Ancient Göbeklitepe pioneer Schmidt passes away

Ancient Göbeklitepe pioneer Schmidt passes away

ŞANLIURFA – Anadolu Agency
Ancient Göbeklitepe pioneer Schmidt passes away

Klaus Schmidt has died of a heart attack while swimming in a pool in Germany at the age of 61.

Professor Klaus Schmidt, a pioneer of excavations in Göbeklitepe, known as the “zero point in history” in the eastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa, died of a heart attack while swimming in Germany at the age of 61.

Schmidt had been working at Göbeklitepe for 20 years for the German Archaeology Institute. Through his works, he proved that the Neolithic-age ancient site was the world’s oldest temple.

He had published books on the Göbeklitepe excavations in Turkish, German, Italian and Russian, along with countless scientific articles and work on exhibitions and conferences across the world.

Şanlıurfa Provincial Culture and Tourism Deputy Director Aydın Aslan said they were saddened by his death, adding that Schmidt had a significant role in the promotion of Göbeklitepe. “We are in great shock,” Aslan said. 

The archaeological remains in Göbeklitepe, which date back to 10,000 BC and are considered one of the most exciting recent archaeological findings, show that hunters and gatherers of the Stone Age, while struggling to survive and meet their basic needs, also tried to understand nature, believing in superpowers and/or gods and came together to worship. Built thousands of years before previously known temples, Göbeklitepe has changed the way scientists think about the Neolithic Period and the birth of civilization.

Since 2008, Schmidt had been working with a team of German archaeologists. His schedule was two months of excavation in the spring and two months in the fall. In 2011, Schmidt was interviewed and revealed that roughly 5 percent of the site has been excavated. In 1995, Schmidt purchased a house in Şanlıurfa. Last March, he said a canal-like formation was unexpectedly discovered during the construction of the two roofs.

It is not yet clear whether the fall excavations will start in September or who will head the excavations.