Where is the cradle of all religions?
The story of a 12,000 years old site that is about to change the history of the world.
Until the age of enlightenment, we used to rely on the holy books of the Heavely Religions to talk about the history of humankind and religions. Based on the Old Testament, it was said the world was 6000 years old. Then, astronomy discovered the age of the universe to be 13.9 billion years. Geology discovered Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Anthropology discovered that human like forms first appeared few million years ago with Homo-Sapiens coming into play 65,000 years ago. Darwin`s Theory of Evolution showed us the process of evolution of life from simple life forms to complex forms and that our journey as humans did not start with a highly-evolved human form. This would be debated harshly for a long time until Vatican would accept Darwin`s Theory within the 2nd half of 20th century. In 19th century discovery of Summerian civilization in Mesopotamia and their mythys which were also talking about the story of Eden and Noah`s Ark 3000 years before Old Testament, created so many question marks. Despite rejections, it was interesting to see that the story of Eden and Noah`s Ark was also told in ancient Vedic literature, Mayans and other cultures with different versions of the similar story. It was as if an ancient knowledge was buried to be rediscovered ages later by seekers of Truth.
Until recently, we knew that Hinduism was the oldest belief system in the world. The believers of three great heavenly religions call their belief systems as religion but to others belief and doctrines due to the source of these doctines not being from God. However, belief is an essential and integral part of our lives. Belief is a psychological need of us. We are meaning making mammals with a highly functioning brain which has evolved to consist of 3 main centers; reptilian brain (brain stem), limbic brain and neocortex. Limbic brain is the part responsible for emotions and it is in strong connection with our memory through hippocampus. The pituitary gland, which is called the master gland because it controls the activity of most other homone-secreting glands, is also a part of the limbic system. External stimuli coming from our sense to our brain triggers amygdala which triggers hypothalamus which triggers the pituitary gland that controls the hormonal management of the body. Do you see how emotions effect our hormones and reactions such as fight-flee-freeze responses. Neocortex is the rational brain and wants to know and control everything while the limbic system comes up with feelings and emotions which are intangible. Thus the mind rationalizes things and belief is a system that comes as a mechanism to create a meaning for the unknown. Thousands of years ago the portion of unknown was very big so early people filled the gap with myths and deitification of natural phonemonon. With the development of philosophy and later advancement of science, many unknowns of the past became known data and in-use information for us reducing the portion of the unknown. Let us not be arrogant and admit that despite our cutting edge technology and advanced science, we are still like a crawling baby in front of the wide open doors of nature waiting to be discovered.
I tried to portray above why belief is a basic human need because our scientists deducted over the last 200 years that humans started as hunter-gatherer societies and then developed to organize in tribes and then cities and only then the belief systems started. That theory seems to be wrong with a recent discovery and we are at the edge of re-writing the known history.
A discovery in 1995 in Gobeklitepe, Urfa in modern Turkey close to Syria border has changed this assumption. Because, the archeologists discovered a new settlement dedicated only to rituals of a belief system what we still have not understood yet. Till now only 4 circular and elliptical constructions without roof have been excavated and there are at least 16 more under the ground waiting to see the sun again after 12,000 years. These 20 constructions were built over a period of 1000 years and then were covered by earth by the people who build them as if they intended to preserve them for future generations. The perfect masonry of these constructions for that period, the T shaped stones in the very middle of the buildings that creates a low tone sound when knocked, similar T shaped stones laid out in the circumstance of the circular and elliptical constructions are full of carvings of animals which are not from that region and have a symbolic meaning. No one had lived in that area with families and established a city life. This place was used only for complex rituals of a belief system before everything we know. To build such constructions and such a complex belief system, it is said that a long history is needed. That site was built 12,000 years ago, 7000 years before the Summerians started their civilization. Gobeklitepe is close to Urfa which is called the city of prophets through the history and lies at the top of the fertile cresdent. Similar sites such as Nevali Cori, Catalhoyuk were found in Turkey that dates 9000 to 10,000 years ago but Gobeklitepe is older than all. What a mystery, is it not? As I mentioned above, it seems religion and ancient belief systems had existed even before the establishment of cities and early nations.
I will stop here to explain more about Gobeklitepe in one of my next articles. World is bigger than what we see, universe is more than what we perceive and facts are beyond our knowledge. So, in this century of technological quantum leap, let us be ready to replace our old thinking and belief patterns with new ones as the world will never be the same again in the next 20 years. Lay back and watch to learn more from this new age.