catal hoyuk

sometimes i start thinking about ‘deep time’ and i get almost vertiginous.

not even geologic time-scales! or cosmic time-scales! just human time-scales!

but there is more time between the rise of agriculture/people in catal hoyuk and the pyramids than there is between the pyramids and now

there is more time between the domestication of the dog and catal hoyuk than there is between the founding of that settlement and now

there is more time between the first anatomically modern humans and the domestication of the wolf than there is between dogs and now

those people who lived 5000, 12,000, 40,000, 120,000 years ago (and even well before) they were people, with inner lives and hopes and fears and dreams and if you took one of them as an infant and plopped them into 2016 society they’d grow up tech-savvy and fluent in fucking internet memes because biologically/mentally they’re identical to current people

the overwhelming majority of human history- just talking about h. sapiens sapiens here for the sake of argument though pre-sapiens homonids were likely also ‘people’ in very real and significant ways -we all lived and died in small bands, told stories, cooperated, fought, muddled along

then some clever asshole(s) figured out ‘hey the place where we keep throwing those waste seeds sure is growing a whole lot of edible plants. HMMMM’ and things started changing.

and that was EIGHT THOUSAND YEARS BEFORE ANYONE EVEN THOUGHT UP CUNEIFORM

WHICH IS ALMOST SIX THOUSAND YEARS OLD

like, okay, i can wrap my head around ‘humanity is a blip on the earth’s time scale’. An even smaller blip on the cosmic scale. But to a mere mortal shmuck, humanity itself, the tiniest most insignificant blip on the cosmic radar, is vast

fucking agriculture is at best a tenth of human history. cities? More like a twentieth

just… whoa

[Picture: Background — a six piece pie style colour split, alternating purple and green. Foreground — a picture of a fox. Top text: “Man it’s hot at this site…” Bottom text: “But I hear at Çatal Höyük it’s Ian Hodder"]

Mod Note: A.) Quickmeme wouldn’t show the special characters, I know it's Çatal Höyük, not Catal Hoyuk and B.) credit for this joke goes to BeetleJuls on Reddit, or wherever they got it from.

I’d like to write about a fantasy city like Çatalhöyük.

“I want to build a house. Where the fuck shall I put my house? On top of another fucking house, that’s where.”

“I hear somebody invented roads. Fuck that bullshit. They’re wasting valuable house space. Look, there’s a house with houses on only five out of six possible sides. Imma add five fucking houses to compensate.”

This bit of prehistory always seemed quite dry when I originally half-heartedly studied it. I knew the Neolithic in Asia was pretty much the most important thing, I just didn’t care. Now I look at it again, it’s great.

MEET CATAL HOYUK. Its name contains more accents and special characters than can be contained by my puny American keyboard. Çatalhöyük. Just look at that name.

What Catal Hoyuk is, is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic settlements we’ve got, IE one of the first cities. More like a village, actually. And it was actually pretty big. You know all those things you’ve got on your house, like a doorway that touches the ground (doors at all), or windows? Catal Hoyuk doesn’t have that. What they did have was a ton of buildings that seem to have been built literally on top of each other. The entrance was a hole in the roof, and you could only get into the house by crawling up the sides of the buildings on ladders, then back down another ladder to the inside, but only after running over all the other roofs in the settlement-there was literally no space between them. The dwellings all shared walls, and instead of having roads between houses they used the roofs as a type of communal plaza. Or something. This was incredibly inconvenient for a few reasons, the main one being that the roofs were all at different heights, and many of them were sloped. Every builder in the place just found somewhere, and put up 4 new walls and a roof, even when they were building against existing walls.

When the buildings fell down or were renovated, they either knocked them down and built on the wreckage or literally built on top of the pre-felled buildings. Apparently, they’ve found about 8 layers of buildings in some places. You know what else they found under the floors? Bodies. When someone died, they wrapped them in a mat and burried them under the floor-mostly under the hearth and the beds. Sometimes they dug the bodies back up to remove the heads, and put the heads away somewhere else.  

Goodbye friends I am gone

Today I’m leaving for an archaeology project in Turkey! I will be working at Çatal Höyük, one of the largest early neolithic sites of Turkey, until august fifth. That’s right, for well over a month! Since I’ll be over there, my internet access will probably not be the best, and I won’t be on tumblr at all because it’s rather usage-heavy.

I’ve reduced my queue to once a day o there’ll be something every day at least (I’ve built up enough queue for that) and I’ll bookmark where I left off so I can read back anything I’ve missed.

Wishing everybody a great summer, and see you all in august!