Karahan Tepe, Sanliurfa Turkey

karahan tepe sanliurfa turkey

Discovery at Karahan Tepe Unveils Prehistoric Societal Shifts

Excavations at Karahan Tepe, a significant archaeological site near the Turkish-Syrian border, have unveiled startling insights into human history, challenging conventional beliefs about the origins of settled societies. This 11,400-year-old village, situated in Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa, presents evidence that contradicts the long-held theory that agriculture was the primary catalyst for humans settling down.

Karahan Tepe: A Glimpse into Pre-Agricultural Settlement

The site, a part of a larger network of prehistoric settlements, reveals a complex of homes and ritualistic structures. These findings are pivotal, indicating that permanent settlements by hunter-gatherers predated the advent of agriculture by over a millennium. Necmi Karul, an associate professor of prehistory at Istanbul University, leading the excavation, emphasizes the site’s importance in reshaping historical narratives taught worldwide. The discovery suggests that the transition to settled life was already underway among hunter-gatherers, with agriculture emerging subsequently as an effect rather than a cause.

Reassessing Historical Perceptions

Karahan Tepe’s proximity to Gobekli Tepe and Boncuklu Tarla, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for the world’s oldest temple structures, places it within a significant archaeological region. These sites collectively challenge the previously accepted timeline of civilization’s development, suggesting a more complex societal structure among Stone Age populations. This new evidence points towards the existence of large-scale societies with divisions of labor and shared ritualistic practices among pre-agricultural communities.

The Neolithic Revolution Revisited

Karahan Tepe not only offers insights into the architectural and engineering skills of its inhabitants but also provides a window into their belief systems and societal structures. The site, with its elaborate stone carvings and distinct ritual spaces, reflects a society engaged in complex spiritual practices. This challenges the traditional view of the Neolithic era, typically associated with the shift from foraging to farming, suggesting a more multifaceted societal evolution.

Cultural and Touristic Implications of Karahan Tepe

The Turkish government, recognizing the site’s historical significance, plans to open Karahan Tepe to tourists, aiming to attract millions of visitors to this and other Neolithic sites in the region. This initiative aligns with broader efforts to expand archaeological research and enhance public engagement with these ancient settlements. The opening of Karahantepe promises to provide a unique opportunity for global audiences to witness firsthand the remnants of one of the world’s oldest known villages.

Can I visit Karahan Tepe?

Visiting Karahan Tepe: The site is open every day from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and entry is free. Amenities like bathrooms are available at the visitor center.

How to get to Karahan Tepe?

To visit Karahan Tepe, you will need to travel to southeastern Turkey, specifically to the province of Şanlıurfa, where the site is located. Here’s a general guide on how to get there:

  • Fly to Turkey: The most common international gateways are Istanbul or Ankara. From there, you can take a domestic flight to Şanlıurfa. The city has an airport, Şanlıurfa Airport (SFQ), which is well-connected with major Turkish cities.
  • Travel to Şanlıurfa: Once in Turkey, you can fly, take a bus, or drive to Şanlıurfa. Flights are the quickest option, while buses are more economical but take longer. If you enjoy road trips, renting a car is a viable option, offering more flexibility in your travel itinerary. If you travel by your own car, here is the google maps link of Karahan Tepe.
  • From Şanlıurfa to Karahan Tepe: Karahan Tepe is located about 35 kilometers southeast of Gobekli Tepe, another famous archaeological site near Şanlıurfa. You can hire a taxi or rent a car to reach there from Sanlıurfa. The journey is relatively short, taking about an hour by road.
  • Accommodation: Sanlıurfa offers various accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Staying in Sanlıurfa allows you to explore other historical and cultural sites in the region.
  • Local Tours: Consider joining a local tour for a guided experience. These tours often include transportation and provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the site.
  • Visiting Hours and Regulations: Check the visiting hours and any specific regulations or requirements for tourists at Karahan Tepe. Since it’s an archaeological site, there might be rules to ensure its preservation.
  1. Hi

    Just an update on how I got to the site in 15 June 2024. I took a taxi from the market and it cost me 65usd with the driver waiting for me for 1 hour at the site. Takes about 1 hour to get there. Bring lots of water as the site has no cover. Entrance was free.

    Hope that helps


    Just an update (15 June 2024) on how to get to göbekli Tepe by bus in sanluifa. I can share the pictures and screenshot for reference.

    There is a bus number 0 in front of the sanluifa museum that goes every hour and back from the site every hour from 945am. Ask the staff in the museum for the latest information.

    Then a 40 minute ride down the main streets. I have screenshot of the stops.

    Then wehn you reach the bus leaves at 1100am every hour. Cost is about 25 lira each way.

    Entrance to the site is 25 euro but they only accept payment in lira. Cash or card is available. This a one entrance fee, please use the toilet before entering as you will need to pay 25euro to go in again (like me). At the gate a van/bus will drive you up the hill to the site. Every 5 minutes. And will take you down the same. Please bring lots of water as the prices at the site is high.

    Then enjoy the site and take the van down. Catch the bus back to the museum or the town.

    Really worth the trip and a visit to the museum in the city.

    Thanks and have a great trip.

    1. Thank you for your comprehensive comment. We are glad to have the pictures of the stops and other ones you took!

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