Gobeklitepe eyes UNESCO World Heritage listing

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Turkey’s must-see ancient site Gobeklitepe is getting ready to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List with a new roof protection.

Located in the southeastern Turkish province of Sanliurfa and close to the traditions and mythical Garden of Eden, 18 km from Sanliurfa’s city center, Gobeklitepe was first discovered in 1963 during surface survey of researchers from Istanbul and Chicago Universities.

Works have been continuing in the ancient settlement for 54 years.

Gobeklitepe has been well-hidden beneath mounds of mud and debris. Numerous animal skeletons have been unearthed leading international researchers to believe the temple was used for animal sacrifice.

On site, T-shaped pillars weigh between 40 and 60 tones each and the pillars run from 3 to 6 meters high. Near perfect rendering of bulls, foxes and cranes leap from the stone while one may observe with fascination relief sculptures of crocodiles, boats and lions.

Considered by many international organizations as the world’s oldest temple dating back to 12,000 years ago, Gobeklitepe entered the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List five years ago. The site is expected to enter the permanent list next year.

Gobeklitepe was discovered in 1963 as a Neolithic settlement, during the surface surveys realized as a part of a Joint Project named “Prehistoric Research in Southeastern Anatolia” by Istanbul University in cooperation with Chicago University.
The site is composed of approximately 20 round and oval structures. There are two T-shaped free-standing pillars of 5 meters long. Monumental structures of

Gobeklitepe were deliberately filled with soil by the people of the Neolithic period who built them, which is why the findings have survived without any damage.
Symbolism on the pillars of Gobeklitepe also indicates that the long-term changes in earth’s rotational axis was recorded at this time using an early form of writing, and that the site was an observatory for meteors and comets.

Thus according to many researchers, the 12,000 year Megalithic site, and a real archaeological enigma, was somewhat purposefully buried by its builders as a time capsule to tell us what happened then.

Many tourists visiting Turkey have never heard of Gobeklitepe and have no idea of the existence of this wonder of the ancient world. Those who choose to take the time to go there are overwhelmed and say it’s one of the places that they will be forever engraved in their minds.

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