The ancient site of Göbeklitepe, one of the world’s most important archaeological sites boasting a history of 12,000 years, is set to soon graduate from UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites to the permanent list.
Located in Örencik, 18 kilometers from the center of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, Göbeklitepe was first discovered in 1963 during surface surveys carried out by researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago.
Since 1995, the Şanlıurfa Museum and the German Archaeology Institute have been collaborating on the excavations.
Researchers have discovered 3- to 6-meter-long T-shaped steles weighing between 40 and 60 tons, the ruins of the world’s oldest temple, a large number of wild animal figures, human sculptures and a nearly 65-centimeter-long human sculpture from 12,000 years ago.
Many organizations, including the Culture and Tourism Ministry, have been conducting various projects for the promotion of Göbeklitepe.
The ancient site, which drew the attention of participants during the World Economic Forum last year in Davos, was placed second on a top-30 bucket list by Business Insider, a prestigious U.S.-based internet site.
Now Göbeklitepe is expected to enter the permanent list thanks to its historic texture, archaeological value and uniqueness.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Şanlıurfa Gov. Azim Tuna said Göbeklitepe had changed major parameters in global archaeology.
“We believe that Göbeklitepe will be on the UNESCO permanent list by 2018,” Tuna said. “This is very important because Göbeklitepe is the world’s oldest temple and draws visitors from all around the world. Due to some reasons, the number of visitors has fallen since last year but with new promotion works, Göbeklitepe will make great contributions to Turkish tourism,” he added, noting that a number of publications regarding the site had been made.