The Land of Beginnings: Çatalhöyük

The Neolithic ‘city’ of Çatalhöyük, in the Çumra county of Konya province, was renowned for its extraordinary arts and crafts, and the earliest finds were from 7,400 BC. The settlement was an international key to unlocking the basis of civilisation and agriculture. The social organisation of the Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük and its urban plan are believed to represent the ideals of equality. Çatalhöyük was discovered in 1958 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2012.

The East Mound of Çatalhöyük at sunrise. Photograph taken by Jason Quinlan.

The East Mound of Çatalhöyük at sunrise. Image credit: Jason Quinlan.

It has been renowned as one of the earliest settlements of the Neolithic Era and sheds light on the dawn of human settlement with unique examples of the earliest domestic architecture and landscape painting as well as the sacred objects of mother-goddess cult.

This is an artist’s impression of Çatalhöyük. Image credit: Dan Lewandowski.

This is an artist’s impression of Çatalhöyük. Image credit: Dan Lewandowski.

Life at the Neolithic Era

Çatalhöyük has indicated that the history of mining in Anatolia goes back to the Neolithic Era and provided ample evidence that the people were involved in agriculture as well as hunting and gathering. Çatalhöyük is the first site where the city plan was depicted in their wall paintings. It can be seen through baked clay seals that our concept of property ownership was developed in that era.

A perfectly preserved mother goddess found in Çatalhöyük - Image Credit: http://aa.com.tr/

A perfectly preserved mother goddess found in Çatalhöyük – Image Credit: http://aa.com.tr/

Among the most significant objects unearthed in Çatalhöyük were the figurines of the mothergoddess. Being the proof of reverence to the fertility of the goddess, these figurines indicated that the belief system of the era was centred on an all-powerful goddess.

The Tumulus at Çatalhöyük

The tumulus is a remarkable urban architecture with a history that goes back approximately 9,400 years. When a family’s time in the household ended, it was filled with earth and a new one was built on top. Building new layers of family adobes on top of each other created the present day 21-metres tall tumulus. Excavating the tumulus revealed that there were 18 structural layers and that the materials used in the construction were cob, timber and reeds. The ceilings were made of compressed clay soil laid over reed mats.

The Adobes at Çatalhöyük

A representation of Çatalhöyük Adobe - Image Credit: http://arkeofili.com

A representation of Çatalhöyük Adobe – Image Credit: http://arkeofili.com

The adobes were a single storey, and the entrance was through a trapdoor on the ceiling with a ladder to the floor level. Each adobe had both a room and a storage area with each room containing a square cooking hearth. The walls were plastered and whitewashed, on top of which yellow, red and black pigments were used to create wall paintings. The skulls of bulls, rams, and stags were conserved with compacted clay and attached to the walls. Human and animal reliefs were also unearthed alongside them.

 

Reference:

http://www.kulturvarliklari.gov.tr

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