The oldest known temple on Earth , Gobeklitepe in Urfa, Turkey September 2013

Turkey is a marvelous country as it is like an allover Open Air Museum.

İt is called the cradle of mankind since lots of civilizations which were coming from the East or from the South were passing by the Anatolian region westwards and moving to the different parts of Europe during thousands of years.

As the whole country is a whole cultural and historical treasure ,I will write posts on the different regions from time to time .

In my todays post I will report from our visit to Sanliurfa and its worldfamous site of Gobeklitepe .

Urfa is a very old city located in the South Eastern part of Turkey in the Northern Mesopotamian area, 80 km from the Euphrate River and 40 km from the Turkish – Syrian borderline.

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The ancient name of Urfa in the Greek and Roman times was Edessa and its todays name is coming from the Arabic name “urruha ” .

Urfa is one of the most holy sites of the Islam due to its various ancient religious sites. One of the most famous locations is the pool of Abraham called ” Balikligol “with its sacred fishes in Eyyubiye .

Due to the legend King Nemrut (Nimrod ) sentence prophet Abraham to death while throwing him into a fire .But God comments that the fire should become water and coolness to Abraham and the wood stocks to become fishes in that water . Due to the faith these fishes are still the 1000 ones that live today in the Abraham pool in Urfa and are sacred and it is not allowed to touch them .

Moreover Urfa is located at a very prosperous valley and on the ancient silk road which was the gateway from East to West.

It is also close to Harran which was one of the first scientific centers and its university in the world and which is famous for its beehive houses which are built about 3000 years ago out of mud and bricks and which hold the house cool in the summer and warm in winter times .

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Urfa is also very famous for its cuisine , its marvellous kebabs, pistacios, chilli peppers, isot, special meatballs , Turkish type of small pizzas , kunefe ,roasted eggplants and many ,many more delicious meals.

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Our focus on this route is the relatively newly discovered and breath taking famous site of Gobeklitepe which is about 15 km outside of Urfa.

While we take our bus to the site , I am very very excited since it is one of the oldest historical discoveries in the world.

When we talk about Stonehenge or the Egyptian pyramids we talk about 3000 year BC while Gobeklitepe belongs to a timeline of 10.000 years BC which is 7000 years elder then Stonehenge and the pyramids ….imagine !

Can somebody not be excited to see that site … I am horribly curious and already blown away . We are leaving for a very special historical and religious place, full of secrets .

While we drive forward we look around. There is nothing then very simple wide yellow fields , some lost sheeps with a dog who is accompanying them – that’s all- nothing more.

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While we arrive at the entrance of Gobeklitepe a man with a headscarf is waiting for us, smiling very proudly and friendly.

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It is Mr Mahmut Yildiz  , the owner of the fields where Gobeklitepe is situated . His uncle was the first person finding a rock with some carvings on this field in 1985 where he was just working and who brought this rock to the museum of Urfa but nobody recognized the importance of this historical fund and they just put the rocks into the stock of the museum.

Mr Yildiz is happy to welcome the visitors at the entrance, telling us a little bit about his life and the history . He tells that since ever the people living in Urfa consider this hill as a holy site and that in the days of the “Feast of Sacrifice” ( Kurban Bayrami ) mostly people were coming into this area to give their sacrifice to God and value this location as a special place.

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Meanwhile years passed by and by chance an archeologist called Klaus Schmidt recognized these rocks in the stock of the museum and began to research where these were coming from and in 1994 the Museum of Sanliurfa started a project together with the German Archeological Institute headed by Mr Klaus Schmidt who was assigned to start exploring this area and in 1995 he started his first excavations over here.

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Actually Gobeklitepe is laid under a little hill and covers an area of about 90 hectars with about 24 temples under the earth which are between 8- 30 meters wide. The part that is unearthed by today is only about 300 meters.

While we come closer we can look down to the open site. I am really excited – history is showing its very very old face to us …. unbelievable.

It looks beautiful and not old at all.

Within these open 300 meters we can see 2 big monumental pillars in the middle surrounded by walls , pillars in T- shape arranged in an oval form or a circle. All of these T-shaped pillars are about 3- 6 m high and have either carvings of animals , sceneries or abstract symbols on their surface . Animals are eg lions, wild pigs , cranes , snakes , foxes , wild ducks, taurus and grass and wheat and more.

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The T-shaped pillars are interpreted as a form of human being or a symbol of a god since some of them have some carvings like arms at their sides.

Each of the T-shaped pillars weighs about 40-60 tons where the question is on how people in times of 12 000 years ago which is close to the stone age could bring those rocks to this site and how could they erect them as they are standing here now- technically it seems to be impossible for that period of time.

In 2010 there was a theft at the archeological site where for the first time a sculpture with a human head was found . Unfortunately 2 days after the discovery the sculpture was stolen and never found again. The sculpture was looking similar to the one that was again found in Urfa years ago and which is today the oldest one of a human being for mankind ( it is very simple and has no mouth ) and is presented in the Museum of Urfa .

Gobekli tepe was used for about 1400 years as a religious site and then buried under the earth .People left the site and never came back again and this is why the site was perfectly preserved and could carved out without any damage today.

When looking around in the area there is no water or any other reason for a settlement .

What was the reason to have this huge temple here in the middle of these fields ?

Was there a special mystic energy that was the reason to have the site right here ?

It is said that the type of the wheat that is growing here is the purist and oldest one in the world and exactly that type of wheat that is described in the Bible where the story is told about Adam and Eve .

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Due to the archeologist the area of Gobeklitepe is the place where farming for mankind began and people started to settle down instead of being a gatherer and hunter.

We are at the “zeropoint ” of history and faith as Gobeklitepe is also called , the first temple of mankind and the first settlement .

Gobeklitepe still bears lots of aenigmas for the scientists per today .

What do the symbols on the pillars stand for ?

What is the meaning of the T -shaped pillars ?

Why are there 24 of those temples at this place ?

Why is this location defined for this site ?

Is this the first location where people started to believe in a god ?

Many many questions which wait for their responses .

It is also interesting that though Gobeklitepe is very unique in its kind , there are other sites which have similar religious or cultural symbols eg in Peru or on the Eastern Islands.

Is Urfa even today also one of the most holiest sites in the Islam because of this sacred and mystical place that seem to exist here since more then 10.000 of years ?

Why did the people leave this place and hide it under this hillside?

When you look up at this hill there is a tree standing there totally alone, very beautiful and very mystic like a milestone in this huge valley , like a symbol …

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I am climbing up the hill as I want to be there and have a look at the view around which should be amazing.

I am standing in the shadow of this beautiful tree which is like the marvelous crown of this meaningful hill. The view is very wide, there is sun but also some fresh wind. What a georgous place it is …

What beauty and what mystery and what a coincidence that this place is found.

We slowly leave the site, being impressed by time and history – we see the new sites being covered and protected where further new excarvations will take place.

In the distance we see the archeolog Mr Klaus Schmidt. He has some German guests close to his working station and they are sitting around at a table and having some talks.

Somehow I want to see him and shake his hands ,congratulate and look into these smart eyes . I bought his book of Gobeklitepe and want him to sign it.

When we ask whether we can just say hello we are not allowed as the scientist is fully occupied but I cant help but just walk through , stand in front of him and talk to him in German . I excuse myself very much as it is not my way.

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I congratulate him for his great work and ask him kindly for a signature with a smile on my face .

He is happy to share a few minutes with us and to have a photo .Today I am happy that I insisted to meet him as just 1 year later in summer 2014 Mr Klaus Schmidt unexpectedly died of a heart attack .

It is a pity as Gobeklitepe lost its pioneer but I am happy that I took the opportunity on that day to be close to a wonderful scientist who opened up a totally new page of history of mankind.

Meanwhile Gobeklitepe opened its new museum in February 2018 and it is one of my next plans to go to Urfa soon and to have a look at it and to see the new developments since then , maybe to get some more insight and to sit under the beautiful wish tree and to look into the depths of the beautiful country and maybe to have a delicious kebab in Urfa with its very friendly and hospitable people.

Gobeklitepe actually is ready and will be probably assigned a new UNESCO heritage within this year of 2018 .

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