The Earliest Cult Centers in the World?: Göbekli Tepe and its Contemporaries

Date: Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Time: 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm
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Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 8 pm via Zoom

The Earliest Cult Centers in the World?: Göbekli Tepe and its Contemporaries

Jennifer Tobin


Since the time of their discovery in 1996, the ruins at Göbekli Tepe, near Şanlıurfa, Turkey, have generated heated discussions among archaeologists.   Excavations have revealed a series of large, circular structures, whose two central T-shaped pillars supported wooden roofs.  Other, smaller T-pillars were incorporated into the buildings’ stone walls.  Carvings of animals adorned these pillars – birds, bulls, foxes, spiders, snakes, and scorpions – suggesting that cultic activities occurred here.


Remarkably, these buildings were constructed in the 10th millennium BCE, at a time when the builders had not yet adopted the arts of agriculture and animal husbandry.  This presentation reviews the controversies surrounding the function of the buildings, as well as the circumstances of their construction and demolition.  It will also demonstrate that Göbekli Tepe is not a unique phenomenon, by presenting a recently discovered contemporary site, Karahan Tepe.


Jennifer Tobin, Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Cost: $7 per lecture; $35 annual membership

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Donald O Kane