Washington, March 10 : Reseacrh work regarding a large 11,000-year-old ceremonial center at Gobekli Tepe ("navel hill") in Turkey by archaeologists has suggested that it was the need for communal rituals that led to the rise of civilization.
Gobekli Tepe is situated on the most prominent hilltop for miles around. It consists of at least 20 underground rooms that contain a number of T-shaped stone pillars that are 8 feet tall and weigh about 7 tons. The pillars are engraved with images of animals, including leopards, snakes and spiders.
According to German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, "This is not a place where people lived. It's as far away from water as you can get in this region. Instead, it's a place of ceremony.
In fact, Schmidt determines it to be "the first manmade holy place."
To find such a large ceremonial center at such an early time period suggests that it was the need for communal rituals that first brought people together. Agriculture, pottery, domesticated animals and cities all came later.
According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch, the research suggests that perhaps it was religion and not technology that fomented the Neolithic Revolution and led to the rise of civilization.
Previously, "ceremonial objects" were the odd bits left over after archaeologists had identified arrowheads, cooking pots and other objects with more or less obvious functions.
Sometimes, these leftovers were exceptionally beautiful works of art, but it was considered unscientific speculation to attempt to reconstruct the beliefs behind their creation and use.
Now, however, it's generally recognized that ceremonial objects and structures can provide key insights into many facets of ancient cultures.