Göbeklitepe: The world’s oldest sculpture workshop

Fri 29 August 2014 03:49 GMT | 08:49 Local Time

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The world’s oldest discovered temple, Göbeklitepe, is also the oldest known sculpture workshop, according to excavation findings at the site, which have been ongoing for 20 years.

The excavations at Göbeklitepe, which is located in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa and is described as the “zero point in history,” are being carried out by the German Archaeology Institute and the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, who died a few months ago, had been the head of the excavations, Hurriyet Daily reports.

Associate Professor Cihat Kürkçüoğlu from the nearby Harran University’s (HRU) Arts and History Department, said works in Göbeklitepe had revealed human sculptures from the Neolithic age, wild boar, fox and bird limestone fossils, as well as many arrow heads made of tinderbox.

Kürkçüoğlu said these findings revealed that the art of sculpture and stone relief dated back to 12,000 years ago. “These are the oldest monumental sculptures in the world,” he added.

He said they had found small sculptures from between 10,000 and 20,000 B.C., called the “Venus sculptures,” but the stone reliefs on T-shaped stelas in Göbeklitepe and in the Nevali desert are “the oldest sculptures in the world.”

A 1.80 meter-high limestone sculpture, known as “Balıklıgöl Man” or “Urfa Man,” which was found during the excavations close to the Balıklıgöl lake in 1995, dated back to 10,000 B.C.

“This shows us that Göbeklitepe is the birthplace of plastic arts. It is a temple but at the same time it’s the world’s oldest sculpture workshop. You expect primitive examples of stone sculptures but you find very improved, aesthetic and artistic sculptures. This surprised us greatly. Some compositions in Göbeklitepe are even good enough to make today’s graphics jealous. As the archaeological excavations progress, I believe we will find older prototypes,” he said.

Kürkçüoğlu added that he had asked university groups visiting the ancient site to teach their students that the history of sculpture started at Göbeklitepe. “Just like the alphabet starts with A, the history of plastic arts starts with Göbeklitepe,” he said.

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