Apart from the tell, there is an incised platform with two sockets that could have held pillars, and a surrounding flat bench.

This platform corresponds to the complexes from Layer III at the actual tell.

During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world's oldest known megaliths.

It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level.

The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.

In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014.

Schmidt believed that the site was a sanctuary where people from a wide region periodically congregated, not a settlement.

The hill had long been under agricultural cultivation, and generations of local inhabitants had frequently moved rocks and placed them in clearance piles, which may have disturbed the upper layers of the site.

At some point attempts had been made to break up some of the pillars, presumably by farmers who mistook them for ordinary large rocks.

Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons.

They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. The details of the structure's function remain a mystery.

The imposing stratigraphy of Göbekli Tepe attests to many centuries of activity, beginning at least as early as the Epipaleolithic period.