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Archaeo News 

19 January 2008
Recent findings and excavations in Çatalhöyük

Çatalhöyük Research Project Director Ian Hodder says goddess icons do not, contrary to assumptions, point to a matriarchal society in Çatalhöyük (Turkey). Findings in Çatalhöyük show that men and women had equal social status. According to Hodder, meticulous archaeological excavation in southeastern Anatolia can change all scientific archaeological assumptions
     While on a short visit to Turkey Hodder spoke about the recent findings and excavations in Çatalhöyük. "We are analyzing DNA. We check bones and teeth to find out about Çatalhöyük residents' eating habits," said Hodder. He thinks that archaeology is like forensic medicine as it makes use of various methods from natural and positive sciences to answer questions like "Why are residential areas so large?" "Why did people choose to live collectively?" "Why did they use the roofs and ladders to enter the houses?" and "Why did they have burial sites on the ground floor of their houses?"
     Hodder said Çatalhöyük has come to be identified with the icon of a goddess, adding, "In the past, public attention was drew to the female icon found during excavation. Therefore, Çatalhöyük came to be identified with the goddess. Female icons, male icons and phallus symbols were found during excavation. When we look at what they eat and drink and at their social statues, we see that men and women had the same social status. There was a balance of power. Another example is the skulls found. If one's social status was of high importance in Çatalhöyük, the body and head were separated after death. The number of female and male skulls found during the excavations is almost equal."
     A total of 18 layers have been excavated in Çatalhöyük thus far. "Research shows that cattle were not domesticated on the lowest layers. Domestication exists on upper layers. Symbolism lessens on upper layers. Buildings are constructed more suited for production. The difference between the layers is huge," said Hodder. He said among the 18 layers, the fifth, sixth and seventh layers are the most important ones, as early art and burial sites are observed the most in these layers. According to Hodder, Çatalhöyük people are devoted very much to their ancestors.
     Hodder plans to open a Çatalhöyük Museum with support from Konya Metropolitan Municipality. "Southeastern Turkey has great archaeological importance. If comprehensive excavations are conducted, we may come across findings that will shock the scientific world. We can even obtain data that would rewrite the science of archaeology. As a matter of fact, excavations in the 11,500 year-old Neolithic residential areas of Göbeklitepe, which lies 15 kilometers northeast of Şanlıurfa, radically changed our knowledge," said Hodder.
     Before the Göbeklitepe excavations it was widely believed that the area stretching from east Mediterranean Lebanon to Jordan experienced an agricultural revolution. Yet, the excavations tore this argument to shreds. Hodder said the agricultural revolution began much earlier in southeastern Anatolia, and recent findings show that the transition to an agricultural society began in more than just one place. Hodder said the male icon and headless bird icon found in Göbeklitepe share similarities with those found in Çatalhöyük. Unlike Çatalhöyük, male symbolism is more prominent in Göbeklitepe. Male sexual organs were drawn on animal icons found in Göbeklitepe, which leads to the complete disposal of the idea that agriculture is related to female and goddess images, he concluded.

Source: Turkish Daily News (17 January 2008)

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