Turkey has discovered 11 new hills near the prehistoric site of Göbeklitepe, crowned as the world’s first temple, in southeastern Şanlıurfa province.
"We have discovered 11 more major hills on a 100-kilometer (62-mile) line around Göbeklitepe," Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said at an event Sunday in Şanlıurfa. He added that the area will now be called "12 tepe" meaning 12 hills.
Speaking to reporters, Ersoy said a "major study" on the hills is about to be completed and will be presented in September.
He said the area could even be referred to as the "pyramids of southeast Turkey." "When you look at Mesopotamia, this region has a unique culture. It has its own registered gastronomy. It has many products. And when you combine that with its unique archaeological value, it's a wonderful thing," he added.
Göbeklitepe has been on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List since 2011. It was discovered in 1963 when researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago were working at the site.
In joint work that has been going on at the site since 1995, the German Archaeological Institute and Şanlıurfa Museum have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering 3 to 6 meters (10-20 feet) high and weighing 40-60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse 12,000-year-old artifacts such as human statuettes that are 65 centimeters (26 inches) high were also unearthed.
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