Chatalhouk

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Flag of Turkey  , Konya,
Saturday, May 15, 2010

The drive to Chatalhoyuk, just outside of Konya, took us through the wide open prairies of the Anatolian Plateau... passing endless fields of wheat and various irrigated crops painting the landscape in shades of green.  After passing a summer village with a clustering of sleeping, cooking and eating tents for the families spending their summer working in the fields, we came upon a tiny ramshackled village... with a few twists and turns through the narrow dirt roads that had probably grown from the footpaths the locals had trodden over millennia, we came to a rundown gate entering into a gently rising hill bordered by a small wetland.  This nondescript place, being the site of the largest and best preserved neolithic settlement, dating from around 7500BC to 5700 BC.  This earliest site of human village habitation is scattered with the ruins left behind by the ancients that once lived in a cluster of homes amalgamated together... with entrances through holes in the roofs, accessed by ladders entering into the depths of the living spaces. The approximately 8000 people that inhabited the spaces kept the outer walls free of entrances... using the rooftops as roads.  Some archeologist believe that this wall like structure kept predators, scorpions, snakes and other creatures out of the mud plastered homes.

Archeologist continue to uncover various levels of settlement, currently numbering 18 layers of various habitation.   Some of the more interesting findings have been the human bodies that were buried within shallow circular pits within the middle of the homes... a form of ancestor worship.  Some of the bodies are headless... the severed skulls, with red ochre painted features have been found elsewhere... postulating some kind of ceremonial worship ritual.  My favorite are the early paintings/murals that covered some of the interior walls.... fascinating hunting scenes,death rituals and exotic animals that once inhabited this part of Turkey.  The people also practiced a worship of wild aurochs (wild cattle), with a multitude of horns that were mounted on their walls constantly being discovered.   A few years ago I had climbed the extinct volcano Hasan Dag, and while looking out over the plains toward the site of Chatalhoyuk... I thought about the what has become known as the World's oldest map or landscape painting... that of the Volcano erupting with flying embers and flows of lava.  

A few interesting scientific facts from various lab research of the people have found that unlike most societies that existed following this one, the social separation of the genders does not appear in the health of the bodies of the men and women. Studies of ancient human bones usually shows a record of this discrimination, with women's usually showing signs of malnutrition, with men's stronger and more advanced bone structure linked to their receiving of a higher nutritional diet... a sad fact that still exists in some societies today.  

This is also a site filled with the mother goddess figurines, with copious surpluses of voluptuous breasts resting on multitudinous rolls of belly hills... signs of great fertility.  Carsten and Aidan thought them to be disgusting and hideous... asking me if women could really look like that.  Well, in a world of increasing obesity... the answer is a simple yes...  Either way, many of the figures were found in old grain bins, leading to the belief that they were used as protective amulets that would keep the harvests of cereals, wheat and barley safe.   

This is also around the time of the domestication of sheep and cows... with pottery and the making of tools and weapons out of black volcanic obsidian emerged on the scene.  

The fascination of this site does not entail physically walking through the various ruins of grand marbled structures or marveling at intricately carved gold pendants... but is found in the depths of one's mental exploration as you realize that this is where our foremothers and fathers cultivated the beginnings of "society"... planting and tending to the seeds of what has grown into the communities that we exist within today...
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