Göbeklitepe prepares for key UNESCO visit
ŞANLIURFA – Anadolu AgencyOfficials have been spending last-minute efforts as the Göbeklitepe archeological site in Turkey’s southeast, one of the leading historic values of the country, prepares to be nominated for UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2018 ahead of a delegation visit in September.
Aydın Aslan, a culture and tourism director in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, has told state-run Anadolu Agency that they were very pleased to finally hear the nomination of the Göbeklitepe archeological site, accepted as the world’s oldest center of worship by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and many other international institutions and organizations, for this year’s 42nd UNESCO heritage committee meeting.
The site was included in UNESCO’s temporary list five years ago.
“The listing of UNESCO is Göbeklitepe’s right,” Aslan said.
“Currently, we are working intensely on this project and our paperwork for the nominations is ready. We sent them to officials and they were found sufficient for the shortlisting. Finally, we hope to hear Göbeklitepe’s UNESCO nomination this year,” Aslan added.
Göbeklitepe, with ongoing excavations for the last 54 years, was first found by researchers from the Istanbul and Chicago universities during a field survey in 1963 and is situated near Şanlıurfa’s Örencik neighborhood 18 kilometers away from the city center.
Aslan said every important protection work and all other practices on the site will be done under UNESCO’s supervision if it finds its place on the UNESCO list.
The officials are currently busy with completing a roof framing work on a 4,000-square-meter area, costing a total of 6.6 million euros, in an attempt to give the site a stronger protection.
Aslan said the site will be opened to visits back again once the construction is finished.
“We are sensitive with every step we take regarding Göbeklitepe since it has a driving force to attract tourists to nearby areas and the country in general means,” Aslan said.
Fevzi Demirol, mayor of the Haliliye district of Şanlıurfa, said the site is also important in terms of creating jobs for the younger generations.
“If Göbeklitepe is promoted sufficiently, it can become a center of attraction for history enthusiasts. It will accelerate and contribute to Turkish tourism. We are happy that this site, known as the ‘zero point of history,’ is nominated by the UNESCO World Heritage committee,” Demirol said.
Müslüm Çoban, the head of the local tourist guides’ chamber, described the site as the “world’s oldest known place of worship.”
“The UNESCO team will come to Şanlıurfa in September to do examinations in Göbeklitepe. I hope the roof framing work of the site will be finished by then. Göbeklitepe draws attention especially from foreign tourists, meaning more tourists will come to Şanlıurfa. As a result, our hotels will work on more capacity, tourist guides will go on more tours and our artisans will earn more.” Çoban said.
Until Göbeklitepe re-opens to its visitors, the imitations of the artifacts found in the excavations are being presented at the Şanlıurfa Museum Complex.
This year, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has also inscribed the “Aphrodisias Archaeological Site” on the UNESCO World Heritage List upon Turkey’s nomination, which increased the number of properties on the Turkey UNESCO World Heritage List to 17.
The Göbeklitepe site is composed of approximately 20 round and oval structures. There are two T-shaped free-standing pillars with a length of five meters. Monumental structures of Göbeklitepe were deliberately filled with soil by the people of the Neolithic period who built them.