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[Anatolian Civilizations] [First settlements in Anatolia]


CATALHOYUK      


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Catalhoyuk is a settlement which dates between 7100-6300 BC. It is situated 50 kilometres southeast of Konya. In Catalhoyuk, multiple archaeological settlement layers were found. 5-6 thousand people are believed to have lived in the area. This indicates that it was a very crowded settlement for that period. It had rich alluvium soil suitable for farming and wildlife was also abundant. There were also forests near the settlement area.


Architecture


Catalhoyuk architecture continues with some features of the aceramic Neolithic era, central Anatolia settlements like Asiklihoyuk and Canhasan. Residences, warehouses and temples are all built on a city plan. The drawing of the Catalhoyuk city plan, which is on one of the building’s walls, is an interesting example.

The walls and roofs of the houses, which were stacked with adobe bricks, were supported with beams and reinforcing beams made from the wood obtained from nearby forests. The houses with one or two rooms were fitted with stoves. This stove was situated right under a hatch in the roof, which enables the ventilation of the room as well.

As in Canhasan, inside there were benches to sit and lie on. They are also a part of the burial tradition. Sometimes bones of the dead were painted in red and then placed under those stone bases in a foetal position. This offers us clues us of a dead burial tradition and a belief system linked with it.

It is understood that some houses in Catalhoyuk were arranged as sacred places serving to this belief system. Although they were not different in architecture and design, the drawings, reliefs and sculpture finds indicate to us that they were used as temples.

Small figurines were found in some of the places arranged as temples. We now understand that they were made for religious purposes. Early examples were made mostly from marble and limestone and the late examples were made from painted clay. None of these figurines are longer than 30 centimetres and they seem to be shaped either one by one or in groups. Although some male figures were found, mostly women were depicted. Fertility of women, which is thought to be related to abundance, is the main theme.

The Goddess Mother figurine sitting and giving birth between two leopards is one of the best-known examples. This figurine, which was made by fired clay, symbolizes abundance, which we remember from Venus figurines of the nomadic tribes. Nature still continues to be the most important source of life for newly settled people. Thus, a goddess mother figure, which symbolizes the abundance and fertility of nature, became sacred for people living in Catalhoyuk and the leopards must have represented power.


Reliefs and Drawings


Reliefs on the temple walls were made from fine clay on lumps of straw, wood or mud. Among those figures, two leopard figures carved adjacent to and facing each other and a female figure with open arms and legs attracting attention. There are also high relief and plastic animal heads. Clay bull’s heads with real animal horns must have been another symbol of power.

Subjects of the drawings on walls show a much diversity. These drawings are the continuation of the cave drawings of semi-nomadic tribes.

Predominantly animals like bulls, deer and wild boars were depicted. Natural colours such as red, yellow or black of metallic origin were used in wall drawings.


Ceramics


Early examples of Catalhoyuk ceramics do not show the wide use of fired earthenware pots and pans. Pots and pans were made mostly of wood and reed weaving. The real pottery whose usage gradually increased were always shaped by hand. These thick walled, heavy and simple pots made from rough clay are generally in single colour and burnished (outside of the ceramic pots were smoothened by the sharp edge of a metal instrument). Later examples show some occasional use of red paint on cream-coloured pots