by A. Cihat Kürkçüoğlu
Harran University, Faculty of Science and Letters
Basin Yayin ve Enformasyon Genel Mudurlugu Website




Archeological discoveries in Urfa continue to yield exciting results with each passing day.


Scientists are rushing to see the remains of an 11,500-year-old temple discovered in Göbeklitepe. Furthermore, a 13,500-year-old statue, the world’s oldest, discovered during an excavation in Balıklıgöl has astonished archeologists from all over the world. Assistant Professor A. Cihat Kürkçüoğlu of Harran University claims that the history of civilization began in Urfa.

Exploratory excavations conducted in Çayönü, Diyarbakır have revealed remains of houses which date back 10,500-11,000 years. Even more surprising have been the results of excavations conducted in the Nevale Çori region, which indicate that the people of Nevale Çori settled and lived in houses 500 years before the people of Çayönü.


They are also known to have been the first people to engage in agriculture.


First Temple

During exploratory excavations conducted in Göbeklitepe in 1995, the remains of a temple were discovered. Quite similar to those discovered in Nevale Çori, these remnants are considered to be one of the first examples of architectural structure.





Artifacts discovered in the center of the city of Urfa indicate that settlement in the region began even earlier.


Bahattin Çelik, a research assistant in the Department of Archeology and Art History at Hacettepe University, recently has said that arrows and spearheads made of flint, cutting tools and interior furnishings were discovered in the Balıklıgöl region.


Laboratory analysis carried out in Germany last year proved that these finds are at least 11,500 years old.





Kürkçüoğlu described the results of the excavations as “a marvelous discovery” and said:

“With this discovery, the history we have obtained up until now about the Neolithic age has been brought back 2,000 years. We now know that our fellow human beings built the first houses in history in the fertile area near Balıklıgöl 13,500 years ago.”

The two meter high “Balıklıgöl Statue” is the oldest statue discovered until now.




World’s Oldest Statue

A two-meter high statue of a male (click right image) was discovered in Balıklıgöl in 1993. The limestone statue the eyes of which are carved out of obsidian depicts a man seizing his genital organ with both hands.


It was named the “Balıklıgöl Statue” and is on display in Urfa Museum.


Kürkçüoğlu provided the following details about the statue:

“Scientists have confirmed that the ‘Balıklıgöl Statue’ is the oldest statue ever to be discovered until now. The statue, which was in a Neolithic temple, represents ‘the God of Eroticism’ or ‘the God of Reproduction.’


Therefore, we are certain that the Balıklıgöl settlement is 2,000 years older than the Nevale Çori and Göbeklitepe settlements. Each exploratory excavation and the finds discovered in Urfa add to our knowledge of the Neolithic age.”



Transition to Sedentary Life and Agriculture

During excavations conducted by Kürkçüoğlu, Abdüsselam Uluçam, Bahattin Çelik and Fatih Uluçam on behalf of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) in 1999 and 2000, three other Neolithic age settlements were discovered in Karahantepe, Sefertepe and Hamzantepe.


In each of these settlements, several T-shaped stelae similar to those in Nevale Çori and Göbeklitepe were found. The team also discovered a stele with the figure of a snake carved on it and a statue surprisingly similar to the “Balıklıgöl Statue.”


Kürkçüoğlu stressed the significance of these finds as follows:

“It is certain that future excavations and discoveries will reveal much more about the unknown aspects of the history of mankind. All these finds are significant, since they indicate that the ancients who lived in the Urfa region were skilled in building structures and gathered together occasionally for religious rituals. These rituals resulted in a transition to sedentary lifestyle and the emergence of agriculture. Thus it is believed that the history of civilization began in Urfa




T-shaped stelae discovered during excavations are believed to have religious significance.


The carvings on these stelae are the earliest examples of Neolithic art.



Scientists are rushing to see the 11,500 year-old remains of temples discovered during excavations in Göbeklitepe.




Upper Mesopotamia

(SE Turkey, N Syria and N Iraq) 14C databases: 11th - 6th millennia cal BC



III. Gaziantep-Urfa-Mardin plateau




The Schlangenpfeilergebäude pertains to the earlier of the two building phases attested thus far at the site, i.e. Old Phase (level III) and Young Phase (level II) (where level I relates to the topsoil finds).


Since coming from the fill of the structure, the two level III samples may postdate the Old Phase.


The two dates yielded by pedogenic carbonate coatings of pillars 8 and 11 from structures B and C resp. constitute an terminus ante quem for these buildings.


At the time suggested by these two dates, both structures had already been abandoned and buried.