ÇATALHÖYÜK (TURKEY - KONYA - ÇUMRA)
Where is Çatalhöyük?
The site is in central Turkey, southeast of the modern city of Konya. Archaeologists believe the ancient city covered an area the size of 50 soccer fields!
What are they excavating at Çatalhöyük?
Archaeologists are excavating the remains of a Neolithic town. 9,000 years ago, this place was one of the world's largest settlements. At a time when most of the world's people were wandering hunter-gatherers, as many as 10,000 people lived at Çatalhöyük.
What does Çatalhöyük mean?
Çatalhöyük means 'forked mound' and refers to the site's east and west mounds, which formed as centuries of townspeople tore down and rebuilt the settlement's mud-brick houses. No one knows what the townspeople called their home 9,000 years ago.
Are the excavations going on now?
The excavations began in the 1960s headed by a British archaeologist named James Mellaart but were stopped due to the technical inability at that time to adequately preserve the findings. The dig restarted in the 1990s and will continue into the second decade of the 21st century! Archaeologists are on site during the Turkish summer, but work on the restoring and analyzing findings year 'round.
Can I visit the site?
Yes! The season varies each year but if you are in Turkey between June and August you may be able to see the excavation in process. The site itself is open year-round.
Who is working on Çatalhöyük?
An international team of archaeologists and other specialists work on and off site from countries including (but not limited to) Turkey and the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Poland, Greece, South Africa, Spain and Germany.
Why are they studying Çatalhöyük?
To learn more about the Neolithic Period, or new Stone Age, when people began abandoning hunter-gatherer lifestyles to settle in communities, grow crops, and raise animals.
How old is the ancient city?
It is 8 ,000 to 10,000 years old.
Exciting new discoveries at Çatalhöyük
160 people from all over the world have assembled at Çatalhöyük again this summer. The team has come from Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Serbia, Australia, Poland in fact 21 different countries. All these people have come to join Turkish colleagues working at the site. There are three Turkish teams, from Istanbul University, Selcuk University and the University of Thrace. The team as a whole has made some exciting new discoveries that are changing interpretations of this 9000 year old site in the Konya region.
Çatalhöyük is an important Neolithic site near Çumra, Konya. It was inhabited by up to 8000 people who lived in a large town. There were no streets and people moved around on the roof tops and entered their houses through holes in the roofs. Inside their houses people made wonderful art paintings, reliefs and sculptures which have survived across the millennia. The art was first found by James Mellaart in the 1960s. New excavations under the direction of Ian Hodder started in 1993 and will continue to 2017, under the auspices of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara and with permission from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The new excavations use modern scientific techniques to reconstruct the ways that people lived at Çatalhöyük.
A new shelter has been constructed over a new area of excavation . This was designed by Atölye Mimarlik in Istanbul and has been wonderfully successful in protecting the archaeological remains. It is also pleasant to work under and its design fits into the mound and the landscape very well. The ends and sides of the shelter will be covered in the winter months. Over the long term 40 buildings will be placed on display beneath the shelter, allowing visitors and tourists to see a 9000 year old town frozen at a moment in time.
Beneath the shelter we have found a very exciting and impressive burned building that we are calling Building 77 . Because this building was burned, there are many finds preserved within it. In particular, around the northeast platform in this building we found wild bull horns set in pillars . These seem to be protecting the human burials beneath the platform. On the wall by these bull horns was a plastered sheep head with horns removed, and below the sheep head there is a small niche. This evidence shows that very elaborate buildings like those found by James Mellaart in the 1960s occur in parts of the site well away from the areas excavated by Mellaart. Also, it is clear that the building was a domestic house it was not a non-domestic shrine