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Visions of a New Neolithic World

In the Taş Tepeler, or Stone Mounds, of southeastern Turkey’s Şanlıurfa Province, archaeologists have uncovered more than 20 sites dating to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 12,000 to 10,200 years ago) that share characteristics including monumental architecture and distinctive stone carvings. Taken together, these sites suggest something revolutionary was happening in the area at this time. (Credit for all photos: © Tolga Ildun.)

  • An overhead view of the excavation of one of the “special structures” at the Taş Tepeler site of Göbeklitepe, where archaeologists have been digging for more than 30 years.
  • A building at the Taş Tepeler site of Karahantepe was intentionally filled in during what archaeologists have called a termination ritual.
  • A carved pillar at Karahantepe depicts a snake, a common motif at Taş Tepeler sites.
  • One of the quarries at Karahantepe where residents gathered stone to create the site’s monumental structures.
  • A carved relief along the walls of one of the special structures at Karahantepe may depict a large snake.
  • This relief on a stone bench at the Taş Tepeler site of Sayburç is a portion of what may be the world’s first narrative.

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