Watching what’s happening in Göbeklitepe is painful, but does not surprise us

Watching what’s happening in Göbeklitepe is painful, but does not surprise us

Located on a hill overlooking the Harran lowland in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, the ancient site of Göbeklitepe has archeological findings important enough to change the history of the world.

As the world’s oldest and biggest temple, it has even been reputed as the place where history began.

It is not possible to measure the value of the various artifacts unearthed in the ancient sites during excavation works headed by the legendary late Professor Klaus Schmidt who died in 2014.

Such an invaluable site made headlines when news broke that the site was being damaged by “concrete” and “heavy equipment.”

“Am I the only one who feels sorrow when seeing this view?” said archaeologist Çiğdem Köksal Schmidt, the wife of Professor Klaus Schmidt, in a picture she shared.

Did we get hurt?


Did it surprise us?

No, unfortunately not.

After all, we live in a country where buildings of the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) were built on cisterns after they were polished in the southern province of Antalya. These cisterns date back to the Seljuk era.

We are in a country where people poured concrete onto the Atik Valide Mosque, which was built by the renowned Mimar Sinan 450 years ago, in an attempt to build a student accommodation. Thanks to journalist Ömer Erbil, who brought the developments under the limelight with his news article in the daily Hürriyet, the attempt was stopped.

We are living in a country where people attempted to set up a toilet next to a historic mosque in the astonishing İshakpaşa Complex in the western province of Bursa’s İnegöl district. We are in a country where people think we beautify ancient theatres in Antiphellos, Termessos and the Temple of Apollo by carelessly pouring concrete and putting marbles you’d actually put in bathrooms on them. We even broke down a historic wall of the 450-year-old Sadrazam Sinan Pasha Complex in Bursa to allow trucks to enter the site — in the name of “renovation.”

We destroyed the 7,000-year-old Arakli Mound in Isparta, poured asphalt on it after breaking into the first-degree archeological site — in the name of expanding the streets. We installed PVC windows in the gathering space of a beautiful Istanbul mosque built by Sadrazam İbrahim Pasha in 1478 to “tidy” it up. You read that right, PVC windows...

Just last week, we saw how historic tombstones were broken into pieces by means of concrete-breakers during the renovation works in the Şeyh Mustafa Devati Shrine in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district.

We have seen all sorts of vandalism against historical artifacts and horrific results of renovation attempts. But we’ve had enough of saying “Please, let it be messy.” I can give dozens of more examples.

At the martyrs’ memorial in the western province of Çanakkale, where speeches are delivered during ceremonies about heroes and which is never erased from visitors’ minds and hearts, they built a car park by pouring concrete in the area. How worse can it get?

Yes, the fact that they have been pouring concrete in Göbeklitepe is painful, but it is not surprising to us.

We got used to the inconsiderateness, cruelty, insensitiveness and vandalism...

Very good, let’s carry on doing this.

Kanat Atkaya,