2M go on virtual tour of world’s oldest temple in southeastern Turkiye amidst pandemic
The ancient site of Gobeklitepe in southeastern Turkiye has attracted a continually swelling tide of visitors, totaling roughly 1.3 million in the three years that it has been open.
Dubbed the “ground-zero of history,” the archeological dig site is located in the province of Sanliurfa and features relics that date back 12,000 years.
Months after UNESCO named it a World Heritage site, Gobeklitepe was officially opened to touristic visits in 2019, which Turkiye named the “year of Gobeklitepe” to celebrate its legacy.
Celal Uludag, head of the Sanliurfa Archeology Museum, said the Neolithic structure is thought to have been built by hunters and gatherers 12,000 years ago.
Since excavation efforts started in 1995, authorities have transferred moveable unearthed objects to the museum.
The site attracted a record 500,000 visits in 2019, though this figure fell to 200,000 in 2020 with the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Uludag.
Last year, the number of visitors bounced back to 600,000,with a further 2 million viewing its artifacts in a virtual museum amid the pandemic.
The famed ancient site was discovered in 1963 by researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities.
In joint work at the site since 1995, the German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering three to six meters (10-20 feet) high and weighing 40-60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse 12,000-year-old artifacts such as human statuettes 65 centimeters (26 inches) high were also unearthed.