Schmidt's German-Turkish team has also uncovered some 50 of the huge pillars, including two found in his most recent dig season that are not just the biggest yet, but, according to carbon dating, are the oldest monumental artworks in the world.
The T shapes appear to be towering humanoids but have no faces, hinting at the worship of ancestors or humanlike deities.
"In the Bible it talks about how God created man in his image," says Johns Hopkins archeologist Glenn Schwartz.
Göbekli Tepe is "unbelievably big and amazing, at a ridiculously early date," according to Ian Hodder, director of Stanford's archeology program.
Enthusing over the "huge great stones and fantastic, highly refined art" at Göbekli, Hodder—who has spent decades on rival Neolithic sites—says: "Many people think that it changes everything It overturns the whole apple cart.
Wild boar and cattle are depicted, along with totems of power and intelligence, like lions, foxes, and leopards.
Many of the biggest pillars are carved with arms, including shoulders, elbows, and jointed fingers.
They call it potbelly hill, after the soft, round contour of this final lookout in southeastern Turkey. East of the hill lies the biblical plain of Harran, and to the south is the Syrian border, visible 20 miles away, pointing toward the ancient lands of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, the region that gave rise to human civilization.
And under our feet, according to archeologist Klaus Schmidt, are the stones that mark the spot—the exact spot—where humans began that ascent.
In the old model, shepherds and farmers appeared first, and then created pottery, villages, cities, specialized labor, kings, writing, art, and—somewhere on the way to the airplane—organized religion.
As far back as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, thinkers have argued that the social compact of cities came first, and only then the "high" religions with their great temples, a paradigm still taught in American high schools.
"Temples like to be on high sites," he adds, waving an arm over the stony, round hilltop.