Çatalhöyük (7100 to 5700 BCE)

Reconstruction of Catalhoyuk
A good reconstruction of Catalhoyuk showing it on fertile marshy ground surrounded by fields between two streams. The Akkadian speakers were starting their migration westwards.
(Painting by Dan Lewandowski. Found at: http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-catalhoyuk-map-mural-volcanic-eruption-01681.html)
Below is a map from the interdisciplinary Sheffield Archaeology department showing its location in a lowland marsh in what is today south central Turkey. (from https://www.archatlas.org/atlas/visualisations/sitesfromsatellites/catalhoyuk/)
Map showing location of Catalhoyuk

Çatalhöyük Overview

(July 5, 2022) Catalhoyuk (7100 to 5700 BCE) was an early agricultural settlement of about 8,000 people in south central Anatolia. It was the first stop of the Neolithic farmer settlers coming out of the Middle East. It was located in an ideal agricultural setting being next to a marsh allowing for many flat agricultural fields separated by a network of small streams providing a natural sort of irrigation and abundant fish and shell fish. Floods would have renewed the soil every year.

The organization of the town was ancestral continuing the trends evidenced at Gobekli Tepe. No semi-public spaces devoted to fertility rituals have yet been found like those at Gobekli Tepe. Spiritual practices seemed to have occurred only in the houses. 

On the south side of every house was the hearth and food preparation area. The north side was the spiritual work space and possibly the sleeping area often having raised platforms below which artifacts of spiritual power were buried. These included ancestor bones, figurines, and auroch skulls. 

The number of human bone burials on the north side correlates with the richness of the religious symbolism in that house. The longer a house was in a family the more spiritual power that house seems to have acquired. Consequently, these houses would be rebuilt above the old ones for hundreds of years indicating a continuing family presence and tradition. Older people were honored in this society as evidenced by discarded food bones which shows the residents of the houses with the larger number of spiritual icons ate more meat than average. No differentiation in gender status is in evidence. Plastered heads used as spiritual ancestral icons were equally male and female. No family gained more material wealth or power relative to the others over time.

Some of the bones and even skulls of the buried ancestors were removed. The bones were apparently placed elsewhere while many of the skulls were plastered to act as house décor. One buried woman was even found clutching a plastered skull. 


Ian Holder’s 2014 Flikr stream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catalhoyuk/albums/72157647113315030

House 77 of Çatalhöyük Showing Auroch Horns

House 77 of Çatalhöyük Showing Auroch Horns

North end of large house 77 showing the raised platforms. One platform has wild bull (auroch) horns. Whole auroch skulls were sometimes buried in the houses. 
Storm bulls represented the chaotic connection powers of the Ancient Pagan Paradigm. The power of chaos was needed to bring the rains but it did so by hiding the sun with its clouds. Consequently, the masculine connective life power has two aspects.
Photo from 2008 excavation season at project leader Ian Holder’s flickr stream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catalhoyuk/albums/72157608731868428/with/3009675029/And lecture at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmFKBf5OVoI
Çatalhöyük White Venus in Situ

Çatalhöyük White Venus in Situ

Çatalhöyük Venus found under a plastered house floor in 2016. This find is not unique. White Venuses represented the feminine life source powers of the Ancient Pagan Paradigm which were also associated with dead spirits.
Photo from Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Çatalhöyük Building 80 Life Network Painting

Çatalhöyük Building 80 Life Network Painting

Painting of the life irrigation network on wall with many spaces filled in with the rectangular pattern seen in the 4300 BCE European Fish Net. This is good evidence that the Ancient Pagan Paradigm was being followed at this time.
Photo from Ian Holder’s 2014 flikr stream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/catalhoyuk/albums/72157647113315030