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UNDP Turkey: This is the New Horizons Podcast prepared by United Nations Development Programme in Turkey. In this episode, we will talk about a project which aimed to uncover a city identity communing with its roots via revealing an old craft in Şanlıurfa. The name of this project is ‘Stonemasonry at Göbeklitepe, Oldest Temple of the World’’. The projects is funded by the ‘Future is in Tourism’ implemented in partnership with Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, UNDP and Anadolu Efes. The project aims to transfer 12 thousand year-old stonemasonry to the next generations and to increase the number of qualified tourists and tourism revenue in the region. Project coordinator Nihal Dörtkardeş, explains stone masonry is spread to the world from Şanlıurfa:

Nihal Dörtkardeş: When mentioning Göbeklitepe, it means 12000 years ago. Primary constructions are related to stone and this is the birthplace of stone masonry. What you can observe wherever you look here is that; if the oldest dates belong to here, if T-shaped temples built at Göbeklitepe, it means that the history begins here, stone masonry flourished from Urfa. This is what we concluded. After we took this project, when stonemasonry is nearly extinct, we saw new buildings in Karaköprü, and everything was concrete. No building had decorations. When entering the old-town part of the city, it is easy to observe handiworks, ornaments in the old houses at specific positions. Pentagonic and hexagonic ornaments, geometric shapes. These have been used. But now, they are nearly extinct. It means that, it can only be observed at this part of the city. Also at the newly restorated buildings. In order to continue this, we have chosen people from the young generation, talented and able to continue this afterwards. We also register Urfa’s stones in accordance with geographic signs. The stone is Urfa stone, unique to here. What is funny is that, the other stones are all registered; the Urfa stone is the oldest among them, remaining without any registration. We are also registering Urfa stone according to geographical indications.

UNDP Turkey: “Stonemasonry at Göbeklitepe, the Oldest Temple of the World” which is carried out by Şanlıurfa Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the partnership of Şanlıurfa Governorate. With the help of this project, which has closed recently, traditional stonemasonry patterns to be used in touristic products are identified. A ‘Stonemasonry Atelier’ has been established for training new stonemasons and enabling tourists coming to the region to inhale this authentic experience. Nihal Dörtkardeş tells the story of how they identified these patterns:

Nihal Dörtkardeş: We identified all of the stonemasonry patterns in Urfa. Assistant Professor Cihat Kürkçüoğlu, an Urfa historian, carved out himself. Thankfully, he helped us. We identified patterns and textures which we can use on souvenirs, on the buildings and doors. Meaningly, the textures which can recombine Old Urfa with the New Urfa. The most popular ones.

UNDP Turkey: With the contributions of this project; stonemasonry still continuing since Göbeklitepe is repromoted and a nearly-extinct artisan is revived. Also, 6 women and 15 men trainees are trained in order to provide the sustainability of the stonemasonry in the region. Also, first women stonemasons of Şanlıurfa are trained with the help of this project. Nihal Dörtkardeş explains the activities in the project:

Nihal Dörtkardeş: ‘Stone Masonry at Göbeklitepe, Oldest Temple of the World ‘is our own project. We conducted it in order to transfer a nearly-lost cultural heritage to the next generations. Stonemasonry, began in Urfa, at Göbeklitepe. We wanted to continue this. Recombine old city with the new one; establish a new urban identity. We had a 7-month workshop. We trained 21 trainees. In order to provide sustainability, we gave entrepreneurship trainings, in order them to open their own shops. Eyyübiye Municipality started new workshops in order to copy and continue our model.

UNDP Turkey: We listened Nihal Dörtkardeş. Project did not only taught stonemasonry to the trainees, but also helped them to open their own business entities by providing entrepreneurship trainings. Will there still be opportunities for tourists wanting to experience stonemasonry after the closure of the project? Nihal Dörtkardeş:

Nihal Dörtkardeş: We will open new courses at the atelier. We will train new stonemasons. In fact, our primary aim is that, there are no space for experiencing such things for tourists to extend their visit. There are silverwork courses, filigree courses, woodcarving courses, watering courses in the Reji Church. Stonemasonry courses will continue next to them. When they come to 58 square, tourists will be able to experience this by their own. Our goal, our beginning was ‘Carve your own souvenir’. Hopefully, it will continue.

UNDP Turkey: 4th year students at Harran University, Osman Pala and Zeynel Abidin Koşarcı received stonemasonry and entrepreneurship training in the framework of ‘’ Stone Masonry at Göbeklitepe, Oldest Temple of the World’’. In fact, why did they learn stonemasonry and what do they want to do afterwards? We listen Osman Pala:

Osman Pala: We are 4th year students. Our subject at school is sculpture. Our main art is sculpture, we specialize on sculpturing. This is a very close material to sculpture. Stone can be sculptured. The fact that, we didn’t have any opportunities at university, we found an opportunity here. We came for this in the beginning. But we realized that there is a nearly forgotten stone called Urfa Stone. It has also become a brand. But there is no mason carving this stone left, there is a labor deficit here. Material is good. It comes from Antep, Mardin. But the best among the stones come from Urfa. It also goes there from here. We already wanted to open our own shop. It also contributed to this idea significantly. Hopefully, we got our entrepreneurship certificate from KOSGEB. We are trying to finish our education. Afterwards, we will realize our ideas, hopefully.

UNDP Turkey: We have come to end of the episode of New Horizons with the words of 4th year student at Harran University, Osman Pala. In this episode, we talked about a project which aimed to uncover a city identity communing with its roots via revealing an old craft in Şanlıurfa.  This program has been recorded at the studio of Yodiviki in İstanbul. You can follow our program on FM frequency in İstanbul, on Açık Radyo (Open Radio) on Internet, on university radios in our broadcasting network, on iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Pure Connect, Yodiviki, Audioboo and TTNET Müzik in podcast format, and also on tr.undp.org. Our user name for social media is undpturkiye. Hope to see you soon, good-bye!


























Stonemasonry in Şanlıurfa

Nihal Dörtkardeş, Project Coordinator of Stonemasonry at Göbeklitepe, the Oldest Temple of the World
Osman Pala, Student, Harran University