Q: How do they know the recently uncovered sculpture is a
A: They don't know. Schmidt thinks it may be a reptile
but isn't sure. Gobekli Tepe is so bizarre - and the newest finds so
mysterious - that no consensus has yet developed. Others believe the
sculpture shows a wolf, a cat, or some other mammal. It possibly
represents a kind of animal-spirit, watching over the dead.
Q: Is there really a link with the Garden of Eden?
A: The idea that the Eden story is a kind of allegorical
folk memory - of the switch from hunter-gathering to farming - is
not a new one: it's been canvassed by writer Hugh Brody, among
others. What is new is the combination of data that links Genesis to
this area of Turkey, and very early farming to this area: thus
placing a 'metaphorical Eden' arguably in these environs. However,
Klaus Schmidt emphasises that this is just a theory: "Gobekli Tepe
is extraordinary enough, without speculation".
Q: How does the world of archaeology perceive Gobekli?
A: Academics agree on the site's revolutionary
implications for our view of Stone Age civilisation and religion. No
one knew Neolithic people were this artistic and leisured. Harald
Hauptman at Heidelberg University believes the discoveries at
Gobekli rank with the first uncovering of cave paintings in Lascaux,
in France in the 1940s. South African expert in Palaeolithic art
David Lewis Williams calls Gobekli Tepe "the most important
archaeological dig anywhere in the world".