Stonehenge, famously built roughly 4500 years ago, is perhaps a former temple of Bronze Age inhabitants of what is now the United Kingdom. Its purpose upon construction — and virtually everything else about the mysterious stone monument circle — has been lost to antiquity. And while many believe it was a temple of sorts, it is certainly not the oldest of its kind — not by a long shot. That honor goes to Göbekli Tepe, a mountain-top temple in Turkey, over 2,000 miles from Stonehenge — and over 6,000 years older.
The oldest man-made place of worship this far discovered, Göbekli Tepe sits on the highest point on a small mountain range just north of Turkey’s border with Syria. Pictured right, via here, the site may also be the first place humans — previously nomadic — set up permanent homes. Some of the pillars are engraved with symbols depicting animals such as lions, snakes, birds, and foxes, as well as other pictograms whose meanings have been long lost.
Also found at the site? Thus far, at least one statute of a human form, as seen here. But for the most part, the site is one of mystery — a window into the prehistoric people of its time.
Bonus fact: Destinations from antiquity are not, of course, unique to Turkish mountain ranges. A fifteen minute drive from St. Louis are the Cahokia Mounds, the remnants of a city from 3,000 years ago, and probably the largest city in North America during its time. It features “Woodhenge,” a series of Stonehenge-like structures, but made of wood.
From the Archives: Turkey and Chickens: How cars go to Turkey to get magically cheaper.
Related: “ The World Encyclopedia of Archaeology: The World’s Most Significant Sites and Cultural Treasures” by Dr. Aedeen Cremin. Four stars on four reviews.