ONGOING EXCAVATIONS - CATAL HOYUK


Archeological excavations have always been delicate work requiring painstaking skill and patience. With current technological advancements being utilised at Catal Hoyuk, the excavation is being pursued with particular interest and care. Even though technology perhaps has not made a significant change in the time taken to excavate it certainly has aided in the removal and evaluation of findings.

Magnetic sensors and satellite technology have greatly assisted in the selection of appropriate areas for excavation as well as in the planning. Global Positioning Systems have markedly improved the accuracy in establishing coordinates and ground measurements are made using laser equipment.

To evaluate delicate, minute findings the researchers also employ a method of sifting, using water to detect trace metals and other small particles. This is the only suitable process for locating tiny pieces of scattered organic and inorganic materials. At Catal Hoyuk not one shred of minute material is overlooked; every piece is sifted and placed under powerful microscopes for detailed examination. Larger pieces of organic materials such as, animal bones are compared with the bones of animals found today and categorised accordingly.

At present the excavation is carried out on two sites. The first being the one Mellaart is working on and the other is carried out on the far side of the hoyuk (hill). Mellaart's excavation as yet has not reached the bottom layers. The aim, currently, is to remove and save the top layers in order to reach the final layers as Mellaart's site is rapidly collapsing.

The more recent excavation site has yielded interesting objects which symbolise the Catal Hoyuk region and still carry important traditional value in Anatolia. In one of the houses the pedestal of a statue of a mother goddess was found. It is interesting to note that the skull of an animal was found on the ground facing the pedestal. In the same area in another house a painting has been recently unearthed. The pieces found will be covered for the time being and research will continue in the new year, using better methods of analysis. Currently, the Hoyuk's most interesting section is about two to three hundred metres away from the excavation site. At the moment the surface area has been cleaned and will be excavated at a later date. What has created the interest in this area is the assertion of Dr. Ian Hodder. He claims that the houses currently being excavated display a different settlement plan. Apparently the houses' walls are not necessarily parallel to one another and the houses are built in the shape of a cake slice, facing a central building which may have been a monument or some other important building. Until recently it was estimated that Catal Hoyuk's Neolithic city did not have such a structure. It is an assertion that only the full excavation will yield.

To support and provide financial assistance for the excavations, the Catal Hoyuk Friends Association has been formed. The Catal Hoyuk excavation and other similar archaeological projects require the aid of official and private organisations in order to continue to shed light on the past.


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