UK MPs hailed preservation of historic sites in Turkey

By Muslum Etgu

SANLIURFA, Turkey (AA) – Four British parliamentarians who visited Gobeklitepe, world's oldest known temple in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday, hailed preservation efforts undertaken by the Turkish government.

As guests of the Yunus Emre Institute that promotes Turkish culture around the world, the MPs visited the UNESCO world heritage site. The trip was organized in collaboration with the Association of Turkish Speaking Health Professionals (ITSEB) in Britain.

Director of Yunus Emre Institute, Mehmet Karakus, said that they carried out various activities in the country and abroad to unleash soft power of Turkey. The ITSEB Director Ali Demirbag said the efforts were on to increase cooperation between Turkey and the U.K.

The Conservative MP Sheryll Murray expressed happiness to stand at a place rich with history.

"I am very happy to stand again and look at the area where people stood thousands of years ago. I congratulate those who made this excavation. It is a great work," she said.

She also applauded Turkey for hosting Syrians, who have left their homes and country, due to the civil war.

Gobeklitepe is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is recognized as the oldest temple in the world by many international organizations. It was discovered in 1963 by researchers from universities of Istanbul and Chicago. Since then, the excavations have never stopped.

The German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum have been carrying out joint excavations at the site since 1995. They have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering some 3-6 meters (10-20 feet) high and weighing 40-60 tons.

During the excavations, diverse historical artifacts like a 65-centimeter-long (26-inch) human statue dating back 12,000 years have also been discovered.

* Writing by Dilara Hamit