26 August 2009

Çatalhöyük


I recently found the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History at a used bookshop in town. Very exciting. It's one of TWTM's recommended grammar stage (elementary) history books. I, having never taken a world history class, decided to go through it and see what I can see. I started on page 109 - before that is mostly about evolution. I already wrote about evolution; I skipped that part. We'll likely skip it when Monkey's in elementary school too. But about page 109 things start to get interesting.

First, there's Jericho. Joshua's Jericho. It seems that they lived in igloo-looking homes and buried their dead under their homes. But even more interesting than Jericho is this place in Turkey called Çatalhöyük.

This being an internet-linked encyclopedia, it linked to a page with a pronunciation for that big word: Çatalhöyük. It sounds surprisingly normal, for as strange as it looks to me. They also had a helpful map, showing where in the world Çatalhöyük is located. Very nice. The website also has some more information:


Archaeologists are excavating the remains of a Neolithic town. 9,000 years ago, this place was one of the world's largest settlements. At a time when most of the world's people were wandering hunter-gatherers, as many as 10,000 people lived at Çatalhöyük.

Çatalhöyük means 'forked mound' and refers to the site's east and west mounds, which formed as centuries of townspeople tore down and rebuilt the settlement's mud-brick houses.



Apparently, in Çatalhöyük they opted to use ladders rather than front doors. They climbed up on the outside, then entered the house through a ladder through the roof. So far, I haven't seen anything that offered any guesses as to why that might be the best way to get into the house. All I can think of is that it's much more defensible than a front door. You pull up the ladder and the house is a lot harder for bad guys or predators to get into. I imagine that they got very good at climbing those ladders!



One interesting thing about Çatalhöyük is the clay balls. They found them all over the place. Sounds like there were thousands of them, in three different types: Balloids, Mini-balls, and "weird-shaped." There's a lot of theories about what they might have been used for. Cooking, hunting, war, kids' toys. A woman names Sonya Atalay is studying them, but the page about her ideas has many more questions than answers.

When Çatalhöyük was discovered in the late 1950's, one of the reasons that it became famous was the murals the archeologists found. Those murals are still an object of iterest, and you can see pictures of some of them on that website the encyclopedia recommended.




The photographs are pictures from the actual dig site in Turkey, used with permission from their Flicker Photos. There's also this official website, done in cooperation with Cambridge, that you could look around.

7 comments:

Dorine said...

You find the most interesting stuff!!

Keeley said...

Wow! Fabulously interesting. Congratulations on your nifty book find. =)

misskate said...

Living in a hole.. probably cheaper/easier to dig rather than construct perhaps.. but I hope it didn't rain there much!

Ritsumei said...

It is interesting! I was more and more pleased the more that I looked around the kids' site my encyclopedia recommended. The actual Cambridge-official site was more disappointing because I felt like not only did I need to be an archeologist to understand it, but I'd have to have back-issues of half a dozen different journals to know what was going on. Their online for-the-public information was actually pretty disappointing. But their pictures on Flicker were amazing!

I am pretty stoked about the book. It was basically half price. I'm still looking for the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, but it's something that I can be patient about. I've started a history notebook for myself, so the Kingfisher or Story of the World would be really nice, but it's not the end of the world if I don't find it right away.

They were in Turkey, and one of the things they are protecting the site from is the dry climate, but I think the homes were built, not dug. Built one right on top of another, in layers. Six or more layers deep. Plus, when pioneers made those "dugout" homes that were basically holes in the side of the hill, they still had front doors. I'm only aware of a few places that go with the ladders rather than the doors. The only other one that I can think of is those cliff-dwelling Indians, I can't remember the tribe name. But I remember the cool houses, which I believe included ladders for access.

Jeannetta said...

Extremely cool!

Traveler For Good said...

Check out pictures of Cappadocia in Turkey as well, people live (still) in houses in the "tufa" rock and you usually climb a ladder to get in. Turkey also has lots of cave churches where Christians met in secret in the early days of the church. Absolutely amazing country!

Ritsumei said...

Very interesting! I may have to do that. I know almost nothing about Turkey, but maybe that needs to change.

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