President Erdoğan has declared 2019 as “the Year of Göbeklitepe” in a bid to boost the archeological site dubbed “the ground zero for human history.”
Located in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, Göbeklitepe was once one of the oldest settlements in Mesopotamia.
The year of 2018 was named “The Year of Troy,” and the initiative is reported to have revived tourism activities in the northwestern Çanakkale province by 60 percent.
President Erdoğan announced he would be attending the opening ceremony saying, “I believe that we will see a much higher performance in Şanlıurfa. This ancient settlement proves the importance of Anatolia in the history of humanity and it will certainly attract worldwide attention.”
The decision is welcomed by tourism professionals.
Göbeklitepe, which means Potbelly Hill in Turkish, dates back nearly 12,000 years and is considered one of the world’s oldest temples, featuring massive carved stones and T-shaped pillars that predate the invention of agriculture.
The site was reopened to tourists in early 2018 following extensive restoration work, during which a 4,000-square-meter steel roof was erected to protect the site.
It was added in 2018 to the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
According to UNESCO, Gobeklitepe was the meeting center of the last hunters before humans switched to a lifestyle based on agriculture.
“Göbeklitepe is a unique sacred space and sacred meeting center of the Neolithic period in terms of its location, dimensions, dating and monumentality of architectural ruins and sculptural piece.” – UNESCO
Preparations are well under way in Şanlıurfa to present the ancient site as a tourist attraction for visitors from around the world.
Featured image courtesy of Tourism News Live