Holiday season at the end of the year offers some time to calm down and contemplate the past year. Media, of course, traditionally help this purpose by airing classic Christmas shows like Bruce Willis’ “Die Hard” and, following the nature of the feast, quite some reflections on cult and religion.
This year, German radio station Deutschlandfunk [external link] asks for the origin of religion and civilisation in its programme on Forschung aktuell: Wissenschaft im Brennpunkt (Current Research: Science in the Spotlight – external link). Under the title “Glaube versetzt Steine” (Faith moves Stones) journalist Volkart Wildermuth is approaching this question from psychology, archaeology, and ethnology – including a strong focus on our own research at Neolithic Göbekli Tepe.
“Five metre high T-shaped pillars surrounded by a circle of smaller pillars, this is Göbekli Tepe. It is not clear which cult once was followed here. But it is certain that these monumental structures were not built by some sophisticated civilisation, but by hunters and gatherers 10,000 years ago. This raises a central question: Could it be that spiritual needs brought together these people? Did faith came first – and then civilisation? Göbekli Tepe is an impressing unique find. But other data from psychology, archaeology, and ethnology are shedding a new light onto the complex interplay of spirituality, economy, and society.”
(Translated from Deutschlandfunk’s programme round-up.)
The show airs coming Boxing Day, Monday the 26th of December at 16:30 o’clock on Deutschlandfunk (on air and via online stream). The programme is in German language; a transcript (also in German) is available online [external link].
Our meat eating hominid ancestors were hunter gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years. All over the globe this appears to have been the way of life. It is nomadic. Something pretty significant must have occurred to change that nomadism. Building and visiting a big monument which cant be taken with you appears linked in with that change. Hunter gathers both modern and ancestral appear to have eaten meat fruit and vegetables with little or no grain consumption. Partly due to technology not being present and partly, I suspect, due to a preference for the higher nutrition and better taste of meat fruit and vegetables. The settling down into one place was a big change – whatever the reason actually was.
merry xmas and a happy new year
Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts on this issue. Even in mobile hunter societies vegetable food must have played an important role – as basic supplement and sometimes probably even substitute. Recent research has shed an interesting light on the preparation of plants and grains (Via BBC.com: “Prehistoric porridge? First pots for plant cooking found” – external link) and cereals (and other plants) actually did play a role at Göbekli Tepe as well. A recently started project is looking into exactly this peculiar role of (vegetable) food at Göbekli Tepe.