Changing Planet

Inside Turkey’s Top Archaeological Sites

The Dialogue of Civilizations team visited two of Turkey’s most spectacular archaeological sites this week in between presentations by archaeologists to the public about the five “founding civilizations” around the world. (Read all posts from the conference.)

At Göbekli Tepe, Klaus Schmidt showed them around the oldest human-constructed ceremonial site in the world. (Learn more in the June 2006 National Geographic Magazine.)

Later at Zeugma, spectacular mosaics emerged from the dirt of current excavations and glittered in the displays of the Gaziantep Mosaic Museum. Explore the sites for yourself in the photos, galleries, and virtual tours linked below. You can also follow and join the conversation on Twitter using #5civilizations.

Director of the site, Klaus Schmidt, gives a glimpse of the shallow excavations of more temples at Göbekli Tepe. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

Director of the site, Klaus Schmidt, gives a glimpse of the shallow excavations of more temples at Göbekli Tepe. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

In this gallery, explore the sights of Göbekli Tepe in its heyday, with the largest and oldest circle completed—and another under construction—as people go about various tasks related to this enormous undertaking. (Illustration by Fernando Baptista)

CLICK TO EXPLORE RECONSTRUCTION: In this gallery, explore the sights of Göbekli Tepe in its heyday, with the largest and oldest circle completed—and another under construction—as people go about various tasks related to this enormous undertaking. (Illustration by Fernando Baptista)

A gentle washing awakens the full vibrancy of a 2nd-c. A.D. mosaic from a Roman villa at Zeugma on the banks of the Euphrates. The infant Perseus and his mother Danaë (of Zeus’ shower of gold fame) are rescued from a wooden chest. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

Newly discovered mosaics above the level of the dam reservoir's reach are left and protected in place. Prof. Kutalmış Görkay gives the Dialogue of Civilizations team an introduction. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

Most of the mosaics from Zeugma were moved when the nearby dam was built, since the land they were on would become submerged. Newly discovered mosaics like this one featuring the Muses are protected and left in place. Prof. Kutalmış Görkay gives the Dialogue of Civilizations team an introduction. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

CLICK TO LAUNCH VIRTUAL TOUR: The loving and longing of two mythological would-be lovers is captured in a mosaic on display at the Zeugma museum. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

CLICK TO LAUNCH VIRTUAL MUSEUM TOUR: The loving and longing of two mythological would-be lovers is captured in a mosaic on display at the Zeugma museum. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

Read All Posts From the Dialogue of Civilizations 

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. He is currently beginning a new role as communications director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish.Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010.He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history.
  • Alicia Curione

    These pictures are mind blowing once you find out how old these mosaics really are! I’m impressed and can only wish that someday, I will get to travel to Turkey (as well as several other countries) to enjoy the discoveries in these archaeological digs. I grew up with a parent who used to go on digs in South America regularly. People had to be careful then since they could contract malaria. Many people don’t think about the risks these digs can bring. It is a dangerous job, yet benficial to our world in learning who our ancestors were and how life has changed. Certain animals have become extinct, the environment may have changed dramatically, etc. thank you to the team who shared this story and photos with us along the way!

  • Alicia Curione

    These pictures are mind blowing once you find out how old these mosaics really are! I’m impressed and can only wish that someday, I will get to travel to Turkey (as well as several other countries) to enjoy the discoveries in these archaeological digs. I grew up with a parent who used to go on digs in South America regularly. People had to be careful then since they could contract malaria. Many people don’t think about the risks these digs can bring. It is a dangerous job, yet benficial to our world in learning who our ancestors were and how life has changed. Certain animals have become extinct, the environment may have changed dramatically, etc. thank you to the team who shared this story and photos with us along the way!

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