The Most Magnificent Place In The World: Catalhoyuk

The Most Magnificent Place In The World: Catalhoyuk

The Most Magnificent Place In The World: Catalhoyuk

One of the Neolithic Age towns where people made the transition from a nomadic way of life-based on hunting and gathering to a settled way of life and agricultural society was Catalhoyuk. It is situated within the boundaries of Küçükköy on the Konya Plain in Central Anatolia, 52 km southeast of Konya, and 12 km north of the Cumra District.  Assumed to have once flowed between the East and West Mounds, which are now only followed by a row of trees on either side of the river’s course, the Carsamba Stream’s accumulation cone is where Catalhoyuk was constructed.

It is speculated that the name “Catalhoyuk” originated from the road that came from the nearby town of Cumra, where it forked into several different directions. Catalhoyuk is composed of two distinct hills placed side by side. The B.C. East Mound was built during the Neolithic period and has been dated to between 7400 BC and BC. It was built during the Chalcolithic Period, which began around 6000 BC, and is known as the West Mound.

East and West: Catalhoyuk

Even though people started living in Catalhoyuk around 9400 years ago, during the Neolithic Period, they lived there for another 2000 years, until the Chalcolithic Period. East and West Catalhoyuk are the two mounds that make up the Catalhoyuk settlement. East Catalhoyuk is the center of the settlement. It has 18 Neolithic settlement layers and three hills that are 21 meters high. It is 13.5 hectares in size and was built in BC. It has ruins from the Neolithic period, which happened between 7200 and 6400 BCE, as well as the Roman, Byzantine, and Early Seljuk periods. The land area of West Catalhoyuk is 8.5 hectares. It shows how people lived during the Chalcolithic Period. It is about 8 meters high and 2 meters below the current plain level. The land is slightly sloped.

Excavation History Of Catalhoyuk

With its original discoveries of the first settlement, the first house architecture, and the first sacred structures, Catalhoyuk is a hub that illuminates the history of humanity. James Mellaart, along with teammates David French and Alan Hall, stumbled upon the settlement in 1958. Between 1961 and 1965, Mellaart excavated a total of 160 structures at Catalhoyuk with the help of a large team of Turkish workers and some international researchers.

Furthermore, it helped get the word out about the discoveries and spread Catalhoyuk’s fame all over the world. 

The excavations at Catalhoyuk were restarted in 1993 under the direction of British archaeologist Ian Hodder, following a lengthy hiatus due to various reasons.  After more than 50 years of digging, most of the artifacts discovered at Catalhoyuk are now on display in museums in the area. The artifacts discovered by Mellaart’s team in the 1960s can be seen on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, while those discovered by Hodder’s group are housed in the Konya Archaeological Museum.

Catalhoyuk’s Artistic Contributions

Interior paintings and decorations at Catalhoyuk reveal details about the community’s social and religious practices. After the plaster is painted white, paintings in tones of yellow, red, and black are made and hung on the walls. These works feature a wide variety of subjects, from geometric patterns to handprints to human and animal figures (vulture, leopard, wild deer), hunting and dance scenes designed to attract games, and even scenes of the natural world.

At Catalhoyuk, they made lots of tools and decorative items, and they all turned out to be pretty well preserved. Household items included miniature sculptures, ceramics, obsidian objects, baskets, clay balls, beads, tools, and needles made from bone. In addition, the terracotta and stone “Mother Goddess” figurines representing new life, fertility, and plenty are among the most significant artifacts discovered at Catalhoyuk.

Burial at Catalhoyuk

The residents of Catalhoyuk interred their dead beneath the benches and the rooms’ floors. Few of them were buried wrapped in a cloth or mat with their feet pulled to the groin as in the womb; the majority of them were left in the open air, and the skeletons, which were collected after the soft parts were decomposed and occasionally painted red, were left under the floor. It has been established that family members interred one or more loved ones beneath these benches. For women, grave gifts included paint palettes, natural glass mirrors, bone needles, tiny green stone necklaces, copper, and a variety of stone beads. Men received flint daggers, arrows, spearheads, marble mace heads, and clay stamp seals.

Catalhoyuk Legends

In the oddly designed city of Catalhoyuk, there was one temple area for every two homes. Some of the homes had animal heads and horns and were used exclusively for religious purposes. Fascinatingly, at Catalhoyuk, no evidence of a priest or religious leader was ever discovered. There were indications of similar beliefs in Mesopotamian cultures as well.

In 2016, a new female statue was discovered. At first, it was speculated that this statue represented a goddess in some religions. It’s common knowledge that many other figurines with remarkably similar designs have been discovered. Researchers have found no evidence that these figures represent any particular goddess or belief system; rather, they serve as symbols of the powerful and prominent women in society. Some argue that they provide compelling proof of a matriarchal society. Limestone is used to make the majority of the figurines. Obsidian, a form of volcanic rock, was used to carve them, and the sculpture demonstrates that they were then preserved in volcanic glass.

Evidence from the sixth layer suggests that Catalhoyuk’s society had mastered the cultivation of wheat, barley, and peas.

In Catalhoyuk, a home was used for no more than 80 years before it was torn down. The house was filled with rubble after the demolition crew had removed all of the usable items, collapsed the roof, and removed any wooden beams used in the construction process. Later, homes were constructed atop these piles, and the city grew vertically rather than laterally. Over 1200 years, cities grew in roughly 16 successive layers.