Creation Ministries GÃ¶bekli Tepe is a site just north of the Syrian-Turkish border on a ridge overlooking a wide valley to the south. It has been in the news a lot lately, prompting several people to write in and ask about our view. For instance, Travis H., whose question is published below with a response from Lita Cosner and Dr. Robert Carter. As there is so much that is uncertain about the find at present, these should be taken as preliminary comments which may change depending on how the story develops.
I recently watched a piece on GÃ¶bekli Tepe, and was frustrated by all of the assumptions they were willing to change so they would not have to question the dating. I was hoping you guys would be willing to put a response together. [Link deleted per our feedback rules] Dear Travis,
Thanks for writing in. Weâ€™ve gotten several questions lately regarding GÃ¶bekli Tepe.
First, we find it rather curious that this site is being used as if itâ€™s something that should be a big challenge to creationists because of the date. Our response to that is the same as the dates that put the earliest Egyptian pyramids before the biblical date for the Flood and those that claim dinosaurs died out 65 million years agoâ€”the dates are wrong. In this case the dates are based on carbon dating, something weâ€™ve written much about previously. We would agree though that itâ€™s probably one of the earliest big human monuments we haveâ€”a tentative dating would put it soon after the Flood. The siteâ€™s location is about perfect for it to be the product of one of the early post-Flood or post-dispersion people groups to have built it.
To put things in perspectiveâ€”archaeologists are claiming that, 12,000 years ago, people were capable of carving these huge monuments. This is supposed to be long before any sort of written language, thousands of years before the Egyptian pyramids, and prior to the settlement of Sumer. Out of nowhere, we have this ancient monument, and then humans supposedly put down their chisels and donâ€™t build anything for thousands of years moreâ€”but when they do, we get Sumer and the Egyptian pyramids. This stretches credulity.
The video you sent observes that the kinds of animals described vary from current biodiversity in the area, and therefore it might be evidence of many types of animals existing in the area that currently donâ€™t live there. This would also fit with the biblical narrative. Post-flood, it would take a while for the animal populations to spread out to where we find them today, and we would expect many shifts in species composition as ecological changes occur and as interspecies competitions and associations ebb and flow. Also, there is evidence that the land is now much drier than it was in historical times (many dry wells in plain to the south, for example).
In several places the archaeologists marvel that we have this huge stone monument with no toolsâ€”several people repeat this in the video as if itâ€™s very extraordinary. But just thinkâ€”we have skyscrapers with no cranes around them, no scaffolding, no jackhammers or tools. This is because the tools were removed after construction was finished. This is even more likely as an explanation in the case of GÃ¶bekli Tepe if it was in use for some time before being buried.
The identity of GÃ¶bekli Tepeâ€™s builders is also problematic. Supposedly, they are hunter-gatherers, but there is a very basic problem with thisâ€”hunter-gatherer societies donâ€™t have the specialization of labor necessary to free up workers for something of this scaleâ€”hunter-gatherers donâ€™t build great big monuments, because theyâ€™re too busy, well, hunting and gathering. Itâ€™s not an efficient way to get food (see also An ancient textile factory?).
Only 5% of GÃ¶bekli Tepe has been uncoveredâ€”who knows what will be discovered as the other circles are excavated. At this point, archaeologists are making tons of assumptions that they canâ€™t possibly know. They have a little bit of data, to which they add a lot of assumptions to give the narrative gloss so that the History Channel can make a compelling piece on it. Yet, it fits well in creationist assumptionsâ€”not far from where we think Noahâ€™s Ark probably landed, thereâ€™s an incredibly ancient monument that shows amazing human artistic skill and engineering ability, and it depicts lots of animals that arenâ€™t in the area today.
Another piece of evidence that we uncoveredâ€”the once-fertile plain to the south of GÃ¶bekli Tepe is the site of the biblical Haran, a mere 25 miles away. This is where Abraham lived for several years during his familyâ€™s migration from Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of Canaan. It is where Terah settled and died, and from whence Isaac and Jacob both obtained their wives. It is uncertain what the association between these two places might be, but thereâ€™s a lot of tantalizing circumstantial evidence that they are somehow connected. The people of Haran should have known of the existence of GÃ¶bekli Tepe at the very least, assuming the biblical history is true. Whatever the outcome, we are confident that the evidence will be able to be interpreted in line with biblical assumptions.
Lita Cosner and Dr. Robert Carter http://creation.com/gobekli-tepe