Discovery date:

First discovered in 1963 by a Turkish-American archaeological survey team. No excavation work preformed.

Excavated since:

1995 under the late German archeologist Klaus Schmidt.

Excavation team(s):

Co-operation between the Şanlıurfa Museum and the Istanbul Department of the DAI. Since 2009, the site is the focus of a German Research Foundation (DFG) long-term funding project.

Estimated degree of Excavated area:

Approximately 5% of surface area spanning over 8 hectare/20 Acres

Elevation above sea level:

782 Meters

Comment Area:

Dating to at least 12,000 years ago, Göbekli Tepe is by far the oldest and one of the largest megalithic structures on Earth. That alone makes it one of the most important archaeological sites ever discovered. It was first described by Peter Benedict as part of a joint project between the Universities of Istanbul and Chicago (1963–1972).1 Based on the lack of water it was determined it could not have been a permanent settlement. In 1995 the German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, in conjunction with the German Archaeological Institute, began the first scientific study of Göbekli Tepe. When Schmidt started excavating, he was stunned, not by the famous T-pillars that he had already seen at Nevali Çori (27 miles away), but by the unprecedented scale of what could best be described as a megalithic mountain sanctuary. Göbekli Tepe was not built in a day. Evidence indicates the site was used for thousands of years.

For archaeologists this seemed almost impossible. The necessary planning and coordination challenged the traditional theories about the capabilities of wandering bands of hunter-gatherers. By definition they did not possess sufficient resources or social hierarchy to construct anything like Göbekli Tepe. Clearly their civilization was more complex than anyone had previously thought.

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