousands of nuclear bombs in the sky, set off a huge firestorm making a “black mat” all over the place. THEN the world plunges back into a glacial, and 1000 years later has dramatic and catastrophic flooding of THE best places to live (like Doggerland) where there were fertile lands near the sea for fishing. Comet debris impacts into the oceans and seas would have swamped any boats and wiped out the fishing / sailing villages, then the floods would wipe out any survivors on land. Everyone would “head for the hills”.
Which is where this village is found. At the head of a long valley on a hilltop plane. Away from the threat of ocean inundation.
Then these surviving folks would be trying just to get enough to eat and not really worried much about preserving a civilization. In short order they would be living a “stone age life style” as metals and advanced manufactures and such would no longer be available. In fact, this is exactly part of my “Post Apocalypse Plan”. Drop back to that level of history where the available materials support it. IF possible, to the 1800s and set up a smithy reworking scrap metal into desired stuff. If required, to the 1200s and having a patch of farm (with a very small forge set up). If all else fails, work stone into hammers, knives, axes, etc. and go for stone age hunter gatherer with a skin lined stick hut.
Then along comes “modern” archaeology and decides everything is a uniformitarian single line of advancement and nobody did anything interesting for 200,000 years until the Sumerians and Egyptians… Ah, no. Hieroglyphic writing shows up as a fully formed complex system that has evolved traits. Sumerian is already doing very complicated weights, measures, math, and more. These are recovering societies, not de novo. The Egyptians even said they had history going back about 30,000 years. The Indian records say something very similar.
It is my belief that we will, eventually, find the stuff in the mud to prove that, but not until we start excavations 300 feet down in the coastal planes where the shorelines were 20,000 years ago.
In that context, IMHO, the proper interpretation of a village from the middle of this catastrophic period and on the edge of the destruction, is as a remnant population starting the long slow process of recovery after a dramatic global climate and impact catastrophe. Doing “what you can with what you have” and that is stone, animals, fishing, and some plants / wood. Doing well enough to set up a regional “trading post” with animals in show pits / pens and likely a large collection of “tents” around that with various pottery, awls, needles, bowls, etc. etc. all being traded.
They still faced 2 major traumas. First, the Taurid stream returns every year, but has a couple of cyclical strengthening weakening cycles in it (mostly as we wobble into the center of the debris field or out to the edge). Some a few years, at least one up to 3000 years long. At first, this would be far more damaging than it is now, with 12,000 years of debris removed from the stream… Second, eventually the Younger Dryas ended and things dramatically warmed. The local climate and flora / fauna would shift dramatically and likely at a catastrophic pace. Water / precipitation changes dramatically and “water is life”. My guess would be that they had to pack up and move, from the whole region, to places with better opportunities. So they covered what they could with sand to preserve it for the return that never happened.
What isn’t known is just how unique they were. A “one off” local advanced surviving group? A “remote area” that moved only to find advanced peoples surviving in places like The Levant? Were they surrounded by lots of others, but the others didn’t leave masonry villages and stone tools? Did everyone just shift to migrating tribes to adjust to dramatic swings of weather, following the herds like American Natives? I doubt we will ever know.
But if you do not put yourself in the context of their times and ask what would a rational people do, you can not ever come close. Weather and Climate and Precipitation drive hunter gatherers and farmers alike. Drought and flood and crop failures are central concerns. Still to this day in small farm towns like the one where I grew up. The local animal auction was more important than church (at least to the farmers and ranchers). Yeah, everyone dressed up for Sunday, but it was more an obligation than central to success. The County Fair was at least 1/2 devoted to showing and trading animals and crafts. We had a huge building filled with folks showing off pies and canned / preserved foods, knitting and sewing crafts. The animal judging was a really big event. The “carnival” part of it pleased the kids, but the adults were interested in the other bits.
That’s what is missing when these “professional” archaeologists pontificate about “Ritual Site Of Worship”… the nitty gritty of real rural life. Don’t talk to me about the worshiping of the pig-stone-obelisk, point me toward the Pig-Showing-Ring and the BBQ Ribs stand outside!