If there was ever a place in need of Dr Michael Scott and Alexander Armstrong’s 3D scanning technology, as used in Italy’s Invisible Cities, look no further than the archaeological site in Southern Turkey named Göbekli Tepe.
In 1996, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt made one of the most significant archaeological finds of modern times — 11,000-year-old megaliths arranged in a striking, purposeful formation by ancient peoples who were yet to develop the tools to fashion such impressiveness. What’s a megalith? A great big carved stone, that’s what. And Göbekli Tepe makes Stonehenge seem positively infantile by comparison, predating it by at least 6000 years.
Schmidt would spend the last 18 years of his life leading the excavation of Göbekli Tepe, and three years before a fatal 2014 heart attack, he estimated that only five percent of the site had been excavated, meaning that remnants of an entire city may sit hidden underground.
Mystery breeds controversy
One of the most fascinating and chilling aspects of the site is the fact that the construction of these megaliths makes no sense. The consensus is that only hunter-gatherers could have frequented the area at the time and therefore are responsible for the megaliths, despite being primitive folk who were incapable of such advanced construction. Even more chilling is the fact that no evidence of a functioning society has been unearthed – giving rise to the wacky conspiracy theory that this is the work of extraterrestrial beings.
But in this specific nook of the archaeological community, consensus is power. Mainstream archaeologists and geologists have a stronghold on the scientific status quo, with little to no interest in such entertaining theories from alternative thinkers – no matter how much painstaking research has been conducted in support of their often-convincing theories. Or at least, that’s what alternative theorists would have us believe.
Once Schmidt passed, renegade journalist and author Graham Hancock took the baton and became the go-to guy when it comes to Göbekli Tepe, and his theories are infectious.
Graham Hancock is often saddled with the label of a pseudo-archaeologist, but that doesn’t make his ideas any less tantalising. He's known for his evolving belief in a global, highly advanced civilisation that thrived before a cataclysmic climate event wiped out mankind and all proof of its existence. Master builder and geologist Randall Carlson and other fringe scientists work with Hancock, and have collated a massive amount of data that support the renewed cataclysm theory.
When it comes to Göbekli Tepe, Hancock is convinced that an advanced society moved into the area and traded technology with the hunter-gatherers. Freakier still is the assertion that this arrangement of stone monuments is oriented towards true north and true south, as well as aligned with various significant celestial bodies.
The mainstream like to quash men like Hancock due to some of the more outlandish theories he put forward as a younger writer, but he remains steadfast in his belief that Tepe will force us to rewrite history, insisting the onus to get to the literal bottom of this whole situation is on the scientific community; that the truth lies within the vast remainder of untouched history waiting in the site’s belly.
I guess we’ll just have to be a bit patient.
Watch the final episode of Italy’s Invisible Cities at SBS On Demand: