Ever since the inception of anthropology as an academic discipline, the standard model has posited that agricultural cultivation was the catalyst for the shift from hunter-gatherer societies to sedentary, communal living; that it was only when we began to farm that we could organize as a species and build monuments to our gods. An extraordinary site in Southeastern Turkey, however, threatens to turn that model on its head. Currently reigning as the world’s oldest extant human construction, Gobekli Tepe predates the invention of writing by 6,000 years. Intensive excavation and study of the site indicates it was built by hunter-gatherers, at a time when no permanent settlements or agriculture existed in the region. It was only after its construction that settlements began to coalesce around it. More than 200 pillars, weighing as much as 20 tons apiece, form sacred rings throughout the site, many of them decorated with animal carvings of amazing artistic skill. So much remains unknown about the people who built it and the religion that motivated them to do so; the team currently digging it estimates it will provide at least 50 more years of excavation. Ironically enough, the first archaeologists to study the site dismissed it as a medieval cemetery.