Karahan Tepe
Inside the Great Sphinx

From some several miles from the ancient city of Harran lie the lesser known archaeological site: Karahan tepe – a rich archaeological site, that lies within the jurisdictions of Sanliyrfa in southeast Turkey. To be more specific, the megalithic remains depict a Neolithic settlement resting on the plateau commonly known as Tektek Mountains, located on the Harran plains within Urfa region.

The Neolithic depictions at karahan Tepe

Though the area has not been fully excavated probably as ways of preserving the hereditary taste of this ancient settlement, archaeologists have discovered several artifacts that depict the lost live-hood culture, region and other social-cultural aspects that have been long forgotten. From the analysis of these artifacts, one gets an insightfulness of the Charles Darwin theories of natural selection as they bring back the prehistoric Neolithic cultures practiced during the early Holocene epoch. The period is defined by the use of advanced stone-tool technology, domestication of animals and plants not excluding the hunting cultures.

Assemblages of Karahan Tepe

The artifact assemblages that depict lithic industry existence in the area include the small obsidian tools that lie long abandoned on the ground. The lack of a significant number of obsidian debris on the ground illustrates long distance sourcing of the obsidian material source. This is clear indication of social interactions within the geographical horizons of the Urfa plateau. Other stone artifacts from the area include flinted basalts, flat axes from river pebbles, stone bowls and an insignificant number of stone beads. Most of the flint related to the blade industries and high debitage of the basalts indicating a sophisticated lithic technology that was used in the preparation of arrowheads and other sharp objects that were used for hunting, the skinning of animals, and agricultural practices. These exist as the solid justification of Neolithic culture around the area and a reference site of animal domestication.

Karahan Tepe

Pre-pottery Neolithic occupation

Both legal and illegal excavation and collections have revealed a clear picture of occupation during the PPN (pre-pottery Neolithic period). Numerous pottery shard collections, grinding stones, and stone bowls give the picture of environmental and climatic changes that resulted in the desertification of the area. Different archeologists have associated the pottery shards with the domestication of plants as well as animal husbandry in the area. Therefore, with no doubt environmental condition at the time of occupation must have been very favorable to support both flora and fauna.

The Assorted collections ranging from small microlithic tools to complex tools found on different soil profile depicts nothing more than different occupation levels. This is an indication of a generation to generation occupation in the area due to its productivity.

Rock Painting

Rock painting on the T-shaped pillars creates the revolutionary aspect of animal husbandry by the occupant of the area during the onset of the Holocene epoch. On the T-shape pillars that appear to as great and sophisticated architectural work are the decorations of domestic mammals, wild animals not forgetting the snake paintings. The pillars, as well as the paintings, also reveals some religious practices in the area probably as ways of appeasing the gods to secure to secure their crops.

Why the site of Karahan Tepe has received less attention than its sister site of Gobekli Tepe is unknown. Gobekli Tepe has become world famous and excavations continue around the clock. For us to gain a full understanding of this distant epoch, Karahan Tepe will require the same amount of attention and due diligence before she reveals her secrets.

Liv Moore

About the Author: Liv Moore is a freelance writer currently pursuing a doctorate’s degree and has conducted successful research trips on the Eastern side of L.Turkana, Northern Kenya. She has also worked with some near-coming researchers as well as some prominent archeologists all over the world. She is a regular contributor to several scientific pieces and Ancient History Encyclopedia.


Never miss a post or episode of Lost Origins! Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates from your friends at Lost Origins.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

More in Gobekli Tepe, Lost Civilizations, Middle East
Angkor Wat - The Gallery Series
Angkor Wat – The Gallery Series

The wondrous and mysterious Cambodian site of Angkor Wat has drawn the attention of researchers and explorers since its discovery by missionaries in 1860. Swallowed by jungle, the lost city...