Continuity and Change, Two Decades of Excavation and Research at Çatalhöyük

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Excavations at the Neolithic Anatolian tell of Çatalhöyük have spanned more than two decades and comprised multi-national teams of researchers, students, staff, and volunteers. The overarching aims of the project include a commitment to reflexive archaeological practice and to situate the site within its environmental, economic, and social context. These aims have remained largely unchanged, though many research questions, interpretations, practices, and technologies have transformed. This third and final phase of the Çatalhöyük Research Project (ÇRP) has focused on the multi-scalar synthesis of data collected from various specialist labs, as well as the archiving of the vast corpus of collected data. With the long-standing excavations coming to a close, we consider the current state of research and methodologies conducted at the site within the context of the changes and continuities that have occurred throughout the project’s lifespan. In particular, we highlight the unique set of challenges and opportunities that arise from working with large amounts of legacy data. Topics that may be explored include: challenges and opportunities inherent in working with large datasets, legacy data, and the nature of and potential for collaborative work.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • Changing Technologies, Changing Practices - The Transformation of the Çatalhöyük Research Database (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dominik Lukas. Claudia Engel.

    Since its beginnings, the Çatalhöyük project has stood out as an early adopter of latest innovations in information technology and digital recording solutions. Consequently, a considerable effort went into keeping the technology infrastructure on site up to date, incorporating new developments, and ensuring compatibility of applications. A core component of the Çatalhöyük technology infrastructure is a central database which hosts textual and numeric records of the excavation. Excavation and...

  • Excavation Narratives and Reflexive Practices at Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Burcu Tung.

    A microcosm in itself, The Çatalhöyük Research Project has, in one way or another, intellectually, emotionally and physically altered the lives of its members. The project ethos, in turn, has changed through time with the dynamics that surround research and managerial practices of the individuals making its body. Further the project has been part of a local landscape enduring sociopolitical changes within Turkey. As a member of the Çatalhöyük Research Project since 1997, in this paper, I reflect...

  • From Goddesses to Zoomorphs: Figuring Out Figurines at Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lindsay Der.

    The infamous seated goddess, flanked by two leopards, is perhaps the most sensationalized figurine to have been unearthed at Çatalhöyük, prompting narratives of prehistoric cults and religion. Yet research conducted since its discovery by James Mellaart has shown that zoomorphic, rather than anthropomorphic, types are predominant in the figurine assemblage. In this paper, I trace the history of changing recording systems, analytical methodologies, and interpretations of figurines at Çatalhöyük....

  • The Long Life of the Transient: investigating Painted plasters at Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gesualdo Busacca.

    During the two decades of the Çatalhöyük Research Project, painted plasters have been investigated using a wide array of methodologies and theoretical perspectives, spanning from contextual to experimental approaches, and from iconographic classification to archaeometric analyses. While the transient character of Çatalhöyük paintings has often been discussed, the longer life-cycles of entire plaster sequences have rarely been investigated. Using a mixed methodology that combines block sampling,...

  • More than a Source of Data: The Benefits of Active Collaboration between Macrofaunal and Specialist Analyses at Neolithic Ҫatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jesse Wolfhagen.

    The faunal remains excavated by the Ҫatalhöyük Research Project are notoriously voluminous, making them the focus of many specialist analyses over the course of the recent project. Stable isotopic data from zooarchaeological remains have long been used to inform paleoecology and past human dietary patterns. Zooarchaeological isotopic data have increasingly been used to revolutionize our understanding of past herding strategies, particularly in early herding contexts like Neolithic Ҫatalhöyük....

  • (Re)new(ed) Perspectives on Mortuary Practices at Neolithic Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Scott Haddow.

    At Çatalhöyük, as elsewhere in the Neolithic Near East, there is an emphasis on the manipulation and redistribution of human body parts, with particular attention paid to the skull. Evidence for this practice occurs with the observation of ‘headless’ primary burials and the secondary re-deposition of disarticulated crania and mandibles within primary and secondary burial contexts. The manner in which these practices were carried out and the motivations for such behaviour have been the subject of...

  • Re-contextualizing the Dead: A Geospatial Approach to Synthesizing Bioarchaeological Data at Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Barbara Betz. Jessica Pearson.

    Two decades of excavation at Çatalhöyük have produced a skeletal assemblage of approximately 555 individuals from primary, secondary, and primary-disturbed Neolithic (7100-6000 cal. BCE) deposition contexts. As personnel and digital technology have changed, integration of the large body of legacy bioarchaeological data with current research has posed many challenges. Often, analyses of osteological data patterns have relied on broad comparisons of temporal and spatial categories drawn from...

  • Reflexive Conservation Research at Çatalhöyük (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ashley Lingle.

    Çatalhöyük, like many earthen sites, is a complex exercise in preservation. Since it was first excavated in the 1960s there have been efforts to preserve the archaeological substrate. A significant part of this program was the application of aqueous polymer systems applied as a consolidant to the plaster and mud brick surfaces. This practice of attempting to strength walls by polymerization was reviewed by means of laboratory testing in the 1990s, and continued to some extent unchallenged for...

  • Trash Talk: (Re)evaluating External Spaces at Çatalhöyük, Turkey (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Justine Issavi.

    The Neolithic tell site of Çatalhöyük is composed of clusters of structures interspersed with open or external areas that contain extensive deposits of midden, as well as evidence for several other activities. James Mellaart (1967) initially identified these areas as courtyards while the current project has variously evaluated these spaces through frameworks of discard, food, and sharing practices. A general understanding of external spaces at Çatalhöyük sees them transformed from relatively...

  • Weaving the Fabric of Society at Çatalhöyük: A Socio-Material Network Approach to the Study of Early Agricultural Settled Life, Social Structure and Differentiation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Camilla Mazzucato.

    The end of the Çatalhöyük Research Project’s (ÇRP) 25-year mandate and the consequent generation of large and unique datasets produced by the collaboration of excavators and the specialists labs provide an extraordinary opportunity to investigate patterns of early agricultural settled life, social structure and differentiation at an intra-site level through a synthetic approach capable of weaving together different data threads. In this study, a relational framework rooted in models of...