The Şahenk Initiative announced today at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos an over $15 million twenty year investment in Göbeklitepe, the oldest archaeological discovery in the world. The investment will be used to support excavations and to advance research and protection of this archaeological site located at the top of a mountain ridge in Turkey’s South-Eastern Anatolia region.
T-shaped pillars carved with the images of wild animals were used to create temple-like structures. Six of these structures were uncovered, built on top of one other over a span of 1,000 years.
Excavations have been led by the director of the Şanlıurfa Museum, Müslüm Ercan, and Lee Clare of the German Archaeological Institute.
The site now has a small visitor center, but Göbeklitepe has received limited support and attention since its first archaeological excavation in 1995. The Şahenk Initiative partnership will provide continuous and sustainable support, including a major international initiative to introduce Göbeklitepe to the world.
A world-class visitor center will be built to enhance the tourist experience and understanding of the significance of this historic location and attract international tourism to this under-explored destination.
Göbeklitepe is a major early Neolithic site that was built around 11,600 years ago as a major centre of faith. The artifacts unearthed there have profound historical significance in that they transform the understanding of how human society first developed.
It is known as ‘zero point in time’ since it predates the region known as the Fertile Crescent. This area that includes Mesopotamia has long been considered to be the Cradle of Civilization and the origins of writing and civilization.
The Şahenk Initiative was founded by Ferit F. Şahenk, Chairman of Doğuş Group. It is an international social impact platform established in 2014 to create a positive legacy and make a meaningful impact on lives in Turkey and across the world.
Speaking in Davos, Ferit F. Şahenk, , said:
“As global leaders of the world meet here in Davos, I want to ask each and every one to leave their mark to inspire new generations. With this exact purpose we have started the Şahenk Initiative as a project to protect our past, build on today and invest in the future. Along with the ‘Stay in the Game’ project that we implement as part of our ‘Today’, we are also launching important projects such as our ‘Children’s Science and Discovery Museum’ and ‘Children’s Hospital’ for the ‘Future’. But today we are here for our ‘Past’; Göbeklitepe – the precious treasure of Turkey.
“We have placed this Turkish treasure at the heart of the World Economic Forum because I want the whole world to know about it. Göbeklitepe, a common value of humanity, is our zero point in time.
Now, as we stand on the precipice of a fourth industrial revolution in a time of great global change, the time is right to collaborate once again. That is why we are launching the Şahenk Initiative’s investment in Göbeklitepe at Davos – to share it with the entire world.”
Abdullah Kocapınar, Cultural Heritage and Museums General Director at the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said:
“As the main sponsor, the Şahenk Initiative will support the excavations and studies in Göbeklitepe, which are of great historical significance. Our collaboration is very precious; it is aimed at unveiling the value of this archaeological site, which is also important for the global community, and promoting it in the international arena. As a country with a very diverse and rich archaeological heritage, it is very important for us to foster collaborations between the public, private sector and the civil society to ensure that this heritage is preserved for everyone.”
“As Göbeklitepe is still being unearthed, our views about the history of settlement and civilization are ever-changing. This site, which is believed to be 7,000 years older than Stonehenge and 7,500 years older than the Pyramids, is also followed with curiosity by the global community.”
“Recognized as an important element in helping our understanding of hunter-gatherers, the formation of religious sites, the emergence of temple architecture, the birth of art, to the transformation of agriculture and livestock breeding, the national and international projects of Göbeklitepe are a priority of the Ministry. Indeed, our Minister of Culture and Tourism Mahir Ünal, upon taking up his new position, has stressed that Göbeklitepe’s preservation, a site for common values of all humanity, is a priority.”
“The preservation of our cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy and learn from, is one of the most important priorities of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism. With this aim we are encouraging scientific excavation and research; renewing our existing museums, while also building modern monumental museums. We are establishing regional laboratories for restoration and conservation of tangible and intangible cultural assets. With the restoration of excavation sites and historical residential areas, landscaping and necessary security measures, we are opening up those that are deemed appropriate, for the public to visit. Also, we are conducting studies to determine the status of protection of cultural properties. All these activities are being run with a staff of close to 7,500 employees within the Ministry and using approximately $150 million per year in sources.”