Turkish hilltop where civilization began

The world's oldest known religious sanctuary is quietly revealing its secrets on a sun-baked mountainside in southeast Turkey.

"We never know what to expect when we start digging in a new trench," said Lee Clare of the German Archaeology Institute, who has been excavating there since 2013.

It's always a pleasant surprise.Gobekli Tepe, which translates to "Potbelly Hill" in Turkish, is the world's most important archaeological site.

Thousands of our forefathers gathered to worship around its ornate T-shaped megalith pillars more than 7,000 years before Stonehenge or the first Egyptian pyramids.

Sean Lawrence, an assistant professor of history at West Virginia University, told AFP, "Its significance is difficult to exaggerate."

Academics believe that human habitation began 12,000 years ago in these hills near the Syrian border, when tribes of Stone Age hunter gatherers got together to build these settlements.