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13 July 2006
Çatalhöyük excavations unveil very dawn of human civilization

A total of 130 houses have been unearthed to date during excavations at the 9,000-year-old site of Çatalhöyük in Konya's Çumra district (Turkey), excavation assistant team leader Shahina Farid has said. The first excavations at the site - considered one of the oldest settlements in the history of mankind, dating back to the Neolithic Age - were conducted by British archaeologist James Mellart, who uncovered 80 houses during excavations between 1961-1964. Work at the site resumed in 1993 after a long hiatus.
     "Fifty new houses have been uncovered since that date," said Farid. "We are trying to shed light on an obscure period of mankind through these excavations. The excavation findings reveal that there was a river and small lakes in the region 9,000 years ago. We also found buildings were located one above the other. The oldest houses were destroyed after a period of habitation and new structures were built over them. These structures consist of two rooms and a larder. We assume that Çatalhöyük housed a population of around 7,000-10,000 at that time."
     Shahina Farid added the community built their houses of oak and poplar and that wooden columns were brought in by river from a distance of 40 kilometers, adding that research also suggested that these columns were re-utilized in the building of new houses. "We also found more than 60 human skeletons in mud brick houses built side by side. The inhabitants of that period buried the dead underneath the house with a sense of being close to their ancestors. In other words, Çatalhöyük inhabitants were born, died and buried in these houses. We also traced in our research that the community here engaged in farming and animal husbandry and hunted wild animals. Small cattle had been kept before then, while we assume that cows were domesticated during that period.” He also said they had not come across clothing on the skeletons, adding, "Yet pieces of leather we found near the skeletons suggested that they wore skins from deer they hunted." "This year's excavation, which is currently under way with a 45-strong team from different countries that will likely reach around 100 in July, will continue until the end of September," he added.

Source: Turkish Daily News (10 July 2006)

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