Mahmut Yildiz, 66, the former owner of the field where the oldest temple in the world, Gobeklitepe, was discovered in Sanliurfa province, now serves as a security guard at the archaeological site where he has also worked on excavations.
The excavation started after Mahmut Yildiz and his father Ibrahim Yildiz discovered stones from the temple while plowing their fields 23 years ago. Yildiz worked for 20 years to help excavate Gobeklitepe. Excavations were then being conducted under the guidance of German professor Klaus Schmidt, who later retired in 2005. Yildiz refused to walk away from the site and now keeps the site safe as a security guard and a guide.
Yildiz, who voluntarily guides local and foreign tourists coming from all around the world, is one of the most well-known people at the archaeological site thanks to the traditional clothes that he always wears.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Yildiz said the region was sacred for locals even before the excavation started and added that these people were sacrificing animals and making wishes there.
Reminding that he and his father found the first artifact while plowing their field, Yildiz said the excavation started later.
He said he is glad to have had the chance to meet the people visiting Gobeklitepe from all around the world.
“Whatever you do, you should benefit society. We need to leave important work behind us. The next generation should be able to say, ‘God bless our ancestors.’ Honesty is really important in this context. We have presented this place to the world. We are happy with it. I hope this place will be more beautiful and more artifacts will be found here in the future. Likewise, I hope the excavation will contribute to finding more sites around the world,” the security guard said.
Neolithic, T-shaped obelisks decorated with animal figures measuring 3 to 6 meters in length and 40 to 60 tons have been found during the Gobeklitepe excavations conducted jointly by the German Archaeology Institute in Berlin and Sanliurfa Museum since 1995.
Circular and rectangular ruins of the world’s oldest temple and 65-centimeter human statues dating back 12,000 years are among the pieces that have also been found at the site.
Gobeklitepe is on UNESCO’s tentative World Heritage List.
Source: Daily Sabah