CATAL HOYUK 95


The Catal Hoyuk region was established as an excavation site in the 1960s when archaeology was still not considered a "science". This situation has at least been altered today to include archaeology as a para-science. The use of scientific analysis techniques has contributed to the shift in thinking. In the 1960s, Catal Hoyuk's excavations were far removed from scientific methods. For example, archaeologists did not sift the soil, use phosphate analysis or conduct Carbon-14 dating methods. Basically, the excavations of this period were the process of quickly moving large amounts of soil from one area to another.

Despite the use of these methods, many works of art and statues have been dicovered. The Catal Hoyuk site gained international interest because it has yielded highly crafted artefacts and complex dwellings. Also it is the first established city to have employed the exchange of goods with distant regions. The first ornamented pottery, metal works and large animal grazing was undertaken here. There are other factors which have created international interest in Catal Hoyuk. Objects of art and the valued position of women have also contributed to this settlements' significance. There are many questions which have arisen from this settlement; Was this a matriarchal society? Were the paintings on the walls the source for the designs on kilims? If much earth was not excavated, as in the 1960s, perhaps so many wall paintings and other objects would not have been found. Mellaart's excavation is an important measurement for the answers to the many questions. It is only with the use of sophisticated technology that the questions that arise can be hoped to be answered.

In 1995, an international group began new excavations in the region while Mellaart found houses with ritual areas in them. The soil being at a level of 50 microns was carefully sifted. During this process, fish vertebae were found. It is understood that the platform on which the vertebrae were found was used to process the fish in some way. Micromorphological analysis has shown that animals were penned in this area for the collection of their droppings. Osteological tests on the remains of human skeletons suggests that the people of Catal Hoyuk were not great cereal eaters but relied mainly on meat and perhaps legumes.

When considered in the light of the technology used, such as, DNA tests on the skeletons, oil analysis and isotopic tests carried out on utensils found can we appreciate the level of commitment and importance given to the excavation. Perhaps the most important scientific step is the protection of the wall paintings. At the University of Pennsylvania, research is being conducted on methods of long term protection and storage of the wall paintings.

For scientific and safe-guarding analysis to continue, the European Union has partially funded the set up a laboratory near the excavation site. It is planned that the laboratory will be used by archaeologists fron Turkey and other Mediterranean countries; in particular by archaeometry specialists and also used for the purposes of education. The development of scientific research at Catal Hoyuk is anticipated to be a permanent feature in which archaeological questions can be examined with greater perspective.


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