Gobekli Tepe in Turkey added to UNESCO World Heritage List

Gobekli Tepe, considered “The Oldest Temple in the World,” has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, making this the 18th UNESCO recognized site in Turkey. The inscription took place during the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting in Manama Krakow, Bahrain, recently.

According to UNESCO, Gobekli Tepe, in the Germus mountains of south-eastern Anatolia, presents “monumental circular and rectangular megalithic structures, interpreted as enclosures, which were erected by hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 BC.”

“It is likely that these monuments were used in connection with rituals, probably of a funerary nature. Distinctive T-shaped pillars are carved with images of wild animals, providing insight into the way of life and beliefs of people living in Upper Mesopotamia about 11,500 years ago,” the UNESCO listing said.

Discovered during excavations by researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities, Göbekli Tepe is located near the neighborhood of Örencik in Şanliurfa, 11 miles from the city center. Excavations have continued for 54 years, and many international institutions recognize the site to be “the oldest temple in the world.”

There is a great mystery behind Gobekli Tepe, but what makes it most intriguing is not its large size, its inaccessibility or the beauty of its monuments,” said officials at The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey. “It is the 12,000-year history that dates it to 10,000 years before the founding of the Roman Empire, 8,000 years before the appearance of the Hittites, and 7,000 years before the Great Pyramids.”

Other Turkish sites added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List include:

• 2017 – Aphrodisias
• 2016 – Archaeological Site of Ani
• 2015 – Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
• 2015 – Ephesus
• 2014 – Bursa and Cumalikizik: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire
• 2014 – Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
• 2012 – Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
• 2011 – Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
• 1998 – Archaeological Site of Troy
• 1998 – Hierapolis-Pamukkale
• 1994 – City of Safranbolu
• 1988 – Xanthos-Letoon
• 1987 – Nemrut Mountain
• 1986 – Hattusha: The Hittite Capital
• 1985 – Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi
• 1985 – Historic Areas of Istanbul
• 1985 – Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia