Prof. Dr. Friederike Fless, President of the DAI, welcomes Jeff Morgan as an honorary member of the Cultural Heritage Committee of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Photo: Brian Rose
Since founding GHF in 2002, Jeff Morgan has devoted his life to preserving the developing world’s most important and endangered cultural heritage sites. His efforts and enthusiasm have been praised by many in the international archaeology community — from GHF’s groundbreaking 2010 report, Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, to GHF’s 19 current and completed projects — and this month he received another honor for his achievements in conservation.
At the annual dinner of the American Friends of the German Archaeological Institute (AFDAI), held October 18th at the German House in New York City, Morgan was made an Honorary Member of the Cultural Heritage Committee of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) by action of the President, Friederike Fless, for “scholarship and high attainments in the field of cultural heritage,” with special recognition of his dedicated commitment to the GHF Göbekli Tepe project.
Much of the evening was focused on Göbekli Tepe, an 11,600-year-old mountain sanctuary in southeastern Turkey, which GHF has been working to conserve since 2010. Tuba Tola Turhut, representative of the Turkish Consulate General in New York, was in attendance as Jakob von Wagner, Head of Cultural Affairs at the German Consulate General, called the AFDAI a shining example of German-American friendship and the Göbekli Tepe project an outstanding model for the triangular cooperation between Germany, Turkey and the United States.
Local workers make up the majority of the conservation team at Göbekli Tepe. Photo: GHF
Also in attendance was DAI archaeologist Dr. Klaus Schmidt, director of the Göbekli Tepe project, who has been excavating and studying the site since he discovered it in 1994. In June 2011, Göbekli Tepe and Dr. Schmidt were the focus of a National Geographic cover story titled “Birth of Religion,” which discussed the significance of the site’s massive pillars and how they are reshaping contemporary ideas about the Neolithic Revolution and the dawn of civilization.
GHF Göbekli Tepe is the first conservation program in the site’s history. In partnership with the DAI, German Research Foundation (DFG), Şanlıurfa Municipal Government, and Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the project’s goals are to support the preparation of a Site Management and Conservation Plan, construction of a shelter over the exposed archaeological features, training of local community members in guiding and conservation, and assisting the Turkish government in securing UNESCO World Heritage nomination.
In 2011, a wooden “catwalk” was built around the main excavation area to allow worker and visitor access around the monuments. Various site protection activities were also carried out, including the addition of protective dry stone walls around Neolithic structures, the refilling of excavated terrazzo floors with sifted sand for protection, and the construction of wooden casings for pillars and wall plaster to protect them from further damage by rainwater/temperature-induced fracturing.
A wooden “catwalk” was erected to allow worker and visitor access around the site. Photo: Klaus Schmidt
Preparations for the proposed shelter (whose concepts were on display at the AFDAI dinner) have included several soundings made to prepare the locations for the shelter structure’s footings. GHF Senior Technical Advisor John Hurd has conducted a preliminary Site Conservation Inspection, prepared a Mortar and Plaster Documentation Report, and collected samples for lab testing to identify appropriate conservation materials.
Earlier this year, GHF announced two critical new funding pledges: a $400,000 in-country matching fund pledge from the Vehbi Koç Foundation, and a $125,000 pledged donation from the J.M. Kaplan Fund. Peter Davidson, Chair of the J.M. Kaplan Fund’s Board of Trustees, and Ken Lustbader, a Program Consultant with the fund, were both on hand at the AFDAI dinner to congratulate Morgan on becoming an honorary member of the DAI’s Cultural Heritage Committee.
Click here to read the German Consulate General’s recap of the AFDAI dinner
Click here to explore Göbekli Tepe on Global Heritage Network