Where is Çatalhöyük Neolithic Ancient City? Çatalhöyük Ancient City History and Story

catalhoyuk neolithic ancient city where catalhoyuk ancient city history and story
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Çatalhöyük is a very large Neolithic Age and Chalcolithic Age settlement in Central Anatolia, which has been a settlement 9 thousand years ago. It consists of two mounds side by side in the east and west directions. The settlement called Çatalhöyük (East) in the east settled in the Neolithic Age, and the western mound called Çatalhöyük (West) in the Chalcolithic Age. It is located 52 km southeast of today's Konya city, approximately 136 kilometers away from Hasandağı, 11 km north of Çumra district, in a wheat field overlooking Konya Plain. The eastern settlement is a settlement that reached up to 20 meters above the plain during the Polished Stone Age. There is also a small settlement to the west and a Byzantine settlement a few hundred meters east.

The mounds were settled roughly 2 thousand years without interruption. Especially, it is remarkable with the width of the neolithic settlement, its population, and the strong artistic and cultural tradition it creates. It is assumed that over 8 thousand people live in the settlement. The main difference of Çatalhöyük from other neolithic settlements is that it overcomes a village settlement and lives the urbanization phase. The inhabitants of this settlement, one of the oldest settlements in the world, are also one of the first agricultural communities. As a result of these features, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Temporary List in 2009. It was decided by UNESCO to be included in the World Heritage List in 2012.

Research and excavations

Doğu Höyük (Çatalhöyük (East)) is probably the oldest and most developed Neolithic Age settlement to date. It was discovered by James Mellaart in 1958, and the first excavations were made in 1961-1963 and 1965. In 1993, excavations started again and continued until today, is managed by Ian Hodder from Cambridge University and Britain, Turkey, Greece, it is carried out by a mixed team of American researchers. The excavations were carried out in Doğu Höyük, which is predominantly the "main mound". The excavation works here are planned to continue until 2018.

In the west mound, in 1961 two depth soundings were performed on the mound and on the southern slope. When the second period excavations started in 1993 in Doğu Höyük, surface research and surface stripping studies were initiated in Batı Höyük.

Prehistoric settlements were abandoned before the Bronze Age. Once a channel of the Çarşamba River flows between the two settlements, and the settlements were built on alluvial soil, which could be considered favorable during the first agricultural times. The entrances of the houses are located at the top.


  • Çatalhöyük (East)

During the excavations BC. Eighteen layers of Neolithic settlements dating between 7400 and 6200 have been unearthed. Among these layers shown in Roman numerals, layers XII - VIII are dated to the first phase of the Early Neolithic (18 - 6500 BC). The second phase of the Early Neolithic VI. is post layer. 

  • Çatalhöyük (West)

Based on the pottery findings obtained from the trenches carried out on the hill and the southern slope during the first excavation year, it was suggested that the settlement in Höyük was a two-phase Early Chalcolithic Age settlement. Ware group dated to Early Chalcolithic I by Mellaart Western Çatalhöyük property It is called. The Early Chalcolithic II ware group, on the other hand, appears to originate from the previous one and was produced by a later settlement associated with the layer 1B of Can Hasan 2. While the excavations were continuing in the Eastern Höyük, Byzantine and Hellenistic Period sherds were collected in the surface collections that started in the West Mound. During the surveys carried out in 1994, burial pits belonging to the Binzas Period were unearthed.

The Chalcolithic Age levels in East Mound are dated from 6200 to 5200 BC.


  • Çatalhöyük (East)

The architecture in the northern part looks different from other parts. The radial order here probably depends on the streets, passages, water and drainage channels that extend to the center of the settlement. In this section, it consists of architecture, residences and open spaces, there are no palaces, temples, large storage areas for common use.

It is understood that the houses are built adjacent to each other, therefore the walls are used jointly, and narrow passages opening to the courtyard are left between them. These courtyards are areas that provide air and lighting on the one hand, and are used as garbage. These houses built around the courtyards have formed the neighborhoods. Çatalhöyük city emerged by lining these neighborhoods side by side.

Houses are built on top of each other according to the same plan. The walls of the previous dwelling became the foundations of the next one. The usage period of the houses seems to be 80 years. When this period expired, the house was cleaned, filled with earth and rubble, and a new one was built on the same plan.

The residences were built with rectangular mudbrick bricks without a stone foundation and in a rectangular plan. There are warehouses and side rooms adjacent to the main rooms. There are rectangular, square or oval transitions between them. The roofs were made by plastering the tops of the reed and reed roofs with a thick layer of clay, which is called white soil today. These are wooden beams bearing the roofs and are based on wooden posts placed inside the walls. On the face of the different trends of the land, the height of the housing walls is also different, and benefiting from this difference, window openings are left on the upper parts of the western and southern walls to provide lighting and ventilation. The floors, walls and all building elements inside the houses are plastered with a white plaster. About 3 cm. 160 layers were determined in a thick plaster. It was understood that the plaster was made using a white calcareous, national clay. In order not to crack, weed, plant stems and leaf pieces were added. The entrance to the residences is provided by a hole in the roof, most likely by a wooden ladder. There is no entrance on the side walls. The ovens and oval shaped ovens inside the house are mostly located on the southern wall. There is at least one platform in each residence. Under them were buried with rich burial gifts. In some of the storage rooms, clay boxes made of burnishing stones, axes and stone tools were found.

Burnt lime lumps detected by Mellaart in the early layers of the mound are not found in the upper layers. It is already observed that lime is used as plaster in the lower layers, but clay is used for plaster in the upper layers. Excavation head Hodder and Wendy Matthews of the Ankara British Archaeological Institute are of the opinion that the use of lime was abandoned in the later stages, as it requires a lot of wood. Limestone turns into quicklime after it is baked at a temperature up to 750 degrees. This required large amounts of trees to be cut from the environment. Archaeologists acknowledge that similar troubles were also experienced in the Middle East neolithic settlements, for example Ayn Gazal was abandoned 8.000 years ago because of making the environment uninhabitable for providing firewood.

During the 1963 excavations on the north and east walls of the building, which is thought to be a sacred place, a map, which was understood to have a city plan, was found. This drawing, dated approximately 8200 years ago (6200 ± 97 BC, determined by radiocarbon dating method), is the world's first known map. Approximately 3 meters long and 90 cm. has a height. It is still exhibited in Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum.

Çatalhöyük (West)
During the 1961 excavations led by James Mellaart, a structure dating to Early Chalcolithic I was unearthed. The walls in this rectangular building with mudbrick walls are plastered with a greenish yellow plaster. In the early Chalcolithic II layer, a structure consisting of relatively large and well-built central chambers surrounded by cell-type chambers was revealed.


Çatalhöyük (East)
Although the pottery was previously known in Doğu Höyük, it was only widely used after building level V. The reason for this is the advanced skill in wood and basket. XII. The pottery belonging to the building level is primitive, thick, black-core, plant added and poorly cooked. Color, buff, cream and light gray are variegated and burnished. As a form, deep bowls and less narrow jars were made.

Çatalhöyük (West)
According to Mellaart, the pottery of Batı Höyük is divided into two groups depending on stratification. It is made in Early Chalcolithic I, with buff or reddish paste, with stone and mica added. The paint used is red, pale red and light brown. Primer is not known in these goods which were burned after painting. [12]

Çatalhöyük (East)
Some of the wide variety of small finds uncovered include obsidian mirrors, mace heads, stone beads, saddle-shaped hand mills, grinding stones, mortars, pestles, gemstones, stone rings, bracelets, hand axes, cutters, oval cups, deep spoons, scoops, needles, us, belt buckles and bone tools from polished bone. [19]

Stamp seals from baked clay are counted as the first examples of stamp seals. They are thought to be used on various printing surfaces such as weaving products and bread. Most of them are oval or rectangular in shape, but a flower-shaped stamp seal has also been found and is seen in woven patterns.

The figurine finds were carved from terracotta, chalk, pumice stone and water marble. All the figurines are seen as objects of worship.

Life style

The fact that the houses were built side by side and side by side has been a separate subject of research. In this regard, the head of the excavation, Hodder, is of the opinion that this cramped restructuring is not based on defense concerns, since traces of war and destruction have never been observed. It was probably that the family ties, covering many generations, were strong, and the dwellings were built on top of each other on the owned land.

It is thought that the houses are kept clean and well maintained. During the excavations, no garbage or debris was found inside the houses. However, it has been observed that litter and ashes form piles outside the houses. As the roofs are used as streets, many daily activities are thought to be maintained in the roofs, especially on days when the weather is good. It is assumed that the large hearths unearthed in the roofs in later stages were used in this style and in common.

It is observed that child burials are mostly buried under the benches in the rooms and adults are buried in the room floor. Some skeletons were found headless. It is thought that their heads were removed after a while. Some bodyless heads were found in abandoned houses. In the examination of child burials that were buried in carefully woven baskets, it was found that some holes were more than usual around the eye holes. It is suggested that this may have been caused by anemia based on malnutrition.


It is understood that the first settlers of Çatalhöyük were a hunter-gatherer community. It has been determined that the inhabitants of the settlement have realized the Neolithic Revolution from Level 6, they started to cultivate plants such as wheat, barley and peas, and domesticated cattle while intensively hunting. It is thought that economic activities are not limited to this, obsidian from Ilicapınar and salt are produced from Ilıcapınar, and surplus production exceeding the use of the town is sold to the nearby settlements. The existence of seashells, thought to come from the Mediterranean shores and used as jewelry, give information about the spread of this trade. On the other hand, the fabric pieces found are described as the oldest examples of weaving. It is stated that crafts such as pottery, woodwork, basketry and bone tool production are also in an advanced state.

Art and Culture

Panels were built on the interior walls of the houses. Some are undecorated and painted in various shades of red. Some have geometric ornaments, rug patterns, interlocking circles, stars, and floral motifs. In some, hand and footprints, goddesses, humans, birds and other animals are adorned with a variety of depictions reflecting the hunting scenes and the natural environment. Another type of decoration used is embossed descriptions. The bull heads and horns placed on the platforms in the interior are interesting. Many houses have reliefs made by plastering real bull heads with clay. In some places these are in a series, and it is claimed by Mellaart that these structures are sacred places or temples. In the firefighted room of the building called Building 52, an in situ bull head and horns were found as a whole. The bull's head placed inside the wall is not exposed. In the upper part, there are 11 animal horns and some animal skulls. A series of bull horns are located on a bench right next to the bull's head.

The depictions on the walls are hunting and dancing scenes, human and animal paintings. Animal pictures are animals such as vulture, leopard, various birds, deer and lion. In addition, motifs that can be called rug motifs dating back 8800 years are also seen and are associated with today's Anatolian rug motifs. The figurine finds are cattle, pig, sheep, goat, bull, dog, and single cattle horns.


Doğu Höyük is the oldest settlement in Anatolia where sacred structures are found. The rooms defined as sacred are larger than others. These rooms are thought to be reserved for the ritual and its surroundings. Wall painting, reliefs and sculptures are more intense and different than other residential rooms. More than XNUMX such structures were unearthed at Doğu Höyük. The walls of these buildings are decorated with descriptions that reflect the magic of hunting and abundance. In addition, leopard, bull and ram heads, goddess-giving goddess figures were made as reliefs. Geometric ornaments are also frequently found in these coasts. On the other hand, it is seen that nature events affecting the society are also depicted. For example, a description that is thought to have exploded the nearby volcanic Hasan Mountain has been revealed.

Çatalhöyük III in the East Mound. Layers from Level X to Level X contain numerous terracotta figurines, bull heads and horns, and female breast reliefs inside the sacred structures. The Mother Goddess is depicted as a young woman, a woman giving birth and an old woman. With the dating of these finds, it is accepted that one of the oldest Mother Goddess Cult centers in Anatolia was Çatalhöyük. In the Cult of Mother Goddess, which symbolizes abundance, male heads are thought to represent the horned bull heads. Friendly and loving descriptions symbolize the life and fertility of the Mother Goddess, while sometimes descriptive descriptions express the ability to take back this life and fertility. The goddess statue depicted with a bird of prey thought to be a vulture and a semi-icon-style scary figurine represent the Mother Goddess's bond with the land of the dead. The similarity between the fat female figure giving birth based on the leopards on both sides and the Inanna - Ishtar of the Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Isis - Sekhmet in the Egyptian belief, which are depicted sitting on the throne of the lion, is remarkable.

On the other hand, in the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük, it is understood that the house not only functions like sheltering, storing and storing goods, but also has a number of symbolic meanings. The main theme is bull heads in both the houses and the murals of the buildings, which are regarded as sacred places. The forehead bones of the bulls, which are defined as wild cattle today, the parts of the forehead bones where the horns sit, and the horns are combined with mudbrick struts and used as an architectural element. It was noted that the wall paintings in the dwellings were more intense in the parts where the dead were buried, and it was suggested that this was perhaps a kind of communication with the dead. So much so that after painting the top of the wall paintings again, it was found that the painting under the plaster was painted on the new plaster.

An interesting finding is that the teeth in the burial pit of a house are determined to come from the jaw bone in the burial pit of the house in a sub-stage. Thus, it is understood that the skulls of human and animal passing from house to house are seen as heritage or important objects.

Evaluation and dating

The head of the excavation, Hodder, believes that the settlement was founded not by immigrants from distant areas, but by a small indigenous community, and has grown over time due to population growth. Indeed, the dwellings in the first layers are more rare compared to the upper layers. In the upper layers, they are intertwined.

On the other hand, there are neolithic settlements older than Çatalhöyük in the Middle East. For example, it is a neolithic settlement a thousand years older than Eriha Çatalhöyük. Nevertheless, Çatalhöyük has different features than older or contemporary settlements. Initially, it is the population that reaches ten thousand people. According to Hodder, Çatalhöyük is “a center that takes the concept of the village beyond the logical dimensions”. Many archaeologists are of the opinion that extraordinary murals and instruments in Çatalhöyük are incompatible with known neolithic traditions. Another difference of Çatalhöyük is generally accepted that centralized management and hierarchy appear in settlements that reach a certain size. However, there is no evidence of social division of labor at Çatalhöyük, like public buildings. Although Hodder has a very large population, Çatalhöyük has not lost its “egalitarian village”. About Çatalhöyük,

«On the one hand, it is part of a larger pattern, on the other hand, a completely original unit, this is the most surprising aspect of Çatalhöyük. »Says.

In subsequent research, attention was drawn to the dwellings that contain more burials than others (at most 5-10, while one of these houses had 30 burials), where architectural and interior decorative elements were studied much better. These buildings, which are called “historical houses” by the excavation team, have been suggested to have more control over production (and of course distribution), to be richer and not to be as egalitarian as the Çatalhöyük community originally thought. However, it was understood that the various data obtained were not different from other houses except for the interior decoration and the number of excess burials, and that there was no social differentiation.

Researches did not provide a clue to the continuation of Çatalhöyük neolithic culture. It is stated that the neolithic culture regressed after the abandonment of the Neolithic settlement.

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