In 1986, a local man discovered a statue while tilling the soil in his small field in a place called Göbeklitepe – The Hill With a Belly. He took the statue to the Şanlıurfa Archeology Museum where experts determined that it was perhaps created between 6000 and 7000 BC by the ancient people who lived during the Neoloithic Age (1). Other statues were also found when the ancient temple was unearthed in the center of Harran Plain , 17 kms from Şanlıurfa(2). Further studies indicated that the temple dated back to 10,000 BC, making it the oldest place of worship in the world. Before the discovery in Göbeklitepe, the worlds oldest temple was found in Malta, dating back from 5000 BC.
The photograph in the Attachment was taken on March 24, 2010 during a visit where we also met the son of the discoverer of the first statue at Göbeklitepe. An exhibition on Gobekitepe at the Turkish Library and Museum in New York would bring thousands of visitirs to Sanliurfa.
(1) Chronology of Major Events in Richard Stoneman’s excellent book “A Traveler’s History of Turkey” identifies the dates between 12,000 BC and 6,500 BC as the Mesolitic Age.
(2) Şanlıurfa is known as the City of the Prophets, competing with another historical city Diyarbakır. Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), considered the father of the three religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was born in Şanlıurfa.