An 11, 000 year old temple discovered in Turkey suggests an alternative theory of the development of cities and civilizations:
The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it’s the site of the world’s oldest temple.
Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures.
But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.
Also check out the pictures of the monoliths: haunting millennia-old artwork.
[story here, via Slashdot]
Things aren’t always what they seem. More than 200 years ago, General (and future U.S. President) William Henry Harrison decided that a structure at the confluence of the Ohio and Miami Rivers was a fort. Now University of Cincinnati archaeologists and anthropologists say it’s really an irrigation system built by the Shawnee to deal with long-term drought.
Two points stand out: one is that the engineering expertise required to conceive of such a massive irrigation system must have been far greater than what history has traditionally assigned to Native American groups from that time in history, and the second is that the cultural priority of engaging in such a massive undertaking as building these earthworks by hand was done by this culture not because of military motivations but for a more civil cause.
The builders were probably women, too.
[Photo: Ohio River, Chris Breeze]