Göbeklitepe makes it to the UNESCO Heritage Site List

Göbeklitepe makes it to the UNESCO Heritage Site List

Seven thousand years older than the Egyptian Pyramids, Göbeklitepe, which is located in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain.

This has made us all very happy.

Göbeklitepe, which originated 12,000 years ago and hailed as the world’s oldest temple, is Turkey’s 18th cultural asset to make it to this prestigious list.

I cannot describe how happy I was when I saw the “breaking news” UNESCO reported as I followed the meeting live on Twitter.

Göbeklitepe was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2011.

One should congratulate the names behind the victory of Göbeklitepe, which is one of the most significant recent archeological findings and which has helped rewrite history.

Of course, German archeologist Prof. Dr. Klaus Schmidt has led the list by having unveiled and announced the world’s oldest temple. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us.

The second round of applause goes to the Doğuş Group for having signed for the asset’s sponsorship in 2015—an agreement that is set to last for two decades.

The third goes to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry as well as the UNESCO Turkey National Committee.

UNESCO begins to develop interest

Support for the excavation by Doğuş Group for the research and preservation of Göbeklitepe will last until 2035.

The group has already spent around $15 million to supply the heritage site with visitors’ centers and with additional buildings.

This price tag is expected to rise to around $20 million as part of the partnership the group has made with Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry.

This partnership had drawn interest by UNESCO and the 16th World Heritage Committee meeting held in Istanbul in 2016. It was shown as an example of an alliance between the private sector and the state.

Zeugma suffers meanwhile

I have already written in a previous column of mine that sponsorships are very important in the works conducted on archeological sites.

The American Packard Foundation had suggested a decade-long sponsorship to the Culture and Tourism Ministry for works in Zeugma. Unfortunately, that did not come to life.

A fellow columnist and media boss, Aykut Tuzcu of Daily Sabah, wrote in his column that the ancient city of Zeugma, famous for its Gypsy Girl mosaic, and located on the shore of the Euphrates River in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, remains on the tentative list.

Tuzcu, who has helped Zeugma gain worldwide publicity, said he is sad about this situation—and he is right.

Şanlıurfa holds its breath for further glory

Now, the initial question: What will be the outcome of this development be now that Göbeklitepe is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List?

First thing is first: Şanlıurfa, which mean “glorious Urfa” in Turkish, will gain further glory.

Tourism is expected to go over the roof.

Along with the 2015 opening of the Museum Complex that included artifacts from Göbeklitepe, Şanlıurfa had already become the lead actor of Turkey’s tourism.

Without a doubt, Şanlıurfa will be an international tourism hub with the addition of Göbeklitepe to the heritage list.

Also, the cultural assets that make it to the UNESCO World Heritage List help create awareness among locals.

Regions that make it to the list also receive financial support from UNESCO.

I wish Zeugma and other heritage sites currently on the tentative list will make it to the permanent one.

We have 18 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, compared to the 51 heritage sites Italy has.

Thirty million tourists visit Turkey while Italy draws around 50 million visitors.

 Do you see what I mean?

Gila Benmayor, Turkish tourism,