M.O. Round 4 - Gabriel Thomson vs. Grant W. . . Link to the MocOlympics homepage
Link to my esteemed opponent's entry, Grant W. (That's his name, btw, not the name of his entry. Sorry, it's late and my brain is tired!)
For this round, my opponent and I were given the catagory "The Doorstep to the Temple of Wisdom"- Choose a real ancient civilization (Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, Harappa, Iranian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Aztec, Incian and so on) and build a temple in their style of art and architecture.
I started off thinking about Cambodian temples like Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm etc, but during my research, i stumbled across the amazing story of Gobekli Tepe, and was so captured by it that i couldn't get it out of my head. I knew then that i had my subject, or rather, that my subject had me!
Gobekli Tepe (means "belly hill")is a hillside in Southeast Turkey, where the oldest known temple complex in the world was discovered in 1994 by a German archaeologist called Klaus Schmidt. It is a complex of 20 or so circular buildings of various ages, the oldest of which has been dated at 11,000 years old - to put that in perspective, that is 6000 years older than Stonehenge! It is so old that it predates both agriculture and metallurgy - as incredible at it seems, achaeologists believe these temples were constructed by nomadic hunter gatherers using only stone axes and flints. The giant T-shaped limestone megaliths that form the site are decorated with animal motifs in both shallow relief and also more sculptural forms. The spaces in between the megaliths were filled in with drystone walls, which often incorporated low benches in thier design. Nobody knows what type of religion or spirituality the makers of the temple had, but due to the frightening nature of the animal carvings, (which include vultures and lions) some speculate that it could have been a death cult or necropolis.
It has long been believed that neolithic societies only started to build such enduring temples once they had settled into complex agrarian communities; domesticating wildlife, making pottery and the like. However, the evidence at Gobekli Tepe presents a different picture altogether - a hunter gatherer society whos spiritual life led to them later settling in the area (possibly to maintain the temples they had built) and developing agrarian technologies. In short, thier religion lay at the very root of who they were to become - us.
Part of the problem of building "in the style of" our neolithic ancestors is that no-one really knows what the structures looked like when they were originally standing. Some have speculated that the T-shaped megaliths were meant to support a roof of some kind, but all evidence of that has long vanished. So i decided to simply build a neolithic "Gobekli Tepi" style temple as they appear to us today - as mysterious, awe-inspiring ruins, speaking to us of the very beginnings of our search for wisdom.
Overview of the temple layout. You can see the circular design with the supporting megaliths and drystone walls and benches. A ceremonial trough is also present, opposite the temple entrance.
Temple ruins were found at Gobekli Tepe at varying depths, as if new temples were successivly built on top of older ones. Here we see part of a broken megalith from a previous temple, awaiting discovery beneath the earth.
The archeologists use wooden walkways to move from one part of the temple site to another, lessening the risk of damaging or disturbing new finds. They also have a rough shelter for storing tools and collecting smaller artifacts.
An archaeologist examines a lion motif sculpture on one of the central megaliths, whilst a labourer helps to gently clean the temple floor. Another archaeologist takes photos of the temple layout from the walkway. Although they are in the same physical place, the doorway to the wisdom they seek is very different to those of thier neolithic ancestors...
Anyway, i hope you have enjoyed my take on the catagory. It has been a fun, albeit rather quick build for me - i've been ill during the build time and also had some work pressures, so i couldn't spend the time on this that i would have liked. If i had another day or two, i might have experimented with ways to show a neolithic shaman and tribesfolk looking down on the archaeologists from a distant (in time, if not space) hilltop - that was one of my original ideas. Still, i enjoyed making the sunken circular temple very much indeed, and i also had fun with the little shelter and walkway.
ps. And i finally got to use that Pharoah's Quest baseplate in a moc! Yay! ;)
pps. Have a extra bonus atmospheric shot of the temple at night!