Gobeklitepe archeologist Klaus Schmidt remembered on 9th year of his death
Over nearly 3 decades, Schmidt played key role identifying millennia-old stones at ancient site dating back about 12,000 years
By Rauf Maltas
SANLIURFA, Türkiye (AA) — On the ninth anniversary of his passing, German archeologist Klaus Schmidt was remembered on Thursday for his role in uncovering Gobeklitepe, an ancient site famed as the "zero-point of history."
Located in the province of Sanliurfa in southeastern Türkiye, Gobeklitepe was discovered in 1963 by researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2018.
Schmidt visited Gobeklitepe, estimated to date back up to 12,000 years, in 1994 and identified the visible upper parts of T-shaped obelisks to be from the Neolithic period. His team also took part in excavations under the Sanlıurfa Museum Directorate starting from 1995.
Under Schmidt's direction, the Gobeklitepe dig team unearthed important clues about human history, suggesting a transition phase from a hunter-gatherer to settled lifestyle.
They unearthed Neolithic human statues, limestone carvings of wild boars, foxes, and birds, and a multitude of flint arrowheads.
Neolithic T-shaped obelisks, standing 3-6 meters (about 10-20 feet) and weighing 40-60 tons, were uncovered during the excavation.
The findings also included remnants of the world's oldest temples, measuring 8-30 meters in diameter, and a 65-centimeter-tall (26 inches) human statuettes believed to be approximately 12,000 years old.
Gobeklitepe swiftly gained global recognition and made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2011 with excavation director Schmidt working tirelessly for its permanent listing.
Schmidt, 61, died due to a heart attack during a vacation to Germany on July 20, 2014. His funeral took place in Diebach, Germany.
After Schmidt's greatest dream came true, Gobeklitepe was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as of 1 July, 2018.
Gobeklitepe became one of the most curious and visited ruins in Türkiye and hosted more than 2 million visitors.
- Remembered in Sanliurfa
Local officials and tourism professionals in Sanliurfa commemorated Schmidt on his death anniversary, pointing to his contributions to the Gobeklitepe's excavation.
"Klaus played a significant role and made great efforts both in the excavation and in the promotion of Gobeklitepe to the world. He dedicated his life to both Sanliurfa and Gobeklitepe," said Muslum Coban, the general secretary of Sanliurfa's tourist guides chamber.
"As tourist guides, we have great gratitude and respect for Schmidt for what he accomplished ... The legacy he left behind has made significant contributions to both the world of archaeology and Saniıurfa," added Coban, highlighting Schmidt's role in Gobeklitepe's inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Sanliurfa's mayor, as well the top elected officials of its constituent districts, also released messages of condolence for Schmidt
*Writing by Necva Tastan in Istanbul
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