Decision : 42 COM 8B.34
Göbekli Tepe (Turkey)
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/INF.8B1,
- Inscribes Göbekli Tepe, Turkey, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (i), (ii) and (iv);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Göbekli Tepe is located in Upper Mesopotamia, a region which saw the emergence of the most ancient farming communities in the world. Monumental structures, interpreted as enclosures, were erected by groups of hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (10th-9th millennia BC). The monuments were probably used in connection with public rituals, probably of a funerary nature. Distinctive T-shaped pillars are carved with a rich array of images, mainly of wild animals. Recent excavations works have also enabled the identification of a nearby built structure of lesser architectural complexity of what might be termed domestic structures.
Criterion (i): The communities that built the monumental megalithic structures of Göbekli Tepe lived at the time of one of the most momentous transitions in human history, from the way of life of hunter-gatherer subsistence to that of the first farmers. These architectural feats bear witness to the creative human genius of Pre-Pottery Neolithic societies.
Criterion (ii): Göbekli Tepe is one of the first manifestations of human-made the monumental architecture of humankind, and its building techniques (semi-subterranean architecture with pillars) and its imagery were disseminated and replicated at other sites in the Middle East from the earliest Neolithic periods, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, onwards.
Criterion (iv): Göbekli Tepe is an outstanding example of a monumental ensemble of monumental megalithic structures illustrating a significant period of human history. The monolithic T-shaped pillars were carved from the adjacent limestone plateau and attest to new levels of architectural and engineering technology. They are believed to bear witness to the presence of specialised craftsmen, and possibly the emergence of more hierarchical forms of human society.
Göbekli Tepe contains all the elements necessary for the expression of its Outstanding Universal Value and is of adequate size to ensure the complete presentation of the features and processes which convey its significance.
The property and its wider setting is protected by a strict regime of maintenance and control, derived from extensive statutory protection and state ownership. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, through the Şanlıurfa Museum and German Archaeological Institute, has in place an effective system of monitoring all the assets and their condition which includes an ongoing maintenance programme.
The physical fabric of the property is in good condition and the processes of deterioration are monitored and carefully controlled.
The megalithic structures have largely retained the original form and design of their architectural elements, together with numerous decorative elements and craft works that provide an insight into the way of life of the societies that occupied the site. The results of more than twenty years of research and archaeological excavations on the site testify to its authenticity. Excavations and research under way since the mid-1990s also provide a more balanced and detailed view of the relationship between the various aspects of usage and the prehistoric importance of the property.
Protection and management requirements
Göbekli Tepe is legally protected by Law 2863/1983 on the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Properties, amended in 1987 and 2004. In 2005, the tell and the limestone plateau were inscribed as a 1st Degree Conservation Area by the decision of the Diyarbakır Council for Conservation of Cultural and Natural Properties. In 2016, the buffer zone was registered as a 3rd Degree Conservation Area, by the decision of the Şanlıurfa Council for Conservation of Cultural Properties.
The institutional framework for the implementation of the protection measures consists at national level of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, at regional level of the Şanlıurfa Council for Conservation of Cultural Properties, and at local level of Şanlıurfa Museum. Since 2014 the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has granted an excavation permit to Şanlıurfa Museum in collaboration with the German Archaeological Institute (DAI).
The management plan was drawn up in 2014, revised in 2016 and finalised in 2017. Because of the property’s status as an archaeological site and its recent transformation into a heritage site, the Director of Şanlıurfa Council for Conservation of Cultural Properties has been appointed as the manager of the property. An Advisory Board, set up in 2016, examines the management plan and submits proposals for decision-making and the implementation of the plan. A Coordination and Audit Board, also set up in 2016, examines and approves the draft master plan.
- Recommends that the State Party give urgent consideration to the following:
- Closely monitor developments around the property that may have an effect on the landscape and visual integrity, and the archaeological potential of the property. This includes monitoring the visual impact of possible “compulsory infrastructure” and measures to protect the agricultural land in the plain of Harran,
- Carry out a study of the impact on the property of the proposed railway line at the site and of its development before its construction, and communicate the study to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines,
- Take measures to ensure that the landscape treatment of the irrigation channel, in the management zone and in the south-east of the property, is implemented so as to reduce its visual impact. Options should also be explored to reduce the visual impact of the quarry in the west,
- Strengthen the protection measures for the buffer zone by re-assessment of its degree of statutory designation based on field research in the following years,
- Develop the management plan so as to:
- include a full conservation plan (including an associated action plan and dedicated resources),
- include a maintenance work plan,
- appoint a manager based at the property all year round,
- include a long-term approach for the management of infrastructure development. Infrastructure must be adapted to allow for the future development of sustainable tourism, without damaging the property’s Outstanding Universal Value,
- finalise the detailed tourism management plan as an important and integral part of the property management system, with a schedule for its implementation,
- include a risk preparedness plan;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2019 a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.