Researchers have now used architectural analysis to discover that geometry informed the layout of Göbekli Tepe's impressive round stone structures and enormous assembly of limestone pillars, which they say were initially planned as a single structure.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority have now used architectural analysis to discover that geometry informed the layout of Göbekli Tepe's impressive round stone structures and enormous assembly of limestone pillars, which they say were initially planned as a single structure.
Three of the Göbekli Tepe's monumental round structures, the largest of which are 20 meters in diameter, were initially planned as a single project, according to researchers Gil Haklay of the Israel Antiquities Authority, a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Avi Gopher of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. They used a computer algorithm to trace aspects of the architectural design processes involved in the construction of these enclosures in this early Neolithic site.
- 1. Most researchers have made the case that the Göbekli Tepe enclosures at the main excavation area were constructed over time. However, Haklay and Prof. Gopher say that three of the structures were designed as a single project and according to a coherent geometric pattern. "The layout of the complex is characterized by spatial and symbolic hierarchies that reflect changes in the spiritual world and in the social structure," Haklay explains. "In our research, we used an analytic tool -- an algorithm based on standard deviation mapping -- to identify an underlying geometric pattern that regulated the design."
- 2. "This research introduces important information regarding the early development of architectural planning in the Levant and in the world," Prof. Gopher adds. "It opens the door to new interpretations of this site in general, and of the nature of its megalithic anthropomorphic pillars specifically." Certain planning capabilities and practices, such as the use of geometry and the formulation of floor plans, were traditionally assumed to have emerged much later than the period during which the Göbekli Tepe was constructed -- after hunter-gatherers transformed into food-producing farmers some 10,500 years ago. Notably, one of the characteristics of early farmers is their use of rectangular architecture. "This case of early architectural planning may serve as an example of the dynamics of cultural changes during the early parts of the Neolithic period," Haklay says. "Our findings suggest that major architectural transformations during this period, such as the transition to rectangular architecture, were knowledge-based, top-down processes carried out by specialists.
Gil Haklay, Avi Gopher. Geometry and Architectural Planning at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 2020; 30 (2): 343 DOI: 10.1017/S0959774319000660
The site of Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey keeps fascinating archaeologists as it is being exposed. The excavation since 1995 has been accompanied by a lively discussion about the meaning and implications of its remarkable early Neolithic megalithic architecture, unprecedented in its monumentality, complexity and symbolic content. The building history and the chronological relations between the different structures (enclosures), however, remain in many ways a challenge and open to further analysis. The study presented here is an attempt to contribute in this direction by applying a preliminary architectural formal analysis in order to reconstruct aspects of the architectural design processes involved in the construction of the monumental enclosures. This is done under the premise that such investigation would shed light on the chaîne opératoire of the enclosures' construction and their history, thus enabling a fresh look as well as an evaluation of past suggestions regarding these structures and the people who built them. Indeed, the results of the analysis brought to light an underlying geometric pattern which offers a new understanding of the assemblage of architectural remains indicating that three of the stone-built large enclosures were planned and initially built as a single project.