Göbekli Tepe is located in the Germuş mountains of south-eastern Anatolia. This property presents monumental round-oval and rectangular megalithic structures. Hunter-gatherer societies erected these structures in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 BCE. Societies of that times probably used these monuments in connection with rituals, most likely of a funerary nature, just like the pool of Abraham. Distinctive T-shaped pillars are carved with images of wild animals. They are providing insight into the way of life and beliefs of people living in Upper Mesopotamia about 11,500 years ago.
Universal Importance of Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe takes place in Upper Mesopotamia. The region witnessed the emergence of the most ancient farming communities in the world. Monumental structures were monumental communal buildings (enclosures) for communities in their times. It seems that a group of hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (10th-9th millennia BC) erected those monuments. The monuments were probably used in connection with social events and rituals. And some of feature distinctive limestone T-shaped pillars are up to 5.50 meters tall. Some of the pillars are abstract depictions of the human form. They also feature low reliefs of items of clothing, e.g. belts and loincloths, as well as high and low reliefs of wild animals. Recent excavation works have also identified the remains of non-monumental structures which appear to stem from domestic buildings.
Where Does The Importance of Göbekli Tepe Come From?
The communities that built the monumental megalithic structures of Göbekli Tepe lived during one of the most momentous transitions in human history. This historical time took us from hunter-gatherer lifeways to the first farming communities. The monumental buildings at Göbekli Tepe prove the creative human genius of these early (Pre-Pottery Neolithic) societies.
As for another reason of importance, 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. It also fulfilled architectural functions. Göbekli Tepe contains not only adorning T-pillars but also some small finds such as stone vessels, shaft-straighteners, etc. Researchers also found some other ruins at contemporaneous sites in the Upper Mesopotamian region. Thus, findings are testifying to a close social network in this core region of Neolithisation.
Excavations in Göbekli Tepe Changes The General View for the Human History
Göbekli Tepe is an outstanding example of a monumental ensemble of monumental megalithic structures. The first temple in the world is illustrating a significant period of human history. The monolithic T-shaped pillars were carved from the adjacent limestone plateau. Furthermore, it demonstrates to new levels of architectural and engineering technology. Scientists believe the presence of specialized craftsmen. On the other hand, they also believe possibly the emergence of more hierarchical forms of human society.
Göbekli Tepe contains all the elements necessary for the expression of its Outstanding Universal Value. What’s more, it is of adequate size to ensure the complete presentation of the features. And processes convey its significance.
The physical fabric of the property is in good condition. More importantly, researchers carefully control and monitor the processes of deterioration. For example, the conditions of integrity are potentially vulnerable in the buffer zone. Besides, a wider set of the property due to the future infrastructure projects (railway line) is in progress. As a result, visitor numbers increase day by day.
The First Scientific Excavation in Göbekli Tepe
Although the discovery of Göbekli Tepe site took place in 1963, the first scientific excavation started in 1995. Until then, the megalithic structures have largely retained. The original form and design of their architectural elements occupied the site. There were also numerous decorative elements and craft works. They provide an insight into the way of life of the societies, for instance. The results of more than twenty years of research and archaeological excavations on the site testify to its authenticity. All scientific works since 1995 also provide a more balanced and detailed view of the relationship between the various aspects of usage and the prehistoric importance of the property.
Protection of Şanlıurfa Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe has very straight protection of Turkish legal laws. Diyarbakır Council for Conservation of Cultural and Natural Properties inscribed it as a 1st Degree Archaeological Conservation Site in 2015. Later on, the local authorities registered the buffer zone as a 3rd Degree Archaeological Conservation Site in 2016. It was the decision of the Şanlıurfa Council for Conservation of Cultural Properties.
The institutional framework for the implementation of the protection measures consists of the national level of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As for the regional level, Şanlıurfa Council for Conservation of Cultural Properties takes responsibility. Finally, the local level of protection is up to Şanlıurfa Museum. Since 2014 the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has granted an excavation permit to Şanlıurfa Museum in collaboration with the German Archaeological Institute.
Here are the Some Reasons to Visit Göbekli Tepe
First of all, Göbekli Tepe is the first temple in the world. Secondly, as far as we learned from the excavations, it was a centre of faith and pilgrimage during the Neolithic Age. Thirdly, Göbekli Tepe has the earliest three-dimensional depictions carved into stone.
According to scientists, the archaeological discovery of Göbeklitepe changed human history. Furthermore, it proves the existence of religious beliefs. By the way, those beliefs were prior to the establishment of the first cities. As a result, Göbekli Tepe took its place in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018.
How to go to Göbekli Tepe?
Göbeklitepe archaeological site is near Örencik village. The village is in 15 km northeast of Şanlıurfa city. The city, by the way, is one of the most mystical cities of Turkey. People in Turkey and the region call the city as the “City of Prophets”. There are so many flights from Metropol cities in Turkey, such as Ankara, İstanbul, and İzmir to the Şanlıurfa Airport. Visitors can see some of the artefacts at the excavation site in Şanlıurfa Archaeology Museum.
Once you land at Şanlıurfa Airport, you can either take a taxi or join special tours for the archaeological site. You can arrive in Göbekli Tepe about 30 minutes by car. The taxi will cost you around 150 TL, which is a bit higher than a local bus. However, it is much faster than local buses. On the other hand, local buses departures from the city centre of Şanlurfa. Şanlıurfa Municipality has begun to organize services for Göbekli Tepe since the last September. The number of the bus is 100 and departures from Abide bus stop in the centre. Its price is way cheaper than the taxi. It costs around 5 TL. But unfortunately, arriving in Göbekli Tepe via public bus takes around 2 hours.
Where to Stay in Göbekli Tepe?
There are several good hotel options to stay which are close to the archaeological site. Here is a shortlist of some hotels for which we did benefit from TripAdvisor.
1- Manici Hotel: Surkav Alışveriş Merkezi No. 68, Şanlıurfa 63200, Türkiye. The hotel is 18,2 km away from Göbekli Tepe.
2- Hilton Garden Inn Şanlıurfa: Karakoyunlu Mah. 11 Nisan Fuar Cad. No: 54, Şanlıurfa 63100, Türkiye. The telephone number is The hotel is 18,4 km away from Göbekli Tepe.
3- Türkmen Konağı: Yeni Mah ( Madar )1272 Sok. No: 26 Balikligol Sanliurfa, Şanlıurfa 63500, Türkiye. The hotel is 18,3 km away from Göbekli Tepe.
Visiting Hours of Göbekli Tepe Archaeological Site
For visiting Göbekli Tepe, there are two different periods as winter and summer. Visiting hours during the summer period is between 8 am and 7 pm. As for the winter period, the opening hour remains the same, but the closing hour shortens to 5 pm. The archaeological site is open every day and the entrance fee is 36 TL, according to the last year’s price. For more detailed information, you can click the link to go to the official museum website of Turkey.
Göbekli Tepe International Film Festival
The year of 2019 has been declared as Göbeklitepe year in Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the person who made this declaration. After that, many tourism activities started in Şanlıurfa. In addition to that, the international film festival is one of them and is the first in the all-region. Within the scope of the festival, many actors, actresses and directors, both national and international, will visit the city. The festival is going to start on the 14th of September. And during the weekend, the participants will have the chance to watch many national and international productions.
In short, you should see Göbekli Tepe as soon as you can!