Göbeklitepe ancient site, located in Turkey's southeastern Şanlıurfa province, has risen in fame in 2018 after it was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. Following this, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced 2019 as the year of Göbeklitepe in tourism in December 2018.
The ancient site was found by researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities in 1963. Excavations at the site were launched in 1995 by German professor Klaus Schmidt. Accepted as "the oldest temple in the world" by many international institutions and primarily by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the ancient site broke the mold about the history of humanity. Before Göbeklitepe was discovered, we were taught that people lived in a primitive way by hunting 12,000 years ago. However, people built a temple circa 10,000 B.C.
To build such a complex temple, people had to learn how to build a shelter, then start agriculture and move to settled life. Faith was thought to have no place in primitive hunter societies that did not adopt a settled life. It is understood that the people living in Göbeklitepe had advanced engineering intelligence before having a total settled life and had an aesthetic understanding to process the sculptures. But most importantly, even when they were hunters, they had a belief, and this belief had made them build magnificent temples.
According to UNESCO, the communities that built the monumental megalithic structures of Göbeklitepe lived during one of the most momentous transitions in human history, one which took us from hunter-gatherer lifeways to the first farming communities.
Hundreds of people who visit Göbeklitepe every day to see the temple, which are 30 kilometers away from the city center, witness how much faith is important to people. "Göbekli Tepe is one of the first manifestations of human-made monumental architecture. The site testifies to innovative building techniques, including the integration of frequently decorated T-shaped limestone pillars, which also fulfilled architectural functions," UNESCO's website says.
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