Göbeklitepe Archeological Site, located in Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey, has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during the 42nd meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July 2018. This archeological site is the 18th object in Turkey to be in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, that is why 2019 has been declared as the Göbeklitepe Year.
With a history dating back 12.000 years, Göbeklitepe was built 4.600 years before the oldest cities of Mesopotamia, known as the cradle of civilizations; 6.600 years before Stonehenge of England and 7.100 years prior to the Pyramids in Egypt. Moreover, Göbeklitepe is 6.100 years ahead of the temple in Malta, recognized to be the oldest temple of the World.
Göbeklitepe is located 20 km from Şanlıurfa city center and close to Nevali Çori Neolithic Site, as well as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast into fire by King Nimrod and God turned flames into water and woods into fish.
The excavations revealed that Göbeklitepe, regarded as “zero point in time” was established as a temple rather than a settlement. This outcome shook the foundation of history of humanity which was established on the basis of the shift from hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled life. In other words, the fact that Göbeklitepe Neolithic Site served as a temple that congregated hunter-gatherers on religious occasions, refutes the globally accepted thesis that agriculture encouraged humans to establish settlements and to engage in developing arts and religion.
Being built during the Neolithic Period at a time when only simple hand tools were used, it is yet to be discovered how the two “T” shaped steles that weigh from 10 to 15 tons each were transported and erected at the center of the site. Moreover, the embossed figures of animals and plants on the steles are regarded as the first examples of sculpture in the world.
Why Göbeklitepe was buried under tons of soil and flint stone around 1.000 years after it was built and how it remained well preserved and undamaged are among the unknown facts to be unveiled. The first excavations at Göbeklitepe were conducted by a joint group of archeologists from Istanbul University and the University of Chicago in 1963. However, the group misinterpreted the findings and failed to discover Göbeklitepe. The German archeologist Prof. Klaus Schmidt, who previously worked on Nevali Çori site, started Göbeklitepe excavations in 1995, in collaboration with the Directorate of Şanlıurfa Museum.
Though 20 oval shaped structures have been spotted as a result of the surveillances conducted in Göbeklitepe site, which is of 300 meters in width, only six of them have been unearthed so far. Each of these structures have diameters ranging up to 30 meters and rising to 15 meters.
Besides shedding light on the history of humanity, Göbeklitepe is expected to create added value to the promotion of Şanlıurfa, known as the “City of Prophets”, and to encourage further archeological excavations in the region.
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