Here I am in the UK and I find myself at a spiritual/meditation group (The Rainbow Warriors). I sit next to a lovely woman called Hillary and in between meditating and healing sessions, we chat.
On discovering that I live in Turkey, Hilary tells me about an Author named Andrew Collins who writes about the mysterious. He recently gave a talk to the group, she said and had got them interested in a special place in Turkey, a place that is thousands of years old, reputedly the Garden of Eden she said. ‘’Well would you Adam & Eve it” I think, it’s not like it’s the most well-trodden of Turkish delights is it? ‘Was it called Gobeklitepe’ I ask her…… …….And so It seems that news of one of Turkey’s most fascinating ancient treasures has spread all the way to a little church hall in Southend-on-Sea.
As relayed by Hilary, Andrew Collins will be planning a trip this year and some of the group are going with him. Well I will be home by then so I may mosey on down and meet up with them.
As I have had a bit of time on my hands here in the UK, I’ve been revising and rejigging my online presence, however on checking my blog for Gobeklitepe, I find it’s not there…oooops! My visit to Gobeklitepe was in 2008 and should have made it to these pages before now. I did find that I’d published it on another site so you may have already read it as its been out there somewhere. Consequently, as part of my online presence clean up and, in tribute to small worlds, here it is, The Garden of Eden no less or, as they would have it in the East, ‘Top of the Belly’
”It’s a mid-November afternoon; I’m coatless and warmed by the sun as I stand on what is widely believed to be, the site of the Garden of Eden. Surrounded by a vast expanse of rolling countryside in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, the site of “Gobeklitepe” has changed the way the archeological world thinks about the past and how it evolved. This site is in fact older than the pyramids. It predates writing, pottery and the wheel. Yes, we are talking the real Flintstones!
Situated in the province of Sanliurfa, South Eastern Turkey and just 35 miles from the Syrian border, Gobeklitepe slowly emerges under the watch of German Archeologist Klaus Schmidt. The Dig continues from May through to October and therefore, sadly I have missed an opportunity to chat with the dig team.
The story goes that in 1964 a team of American archeologists first noticed dirt mounds in an area littered with flint. For some unexplained reason, they did not pursue it? Some 30 years later, a local shepherd tending his flock, noticed strange stones poking out of the dirt mounds. This is the story you will find if you do some research, however, as we wander around, the young native boy (who will spend his winter housed in a portacabin on site) tells us that the land actually belongs to his Grandfather and is now at the center of a legal wrangle between him and the Turkish Government. As yet, the site is not fully uncovered, but as I walk across man-made bridges the ochre megalith shapes show themselves and form circular groups like a mini Stonehenge. Each stone is shaped like the letter T. Some blank while others show carvings of birds, lizards, bulls and I could swear I can see the beak of a dodo and what look like baby brontosaurus! The one I like the best though is the tilki (fox). It strikes me then that when these stones were carved, the only thing available to the artist was the flint that is in abundance on the site.
My companions of the day are my husband, my mother in law an aunt and a cousin. They don’t understand the importance of the site, but they do show some pride that the discovery is on their ‘turf’ as it were.
At the top of the hill overlooking the site is a tiny graveyard in which sits a ‘wishing tree’. We women take five minutes to fabric to the branches and make that all important wish for the future. When I think about this later-, I realise that this tree is the only tree on the site and I can’t help thinking about the site of original sin and that Adam, that Eve and that snake that slithered down that tree encouraging the pair to eat that apple. Food for thought indeed.
Dursin and Ide have joined the boys further down the hill and automatically assume the squat position, feet flat to the floor. Its a maneuver they all perform with ease and can hold for hours. As they chat and bask in the glorious sunshine, I wander with my camera using the zoom lens as best I can, but with the dig currently inactive and a lot of the stones covered with cloth and cordoned off, I can’t capture them all, nor indeed can I touch them (huge disappointment for me as I am a great feeler!). Talking of touching, just two days earlier on a visit to Sanliurfa Museum, I came across the world’s oldest life-size statue; a stone man with obsidian eyes. He stands (holding his genitals) just inside the entrance and is only partially behind glass, meaning I have been able to run my hands over this ancient artifact with the security guard not even glimpsing up from his Newspaper. There is no pomp or ceremony surrounding him, just a plaque that dates him at some 9-10,000 years BC! Prior to this visit, I had no idea he existed, did you?
I find it astounding that millions of Tourist flock every year to see the wonders of Ancient Egypt, yet here in South Eastern Turkey the land is saturated with a history so ancient we are talking the Dawn of Civilization! The question remains, what exactly was the purpose of the site at Gobeklitepe? Research continues and until the dig is complete, which could last another 50 years, there is only speculation. According to the archeologist Klaus Schmidt, the site was not one of habitation but built for the purpose of worship and possibly an ancient burial ground. I leave the site knowing I will be back to check on the progress and can only hope the truth is uncovered in my lifetime.”
Before leaving the site we approach a few camels that have been grazing on one of the hills. They seem friendly enough so I try to stroke one. He gets a little excited and I step back and then I look over to Dursın to see her watching me. As she has been so engrossed with me she has not seen the camel that is now standing beside her with its nose making its way to her ear. Ide see’s all this at the same time and lets out a cry. Dusın shouts, jumps and runs and I nearly fall over laughing.