Sunday, May 11, 2014

the return to göbeklitepe

Last year, I had the privilege of being invited to join a group of Turkish artists on their tour of Urfa. One of the places we visited was Göbeklitepe, a prehistoric temple built by hunter gatherers around 10,000 BCE. Göbeklitepe is the oldest temple ever found, and what astonishes me is how complex it is— each T-shaped pillar (which is believed to represent the human form) weighs between 40 and 60 tonnes, and is intricately carved with images of birds and mammals. The pillars are arranged in concentric circles, a bit Stonehenge-like, but predating it by 6000 years or so. Mind you, all this was accomplished before the invention of the wheel and what would be considered an organised society.

I had been warned by one of the archaeologists who I have been in contact with, that the site would be covered by a wooden structure in preparation for a future roof, and though the beams got in the way of my photographic aims, the beauty and magic of the place was not lost.

And as I hoped I would, I found the friendly, familiar face of Mahmutbey. I met Mahmutbey last year as he patrolled the site, which rests on his land. He helped me decipher some of the reliefs, explaining that the creature I was sketching was a fox, and pointed out a small rabbit I had not noticed. I so enjoyed meeting him, that when I returned to Istanbul I drew a small portrait of him to give to a colleague who was taking a long weekend in Urfa, which happened to include a trip to Göbeklitepe. To my delight, I was given photos of the portrait delivery.

Mahmutbey remembered me, and accepted my request for another portrait sitting:

What I love most about sketching is how it can bring people together, making the world a little smaller. After all, it brought Pedro to me.

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