Göbeklitepe or Göbekli Tepe is the world's oldest known cult building community located near Örencik Village, approximately 22 km northeast of Şanlıurfa city center. The common feature of these structures is that 10-12 obelisks in the shape of T are lined in a round plan and the walls are erected with stone walls. Two higher obelisks are placed mutually in the center of this building. On most of these obelisks, human, hand and arm, various animals and abstract symbols are depicted by embossing or engraving. The motifs in question were used extensively to be an ornament in places. This composition is thought to mean a story, a narrative or a message.
Bull, wild boar, fox, snake, wild ducks and vulture are the most common motifs in animal motifs. It is defined as a cult center, not a settlement. It is understood that the cult buildings here were built by the last groups of hunters close to agriculture and animal husbandry. In other words, Göbekli Tepe is an important cult center for hunter-gatherer groups with a highly developed and deepened belief system in the environment. In this case, it is suggested that the earliest use of the region dates back to Phase A of the Pottery Neolithic Age (PPN, Pre-Pottery Neolithic) (9.600-7.300 BC), at least 11.600 years ago. However, it is not possible to date the oldest activities in Göbekli Tepe for now, but considering these monumental structures, it is thought that it has a history dating back to the Paleolithic Age, a few millennia to the past. It is understood that the use of Göbekli Tepe as a cult center continued until around 8 thousand BC, and was abandoned after these dates, not used for other or similar purposes.
All these and the monumental architecture unearthed during excavations make Göbekli Tepe unique and special. In this context, it was included in the World Heritage temporary list by UNESCO in 2011 and entered the permanent list in 2018.
These obelisks are interpreted as stylized human sculptures. Especially the human hand and arm motifs in the body of the D-structure obelisks eliminate any doubts about this issue. Therefore, the concept of “obelisk” is used as an auxiliary concept that does not specify a function. Essentially, these "obelisks" are stylized sculptures that depict the human body in three dimensions.
Some sculptures and stones unearthed during the excavations here are exhibited in the Sanliurfa Museum.
Location and environment
The elevation, locally known as '' Göbekli Tepe Visit '', is a 1-meter-high hill on an approximately 300 km long limestone plateau, covering an area of 300 × 15 meters. In addition to the cult structures, the plateau has quarries and workshops.
The area where the finds were uncovered is a group of red soil elevations with a steep-edged flood bed to the west, extending in the northwest-southeast direction, with slight collapses between them, with a diameter of 150 meters. The graves in the two highest hills were unearthed.
Looking at the north and east from the hill, the Taurus Mountains and Karaca mountain skirts, when looking to the west, the mountain range separating the Şanlıurfa plateau and the Euphrates plain, and looking south, the Harran Plain until the Syrian border. With this location, Göbekli Tepe can see a very large area and it can be seen from a very wide area. This feature is likely to have an effect on choosing this place to build cult structures. On the other hand, it is clear that a high quality stone source is needed for such monumental buildings. Limestone used in Göbekli Tepe is a rather hard stone that is not found anywhere. Even today it is considered as the highest quality limestone in the region. Therefore, this must be one of the reasons for choosing Göbekli Tepe Plateau.
It is claimed that T-shaped columns are found on the surface in the centers such as Yeni Mahalle, Karahan, Sefer Tepe and Hamzan Tepe in the Urfa region, and similar architectural elements were unearthed in the excavations at Nevali Çori, so Göbekli Tepe may be associated with these centers. It is also noted that the columns identified in these centers are smaller (1,5-2 meters) than those uncovered in Göbekli Tepe. As a result, it is suggested that Göbekli Tepe may not be the only faith center in the Urfa region and there are several other belief centers. But the important point at this point is that the smaller obelisks in other settlements are similar to the later layer of Göbekli Tepe.
Research and excavations
Göbekli Tepe was discovered during the "Southeastern Anatolia Prehistoric Research Project" (Prehistoric Research in Southeastern Anatolia) survey conducted by Istanbul University and Chicago University in 1963. A few hills that were unusual and invisible were covered with thousands of broken flint stones that were made by human hands.  Based on the findings collected from the surface of the mound during the surveys conducted, it was concluded that this place may be one of the important settlements of the region such as Biris Cemetery (Epipaleolithic) and Söğüt Field 1 (Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic), and Willow Field 2 (Non-pottery Neolithic). It was mentioned for the first time in the region in the article "Survey Work in Southeastern Anatolia" by Peter Benedict, published in 1980. However, it has not been emphasized yet. Then, in 1994, another research was carried out in the region by Klaus Schmidt from Heidelberg University. The monumental characteristic of the site and its archaeological value accordingly only attracted attention at that time.
The excavations were initiated in 1995 after the survey conducted under the presidency of the Sanliurfa Museum and under the scientific consultancy of Harald Hauptmann from the Istanbul German Archeology Institute (DAI). The excavations were started immediately after, under the presidency of the Şanlıurfa Museum and under the scientific consultancy of Klaus Schmidt. Since 2007, the excavation work has been carried out with the stable excavation status of the Council of Ministers and again from the German Archeology Institute. Dr. It was continued under the leadership of Klaus Schmidt. German Heidelberg University Prehistoric Institute also participated in the project. Detailed excavations over the years have provided reliable scientific results that will enable the Neolithic Revolution and the rewriting ground to be prepared.
With excavation works, four layers are given in Göbekli Tepe. The top layer I is surface fill. The other three layers
- II. Layer A.: Square Building with Obelisk (8 thousand - 9 thousand BC)
- Layer, PotteryIt is dated to the Neolithic Age B phase. Obelisk and rectangular planned structures were unearthed. It was concluded that these buildings were similarly cult structures due to their similarity with the temple in Nevali Çori, which is its contemporary. In the "Lion Building", which is regarded as the typical structure of this layer, there is a lion relief on two of the four obelisks.
- II. Layer B.: Round - Oval Structures (evaluated as intermediate layer)
- The structures of this layer, which is dated as the Pottery Neolithic Age EU transition phase, were built in a round or oval plan.
- III. Layer: Circular Structures with Obelisk (9 thousand - 10 thousand BC)
- This lowest level layer dating to the Neolithic Age A phase without Pottery is considered as the most important layer of Göbekli Tepe.
Klaus Schmidt, who has been heading excavations from the beginning, outlined the surface layer II. and III. It talks about the layer. According to Schmidt, III. The layer is the layer represented by 10-12 obelisks in the shape of T and round walls that contain them, and structures consisting of two obelisks placed higher and opposite each other in the center and are older. II. The layer is represented by smaller-scale structures with a rectangular plan, with one or two smaller obelisks, some with no obelisks. III: The Stratification as Pottery Neolithic A, II. Placing the Stratum in the early and middle phases of Pottery Neolithic B. Schmidt, III. It states that the layer should be dated to the 10th millennium BC and the newer layer to the 9th millennium BC. However, III. The radiocarbon dating of the material from the structures uncovered in the Layer shows that these structures are not exactly contemporary with each other. The earliest date comes from Structure D. According to these data, Structure D was built in the middle of the 10th millennium BC and was abandoned at the end of the same millennium. The outer wall of Structure C appears to have been built later than Structure D, while Structure A appears to have been built after both. However, it is also acknowledged that more data is needed to fully confirm this assessment.
During the excavations at Göbekli Tepe, any architectural remains that could have been dwelled could not be reached. Instead, many monumental cult structures were unearthed. It is suggested that the obelisks used in the buildings were cut and processed from the rocky plateaus in the surrounding area and brought to Göbekli Tepe. Some of them are up to 7 meters tall. Geophysical studies show that nearly 300 obelisks have been used in the buildings in Göbekli Tepe, including those unearthed to date. There are cut but unprocessed obelisks in the region, and there are a number of cavities and scrapings in the surrounding rocky plateaus, for which the purpose is not understood. On the other hand, round and oval pits, most of which are collected in the western part of the plateau, are thought to be a kind of cistern made for collecting rainwater. While the round ones of these pits show depth between 1,20-3,00 meters, the depth of the oval plan is 0,50 meters.
The obelisks are mostly built as walls with carved stones. There is a full set of stones on the inside of the wall. In the construction of the wall, fragments of broken obelisks or stones collected and processed from the vicinity were used. Between the stones, 2 cm thick slime mortar was used. As the obelisks are stylized human sculptures, it can be said that these walls bring people together. However, this fee caused serious problems. First of all, the abrasion caused by rain water and wind damaged. On the other hand, it has created an easy-to-open area for various insects.
Giving the most important finds III. In the layer, four structures were unearthed in the first year of excavations and were named A, B, C and D. In the later excavations, three more structures named E, F and G were discovered. Geomagnetic measurements show that there are at least twenty monumental structures in this way.  Common architectural features were identified in these cult structures. The main body of the structures was created by erecting 10-12 obelisks of large size with a circular plan. The obelisks are combined with a wall and a bench made of processed stones. In this way, two walls are interwoven and a corridor is formed between them. In the center of the innermost circle there are two obelisks larger than each other. In this way, while the erected stones in the center are free, those around are partially buried in the row of walls and benches.
Diameters of structures C and D are 30 meters, and structure B is 15 meters. Structure A has an oval plan and diameters are approximately 15 and 10 meters. At the center of these four structures are two obelisks made of limestone, with reliefs of 4-5 meters in height (the central obelisks of Structure D are approximately 5,5 meters high). Likewise, the obelisks on the inner and outer walls with reliefs are on the other side, but smaller in size, about 3-4 meters high. The two obelisks in the centers are in the southeast direction in the structures other than the F structure, and in the F structure, the direction is southwest.
This whole group of structures was deliberately and rapidly covered with a mass in the Neolithic Age. This pile is limestone fragments, mostly smaller than punch. But there are also fragmented objects, such as stone tools and grinding stones, most of which are obviously made by human hands. On the other hand, many broken animal horns and bones were used in this process. Most of the bones are defined as gazelles and wild cattle. Other animal bones are red deer, onager, wild boar. The interesting thing is that in this filling, human bones as well as animal bones are encountered. These are in small broken pieces, just like animal bones. Although the first thing that comes to mind is cannibalism, it seems more likely to be a burial practice. It is a custom that has been identified many times in the Near East of the Pottery Neolithic Age that the human body undergoes some special treatment after death.
It is still unknown what purpose and thought the structures were covered with. On the other hand, the buildings here have been able to survive without being damaged by this masonry filling. In this respect, today's archeology owes a lot to this masonry fill. However, the same filling poses two important difficulties in terms of archeology. First of all, the loose material of the masonry filling created additional difficulties during excavation work. The main challenge is the concern that the results of radiocarbon dating can be misleading. Because while this filling is being thrown, it seems possible that newer parts will be lower and older parts will be higher.
A pit of about 10 meters in diameter in C structure has been known since the beginning of the excavations. In the excavations in this structure, it was found that the pit was "made to open around the central obelisks, and then to disassemble these obelisks, and this goal has been reached to the extent that it is not completely disassembled." So much so that with the strong strokes made to open the pit, the upper part of the east obelisk was broken into pieces and distributed around. However, the trunk remained in place. Nevertheless, it is observed that the relief bull figure in the body has dense ruptures with the effect of a large fire burned. It is suggested that this pit was opened in a period between Bronze Age and Iron Age by looking at the sherds found in the area.
The bases of those other than the C, D and E structures, which were excavated by excavations, were not built by the terrazzo technique as seen in the cult structures dating to the Non-Pottery Neolithic Age in the Southeastern Anatolia Region. Their bases are obtained by smooth and smooth processing of the bedrock. In other structures, the base is made of slaked lime with concrete hardness, polished with terrazzo technique. The central obelisks in the C structure were placed in 50 cm plinth cavities drilled in the bedrock by squeezing them around with small stones and slime. In structure D, the plinths of the central obelisks are 15 cm.
Structure C has a different structure than others. An entrance section extending outwards is seen in the south facing entrance section. It has the appearance of a dromos, which is defined as a rectangular planned entrance part in round planned buildings.
It is understood that four of these temples unearthed (A, B, C and D) are the oldest and were built approximately 12 thousand years ago, approximately in the same period. It is claimed that similar cult structures were built in Çayönü, Hallan Çemi and Nevali Çori a thousand years after these dates. Therefore, Göbekli Tepe looks before these settlements.
In some obelisks, humanoid arm and hand reliefs, especially on the D-structure obelisks, are interpreted as representing the human body. Horizontal piece head; the vertical part represents the body. Essentially, these "obelisks" are stylized sculptures that depict the human body in three dimensions. Both wide surfaces are taken as sides and narrow surfaces as front and rear. There is other evidence in the D obelisk of Building D (Dikilitaş 18 and Dikilitaş 31) that symbolize the human. Both obelisks have open reliefs with arches under the arms. Belt buckles are also machined. Also, on these belts, embroideries representing a "loincloth" from the fox fur are shown downwards. However, in all obelisks, there is not any element that will indicate gender in the style of stylizing people. It is clear that the lowest level was sufficient in symbolizing. Structure D The center obelisks look quite detailed, but the loincloth mentioned here covers the sex. However, based on the fact that the arched clay figurines found in the Nevali Çori excavations approximately 48 km northwest of the bird flight are always male, these depictions are also suggested to be male.
Often there are two bands of reliefs on the front face of the obelisk body and reliefs resembling a long garment. It is believed that these reliefs represent a special garment and are an important element of rituals, worn by certain individuals. In this context, it is suggested that the people represented by the center columns should have played an important role in these rituals. According to excavation head Klaus Schmidt, it is possible that the two obelisks in the center are twins or at least siblings, since this is a common theme in mythology.
However, the most common motifs are not human, but wild animal motifs. The wild animals used in the motifs vary widely and overlap with the fauna of the region. Felines, bulls, wild boars, foxes, cranes, ducks, vultures, hyenas, gazelles, wild donkeys, snakes, spiders and scorpions are some of them. Snake is mainly found in reliefs on obelisks in Structure A. It is the most used among the 17 animal species in the descriptions in this structure. Often, snakes intertwined like nets are seen. In Building B, the fox reliefs, especially the two foxes on the front face of the two obelisks in the center, are remarkable. Structure C, on the other hand, is the structure that focuses on wild boars. This situation exists not only in reliefs in obelisks, but also in sculptures made of stone. Most of the wild boar statues unearthed have been removed from this structure. However, no snake motif was used in the obelisks of this building. Only one snake relief is located on one of the horizontal stone slabs in the southern part. In Structure D, there is a wide variety of figures such as wild boars, wild oxen, gazelles, wild donkeys, cranes, storks, ibis, duck and a feline, but snakes and foxes are dominant.
The head of the excavation, Klaus Schmidt, argues that these animals, which we encounter as reliefs or sculptures, do not have to play an important role in people's daily lives, and that their purpose is based on a mythological expression. On the other hand, a striking issue is that all mammals are depicted as males in all these animal motifs. In human and animal motifs, females are almost never seen. The motifs that have emerged to date have only one exception. A naked woman is depicted on a stone slab among the obelisks defined as a lion column.
A very interesting example of reliefs on obelisks is the composition on obelisk XXV. One of the reliefs is a stylized human relief depicted from the front. The head part of the figure, which is said to give a petrified image, is processed as a facial expression similar to the skull. When the pieces of the obelisk are put together, a small animal figure of 25 cm is located at a distance of 10 cm from the human motif. The four legs of the animal, which is understood to be a canine, have its tail raised up and curled towards the trunk.
II. There are no circular buildings in the layer, instead of the rectangular buildings. However, III. The use of T-shaped obelisks, one of the main architectural elements of the cult structures in the Stratum, continued. The structures in this level are mostly cult structures. However, it is seen that obelisks decrease in number and decrease in size as the structures are getting smaller. III. While the average height of the obelisks is 3,5 meters in the Level II. It is 1,5 meters in layer.
A large part of the small finds other than architecture, unearthed during excavations, are stone tools used by the workers here. Almost all of these are tools made of flint. Obsidian stone tools are the exception. The source of the obsidian used in these instruments is mostly seen as Bingöl A, B and Göllüdağ (Cappadocia). The fact that the stones used in these tools are 500 km away from Cappadocia, 250 km away from Van Lake and 500 km away from Northeastern Anatolia. Apart from stone tools, materials carved from limestone and basalt were also recovered. These are mostly stone vessels, beads made of stone, small figurines, grinding stones and pestles. Flat axes from other small finds were made of nephritis and amphiolite, and jewelry made of serpentine.
Apart from stone tools, many sculptures have been removed. Some of them are ordinary sized human heads made of limestone. Fractures suggest that they are detached from the main sculptures. Apart from the sculptures, a remarkable find is a "totem" -like work unearthed during the 2011 excavations. It is 1,87 meters long and 38 cm wide. There are composite compositions and figures on the totem carved from limestone.
In the study of the extracted soil, wild wheat type Einkorn grains were found. No evidence of domesticated species of grain has yet been found. Other plant remnants detected are only wild species of almond and peanut. Finds belonging to animal bones belong to many different animal species. The most common among them is the Tigris basin fauna such as gazelle, wild cattle and toy bird. Despite this diversity, there is no evidence of domestic species.
Human skull bone finds
Human bones were found to be fragmented. Studies in 2017 revealed that most of these bones belong to skull parts. Morphological studies on human skull bone fragments were able to separate the bones of three different individuals in these bone fragments. One of these three different individuals is likely to be a woman. The sex of the other two skulls has not been identified. The skulls belong to individuals aged 20-50 years. Tafonomic studies, on the other hand, showed that four different processes were performed on these skull bones: stripping, cutting, drilling and dyeing. When these bone pieces belonging to the human skull are assembled in accordance with the skull model, it has been revealed that they can be traced by hanging from above.
Regulation and protection
Göbekli Tepe is under the protection of the Law No. 2863 on Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage. It was registered as the First Degree Archeological Site with the decision of the Regional Board Directorate of Diyarbakır Cultural Heritage Preservation dated 27.09.2005 and numbered 422.
In the last few years of the excavation works carried out in Göbekli Tepe, works aimed at preserving and exhibiting the structures and the region as revealed were developed. The walls and obelisks are tried to be protected by fabric, screened soil, wooden construction and wire mesh lines. However, the threat of looting and external environmental conditions in the long run still requires special preservation of the structures and archaeological artifacts there. As an answer to this requirement, the Global Heritage Fund has announced that in 2010, a multi-annual work program will be organized to protect Göbekli Tepe. This aspect of work in the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Şanlıurfa Municipality, the German Archaeological Institute and the German Research Fund that is expected to be carried out in cooperation. The aim of this initiative is to support the establishment of an adequate arrangement for the management of the structures and surroundings uncovered, to determine a suitable future protection plan, to make a protective cover to protect the works to be exhibited from the weather conditions and to make the necessary initiatives. In this framework, it is planned to develop the facilities, transportation lines and parking areas, visitor areas required for the project team, and to develop the tourism infrastructure in a broad sense as required by the situation.