GÖBEKLİ TEPE INCLUDED IN UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LISTThe UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which held its 42nd session this month, announced that nineteen cultural and natural sites were included on the World Heritage List. In the list of newly admitted sites is also Göbekli Tepe from Turkey. With the inclusion of Göbekli Tepe in the list, the number of total World Heritage sites in Turkey went up to nineteen.
Göbekli Tepe, rising on a wide flat hill in Şanlıurfa's Haliliye district, where the horizon can be seen in all directions, is regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, for it hosts the oldest structures known to be built by the humans. The earliest of the circular structures formed by bringing together a large number of T-shaped stone pillars that reach up to 5.5 meters and 8 tons, is dated to around 9,500 BC. On some of the pillars there are carvings of humans and wild animals along with various other figures.
The first studies on Göbekli Tepe were carried out at the beginning of 1960s in cooperation with Istanbul University and the University of Chicago. The archaeologists who encountered limestone fragments on the hill where Göbekli Tepe is located predicted that this was an abandoned medieval graveyard, so the work did not progress. The German archaeologist Prof. Klaus Schmidt, who visited the region in 1994, decided to start an excavation here, after reading the previous reports. The team under Shmidt's leadership began excavations in 1996.
Running the Göbekli Tepe excavations until his death in 2014, Prof. Schmidt, together with countless scholars from all over the world, argued that Göbekli Tepe is so important as to cause a reassessment and alteration in the built-in theory of history, which suggests that civilization and urbanization began with the transition to agriculture. Schmidt, in his interviews and in his book through which he shared the results of the excavations, stated that circular structures made of stone pillars were built for a religious purpose, which makes Göbekli Tepe the oldest temple in the world.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee's decision text states that Göbekli Tepe "is believed to bear witness to the presence of specialized craftsmen, and possibly the emergence of more hierarchical forms of human society," and that it is the manifestation of "the creative human genius of Pre-Pottery Neolithic societies".