‘Göbeklitepe should be passed on to future generations’
Mankind has a responsibility toward preserving Göbeklitepe’s cultural heritage and must pass it on to future generations, said archaeologist Çiğdem Köksal Schmidt, the wife of German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, who unearthed the 12,000-year-old Neolithic site in a two-decade excavation works near the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.
Speaking at the International Istanbul Nartugan Film Festival, Köksal Schmidt, who is also an archaeologist, said that her husband devoted all his career to Anatolia.
“He explored Anatolia when he first came to [the eastern province of] Elazığ in 1978 for his Ph.D. Then he devoted his life to enlighten the neolithic era of Anatolia,” she told daily Milliyet on Dec. 24.
Nartugan, which means ‘rebirth,’ is the name of a 4,000-year-old Turkish feast that originated from the Turkish communities in Central Asia.
Believers celebrate the welcoming of the new year on Dec. 21, the winter solstice marking the longest day of the year.
“Remembering Göbeklitepe in a film festival devoted to archaic cultures is an honor to me,” she noted.
Organizers of the festival wanted to honor Klaus Schmidt, the man who introduced Göbeklitepe to humanity, with an honorary award. Köksal Schmidt, who lives in Şanlıurfa, came to Istanbul to get her husband’s award.
“Emotionally, the southeastern part of Anatolia always had a special and an important place in Klaus’ heart,” she said. “He penned more than 200 scientific papers about Anatolia.”
“Göbeklitepe came to the fore globally due to Klaus,” she said proudly.
Born in 1953, the German archaeologist studied protohistory, geology and classical archaeology in the universities of Erlangen and Heidelberg. In 1995, he became the site director of the excavations in Göbeklitepe.
He died in 2014 after a heart attack while swimming in Germany.
“He always had a passion for excavations. He transferred his passion to his team during the works at the site of Göbeklitepe,” she expressed.
The 12,000-year-old site presents monumental round-oval and rectangular megalithic structures erected by hunter-gatherers in the pre-pottery neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 B.C. Distinctive T-shaped pillars found at the site are carved with images of wild animals, providing insight into the way of life and the beliefs of people of the time.
Göbeklitepe was included on UNESCO’s Tentative List in 2011 and later was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2018.
“He unearthed Göbeklitepe after a two-decade excavation works,” the proud wife said, reminding the responsibility that people have in taking this to future generations.
“Göbeklitepe was protected and preserved for millenniums. Now we have a very big responsibility. We must carry Göbeklitepe to the future,” she stated.
More than 3,000 movies from some 122 countries applied to the festival, which honored Schmidt in its first event, where some 33 movies were deemed worthy of awards.