12,000 years ago, a group of people built a large village in Turkey. First excavated in 1995, it’s age and much more has been determined, though excavations continue and discoveries are still being made.
The oldest known village ever discovered was found in France and is 120,000 years old! Yet the beginnings of our recorded history date back only about 3500 years. This may change with Gobekli Tepe, as only about 5 % of the village has been excavated.
The sophistication of the great many carvings found, the terrazzo floors, the precision work on monuments and other carved stone objects is amazing, especially since the archaeologists so far believe these people to have been hunter-gatherers who had no agriculture, no pottery and no use of the wheel.
Somehow I doubt this early conclusion by them, as 11,500 year old pottery has been found in graves not far off. That they haven’t found any at the village site so far may not mean anything. There’s no references yet to a midden, or dump, where the people would have disposed of their trash, and for every village there’s always a dump, and that’s where the pottery shards would be.
This has pushed the liklihood of an advanced human civilization back beyond 12,000 years, as the level of technology that produced this village certainly was not developed on the spot by a tribe of hunter-gatherers. To 15,000 years? 30,000 years?
That village in France, 120,000 years old, built by modern humans, had fireplaces and wood huts framed up by burying poles in the earth to form the walls. How long had that technology been around? How long have modern humans really been around? So far, the date’s been pushed back to about 200,000 years ago now and it keeps getting edged back further as more discoveries keep being made.
Older and older cities keep being found, often through analysis of satellite data, as details on the ground can often only be seen from high above. The oldest city was thought to be Jericho, at 7,800 years old, until another older one was found in Mesopotamia at 9000 years old. Now we have Gobekli Tepe at 12,000 years old and far more advanced in many aspects than the other, newer ones.
I would not be surprised if an advanced civilization were found that dated to 50,000 years ago. The Earth covers itself and buries itself. Wind blows and dust rises and settles and solidifies, and forgotton cities are soon mounds of dirt. We’ve just begun to realize the possibilities of our own past, and who knows what we may yet discover?