Benny Waszk, M.A.


Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Research Training Group 1876
Hegelstr. 59
55122 Mainz


Project title: Access to the built environment. Perception of space at the neolithic Göbekli Tepe.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, Prof. Dr. Alexander Pruß


The Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey dates back to the beginning of the Prepottery Neolithic (10th/9th millennium BC). The seasonal rainfalls in this area encouraged the development of agricultural activities. For this reason, this landscape is assigned to the so-called Fertile Crescent and is considered a possible centre of the Neolithic process. The site itself stands at the beginning of this development and falls into the transition from hunter-gatherer to settled farmer. In the oldest layers of the site, special subterranean architecture has been found. T-shaped limestone monoliths were built in a circle around another central pair of pillars. The interpretation of these stelae is the subject of numerous discussions. The depicted fauna are often dangerous specimens such as boars, lions or snakes. The pillars themselves are interpreted as anthropomorphic statues due to the isolated depictions of arms and clothing components. Therefore the special buildings are interpeted as a gathering of ancestors reproduced in stone.

It should be noted that there are no aids for interpretation in the form of written sources or oral tradition. Following this initial situation, the approach of the ethnologist Hans Peter Hahn is taken up, who correctly remarked: "An appropriate access to the builted environment [...] must start from the complexity of perception and describe the interactions between individuals, groups and the architecture more precisely.“

The aim of the PHD-project is thus to examine the interior of the special buildings with regard to their spatial perception and to contextualize the image program accordingly. For this purpose 3D-photogrammetric models of the facilities are created and the conditions – such as lighting conditions inside – are simulated. This procedure should help to understand the significance of the preceramic special buildings and the underlying cosmological and natural concepts. The investigation is not limited to the interior, but also takes the access situation into consideration. Thus, the so called 'porthole stones‘ – which has not yet been examined in detail-- will be processed. These building elements were partly located in front of the entrances, but did not fulfil a static function. The porthole stones were also often decorated with animals. At the same time, typologically deviating specimens can be found in the backfill of the building. An investigation could thus provide diagnostic material for a relative-chronological classification of the structures as well as an indication of the nature of possible roof constructions. Latter influences the perception of space in the inside of the buildings.