Back then, on the day I arrived at the dig, the archaeologists were unearthing mind-blowing artworks.
About three years ago, intrigued by the first scant details of the site, I flew out to Gobekli.
Imagine carved and slender versions of the stones of Avebury or Stonehenge. The stones seem to represent human forms - some have stylised 'arms', which angle down the sides.Most of these standing stones are inscribed with bizarre and delicate images - mainly of boars and ducks, of hunting and game. Functionally, the site appears to be a temple, or ritual site, like the stone circles of Western Europe.But several unique factors lift Gobekli Tepe into the archaeological stratosphere - and the realms of the fantastical. Gobekli hails from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, right back in our hunter-gatherer past. Schmidt speculates that bands of hunters would have gathered sporadically at the site, through the decades of construction, living in animal-skin tents, slaughtering local game for food.Gobekli is thus the oldest such site in the world, by a mind-numbing margin. This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something like Gobekli, is worldchanging, for it shows that the old hunter-gatherer life, in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived - almost unbelievably sophisticated.
The site of Gobekli Tepe is simple enough to describe.
The oblong stones, unearthed by the shepherd, turned out to be the flat tops of awesome, T-shaped megaliths.