The uncovering of the stunning megalithic architecture of Göbekli Tepe in modern day Türkiye less than three decades ago turned our view of pre-history upside down, with the massive t-shaped pillars of the site pre-dating the pyramids and Stonehenge by some six or seven thousand years. But while it took the spotlight, archaeologists in the area continued finding other, similar sites with impressive architecture and dating back the same mind-boggling stretch in time, some 10,000 years before present.
One of the sites that has become well-known recently is Karahan Tepe (perhaps most notably after it was covered in Graham Hancock’s Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse). But another, lesser known site that lies further to the east may end up being even more important: Boncuklu Tarla. Discovered during construction work on the Ilısu Dam in 2008, it has undergone excavation over the last 11 years and has already turned up many things of note.
Like the other ancient sites of that time in Turkey, Boncuklu Tarla features a walled ‘temple’ with rock pillars – but they appear to predate Göbekli Tepe by a thousand years or so (though the pillars don’t appear to be as impressive), with the earliest layer of the site dating back a staggering 13,000 years. What’s more, the excavation over the past eleven years has worked through multiple layers of the site, with dating of those layers suggesting that it was occupied for around 4,000 years – from around 11,000 BCE to 7,000BCE!