UNESCO adds Turkey’s Göbeklitepe to World Heritage List

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SANLIURFA, TURKEY - A general view of the Potbelly Hill (Gobekli Tepe), which is known as the oldest Temple Center, in Turkey's southeastern province Sanliurfa / Halil Fidan / Anadolu Agency

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced on Sunday that the ancient settlement of Göbeklitepe in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa province was inscribed on the World Heritage List during the 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting in Bahrain.

The organization announced the decision on Twitter.

Göbeklitepe, 11,000-year-old enclosures from the Stone Age probably used for funerary rituals and discovered in the 1960s. was added to the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage in 2011.

In an official statement Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stressed that “with the adoption of this decision, the number of inscribed sites of Turkey on UNESCO World Heritage List has reached to eighteen [sic].”

This year a steel roof was constructed over the site in order to increase the number of visitors to 1 million annually; however, it also sparked a debate that the carelessness of the workers and the company would harm the ancient stones.

Çiğdem Köksal Schmidt, the widow of Klaus Schmidt, the former head of the excavation project who passed away in 2014, posted an Instagram photo criticizing the construction company for damaging the historic fabric of the site.

She had been refused permission to work at the site after her husband’s death by the new excavation leader.

Excavations at the site have been conducted thus far in a German-Turkish collaboration with the support of Turkey’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture and, more recently, Doğuş Holding.

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