World’s oldest temple draws global attention
“When an area is inscribed on a UNESCO list, it becomes one of the best known places in the world,” Celal Uludağ, head of the excavation team at the 12,000-year-old site, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Located in the southeastern Şanlıurfa province, Göbeklitepe was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in June 2018.
“It also ranks among the places recommended by the most important tourism agencies in the world,” Uludağ added.
He said intense work was carried out for the UNESCO registration of Göbeklitepe, with the support of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and Doğuş Group.
“Visitor reception centers and parking lots were established, and the roof cover was completed as an EU project for the protection of the excavation area,” Uludağ explained.
He underscored that after UNESCO recognition, the number of visitors, especially foreign tourists, at the site significantly rose.
“In the upcoming period, the number will continue to rise,” he added.
Göbeklitepe is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and is recognized as the oldest temple in the world by many international organizations.
The site got drew extra attention after 2019 was declared the Year of Göbeklitepe.
Despite intense heat in the summertime, high numbers of visitors visit the historical temple, said Kamil Türkmen, chairman of the Tourism Profession Committee of the Şanlıurfa Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Göbeklitepe was found in 1963 by researchers from universities in Istanbul and Chicago. Since then, the excavations have continued.
The German Archaeological Institute and Şanlıurfa Museum have carried out joint work at the site since 1995 and have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering some three to six meters high and weighing 40 to 60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse historical artifacts like a 65-centimeter-long human statue dating back 12,000 years have also been discovered.
According to UNESCO, Göbeklitepe was the meeting center of the last hunters before humans switched to a lifestyle based on agriculture.