“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder”
Arnold Toynbee, who wrote about the rise and fall of 26 civilizations.
This chapter is about religion; not spirituality! It is included here because religion is the nexus between the spiritual realm and the moral laws that makes social harmony possible. Religions not only provided us with our first coherent understandings of the spiritual realm, but they have always been the force that first bound diverse people together into coherent civilizations.
Göbekli Tepe is a neolithic archaeological site in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Archaeological evidence places it in the Göbekli Tepere-pottery neolithic, roughly the 10th to 9th millennia BC. (between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago). These structures are classified as the oldest known megaliths ever found. This dates them to a time even before the invention of farming when there were no permanent human settlements and people lived in small bands of nomadic hunters and gatherers.
There is little evidence of human habitation within or around the Göbekli Tepe archaeological dig, and archaeologists believe that the site was built by these ancient people as a spiritual center around which isolated family clans could peacefully congregate for communal worship of their ancestral spirits and gods. These complex stone structures were built at a time before humankind had even learned how to build permanent homes.
In primitive stone age times, everyone lived in isolated family clans which competed with each other for available resources. Wars between the clans was common. Death was everywhere and could happen at any time for any number of reasons, and sometimes for no apparent reason. Only two things were certain; death and the spirits of your dead loved ones. Communication with the dead has always been a universal human trait, and the ancients needed all the help they could get to overcome the vagaries of their hard lives.
This site of worship is the first known place where diverse clans could gather in peace. They could put down their weapons here and form real connections with people in other clans. This is what civilization is all about! Here, they could share their rituals and agree on peaceful co-existence. This is likely the very first civilization ever founded. It formed around religious ritual, and so did every civilization that came into being after it..