Best known for its monumental architecture considered among the oldest such buildings in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic in southeastern Anatolia, the archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe has provided new and significant insight into cooperation among early Holocene hunter-gatherers in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ to achieve large communal projects. Interpreted as important places of social gatherings, ritual activities, communication and exchange, monument construction at Göbekli Tepe has been associated with the concept of ‘work feasts’ as a means to generate the necessary work force.
So far, evidence for the demands to supply these feasts and their participants with food was largely constituted by the archaeofaunal material consisting of numerous often broken and burnt bones of hunted game, particularly aurochs and gazelle.
Now, a recently completed new study in the frame of the German Archaeological Institute’s Göbekli Tepe Project (funded by the German Research Foundation) analysing the extraordinary high number of more than 7,000 slabs, handstones, pestles, and mortars used for plant food processing, confirm the once massive presence of cereals at the site, filling the gap left by the weakly preserved charred macro-rests. With a lack of large storage facilities identified so far, these results suggest preparation of food for immediate consumption. This adds to the zoological subsistence record and supports the feasting hypothesis, hinting at seasonal meetings taking place at Göbekli Tepe between midsummer and autumn due to the presence of migrating gazelles.
Laura Dietrich, Julia Meister, Oliver Dietrich, Jens Notroff, Janika Kiep, Julia Heeb, André Beuger, Brigitta Schütt, Cereal processing at Early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, southeastern Turkey, PLOS ONE 01 May 2019, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0215214