Wow, so Catalhoyuk was the first city made in the world. Strange that they would build a city without streets? Nacogdoches is the first city of Texas and Catalhoyuk probably wasn’t any filthier.
To go anywhere they had to walk across the roofs. That wouldn’t work in the United States, people get mad if you walk across their yard. And especially not in Texas, you can get shot for honking your horn. No telling what people might do if you come running across their roof.
Catalhoyuk (7400 B.C.) came after Neanderthal Man (200,000 to 35,001 BC.), but probably before You made Adam and Eve? No one knows exactly when that was, but it’s assumed to be around 4004 B.C. Abraham’s city, Ur, was created in or around 3800 B.C.
The thing is, I don’t know if they worshipped You, but they were smart enough to know they didn’t get there on their own. They didn’t have the ridiculous idea like “The Big Bang.”
People today just aren’t that smart, Jesus had to come down here for “show and tell” and still, people just don’t get it, but I was one of those idiots.
Anyway, when the people of Catalhoyuk worshipped their god (s), did they do it on top of their roofs or did they have…
Ezekiel 5 Ezekiel Acts out the Diaspora of Judah
1 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.
“Take thee a knife” – what Isaiah had expressed in a metaphor (Is 7:20) Ezekiel acted out in prophetic symbolism.
2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.
3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.
4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.
6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you;
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.
9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.
10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.
“Fathers shall eat the sons” – cannibalism, the most gruesome extremity of life under siege, was threatened as a consequence of breaking the covenant (Deut 28:5; see Jer 19:9; Lam 2:20; Zech 11:9).
11 Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.
12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.
14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.
15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it.
16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread:
17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.
The Lost City of Catalhoyuk
Location: Central Turkey
Date of Construction: c. 7400 B.C.
Abandoned: c. 6000 B.C.
Built By: Neolithic Hunter-Gatherer Farmers
Key Features: No Streets – Continuous buildings with roof access; sub-floor burials; interior decoration, murals and figurines.
Described by its original excavator as the earliest city in the world, Catalhoyuk is a Neolithic settlement of almost unprecedented size, with many remarkable features – from its close-packed layout to the wealthy of art and symbolism that adorns its walls.
In the Konya Basin area of Anatolia, in central Turkey, two mounds rise above the semi-arid plain, separated by the course of the now extinct Carsamba River. This is the site of Catalhoyuk, Turkish for “fork-mount”, named for a path that forked when it reached the base of the larger mound, Catalhoyuk East.
In the Neolithic Era, from 7400-6000 B.C., this was a settlement of up to 8,000 people living in 2,000 houses, covering over 30 acres. Although not the first Neolithic settlement – settlements at sites such as Jericho date back to 9000 B.C. – it was one of the larges and significantly, was outside the Levantine area previously thought to be the core of advanced Neolithic civilization.
It also proved to be one of the most remarkable prehistoric settlements, thanks to the unusual features uncovered by the two principal digs to explore the site – the excavations of James Mellaart in the late 1950s and early 60s, and the ongoing excavations under Ian Hodder since the 1990s.
According to leading archaeologist Colin Renfrew, “Catalhoyuk is the dig of the new millennium.”
The Town with No Streets
The most striking feature of Catalhoyuk was that it had no streets. The houses were packed so close together that they effectively formed a single solid mass and access to each house and travel around the town was via the rooftops.
The buildings themselves were rectangular, 118-517 square feet in area and probably one-story high. They were constructed from mud bricks with wooden posts as roof supports, with flat roofs of wooden beams on top of which bundles of reed were laid and mud was packed on top.
Everything was covered with a lime-rich plaster, including internal features of the houses such as ovens, platforms and shelves. A small square opening in the south side of the roof led into the house via a wooden stairway of squared timber.
This gave access to the main room, where most of the domestic activity took place. Smaller rooms, thought to be often low-ceilinged and very narrow, led off the main room and were accessed by low doorways; they were probably used for storage. There were no windows or side-doors.
The oven or heart was situated beneath the ceiling opening to allow smoke to escape. Ash and debris scraped out of the oven made the floor area in this part of the room relatively dirty. It was separated from cleaner zones of the room by ridges in the floor or by raised platforms which might be used for sleeping or other purposes.
Some were covered with reed mats. In fine weather most activity probably took place on the town’s roofs, but during the bitterly cold winters families would have huddled in their snug houses.
Experiments with a modern replica of Catalhoyuk dwelling show that, while in fine weather sunlight through the roof opening would make the interiors, with their white plaster coatings, nice and bright, the ovens/hearths ventilated only poorly and during the night in the winter the houses must have been very gloomy and filled with smoke.
This is confirmed by the finding that the bodies of Catalhoyuk residents show deposits of soot along their ribs. This is soot that had accumulated in their lungs from lifetimes of exposure to smoke-filled interiors and that settled onto the ribs as the lung tissue decomposed after death.
The Ancestors Below
Another striking feature of Catalhoyuk was that its inhabitants buried their dead directly beneath their living room floors. The area around the hearth was used for burying babies – probably ones that died in childbirth – and also for storing caches of obsidian, with hollow spaces for pots or other small items.
Beneath the raised platforms, however, the bodies of older children and adults were buried, usually wrapped in reed mats or placed in baskets.
Some of the skeletons have been found disarticulated, leading to speculation that they may have originally been buried elsewhere or left out to be scavenged and decompose before burial, but current thinking is that in fact these burials have been disturbed by later ones.
Sometimes the deceased person’s head is missing – these people were probably important or especially revered ancestors, whose skulls might be remodeled with plaster and painted, and kept in the room or buried with someone else.
After a certain period of time – perhaps if a house became decrepit or enough people had been buried in it – the inhabitants would rebuild over the original on the same floor plan.
The existing building would be cut down to a height of around 3 feet and then carefully filled in. Ritual or talismanic objects were sometimes deliberately placed among the filling material. Then the new house would be raised on top of this foundation.
In this way the inhabitants of Catalhoyuk could live in close connection with their ancestors going back centuries, with the rising settlement mound – that reached up to 65 ½ feet above the surrounding plain with 18 levels of habitation – representing the physical embodiment of their group identity and socio-cultural values.
Leopards and Bulls
The third remarkable feature of Catalhoyuk is the extensive art and symbolism found in the form of its murals and figurines. The prehistoric residents covered their white plaster interiors with a variety of murals, including abstract patterns, such as circles, and colorful and exciting hunting scenes.
These include many scenes of men (their gender indicated by their ithyphallic appearance (shown with erect penises) and occasionally by a beard) hunting or sporting with wild animals such as aurochs (giant prehistoric bulls) and leopards. By contrast there are no depictions of farming.
Perhaps the most famous mural dates from c 6500 BC and appears to show a view of the town with the nearby twin-peaked volcano of Hasan Dagi in the background; if the interpretation is correct, the mural is the oldest map and/or landscape painting ever discovered.
Other interior decoration included horns of animals mounted on the walls and skulls of animals (and possibly ancestors), remodeled with clay and painted.
Other figurines have been recovered from beneath floors and in filled-in rooms. They come in a variety of forms, including animals, non-gender specific humans and, in the upper, later levels of occupation, voluptuous women. A famous example, found in a grain bin where it may have been placed to enhance or ensure fertility, is of a voluptuous woman seated on a chair or throne, flanked by a pair of leopards.
The discovery of examples such as the “leopard queen” prompted Mellaart to assume they were mother goddess figures, suggesting that the people of Catalhoyuk worshipped a dominant female deity and that they were a matriarchal, female-dominated society.
Hodder’s research has found little evidence for this, showing rather that there was a lot of equality in gender roles, with men and women equally likely to be represented in high-status burials, eating the same diets and sharing most roles around the house. The one exception is that hunting was probably a male activity and was celebrated in the art of Catalhoyuk while agriculture – probably a female-dominated occupation – was not.
Life in Catalhoyuk
The people of Catalhoyuk had Stone Age technology. They used obsidian (volcanic glass) to make a variety sharp and functional tools, and also used pottery, weaving and other skills. They had basic agriculture, which became more important to them over the lifetime of the town, and supplemented their diet with hunting the gathering of wild foods.
The area around Catalhoyuk was marshy, providing good water resources and fish and game, as well as the mud and reeds they used for construction.
Each building probably housed a family of between five and ten people, and in fine weather most of their ; activities would have taken place on the town roofs. Men and women probably shared tasks such as pottery and obsidian tool making, which together with agriculture were the main industries of the town, giving them products they could trade for timber from the nearby hills, for the raw obsidian from Cappadocia about 90 miles away.
And even for goods from much further afield, such as baskets from Mesopotamia and shells from the Red Sea. Rubbish from each household, including fecal matter, was simply dumped into the spaces around and between buildings, so that they became effectively embedded in a giant pile.
Ash from the fires and ovens helped to sterilize this waste, but even so there must have been considerable stench and vermin issues.
Today the mound of Catalhoyuk shows two peaks, suggesting that in prehistoric times the town actually consisted of two slightly separate built-up areas. This is consistent with an endogamous culture – one where people marry only within the group, tribe or in this case, settlement.
Many such societies are actually split into two sub-groups or tribes, which intermarry (to prevent incestuous marriage), and this may be what is indicated by the twin peaks of the mound. The lack of evidence of any contemporary settlements in the area further suggests that kinship and marriage were heavily localized.
Ian Hodder questions whether Catalhoyuk can be seen as a city in the proper sense of the word, because its layout and the uniformity of the buildings indicate that there were few or no public spaces or buildings, no central focus, such as a palace or temple, and no evidence of a social hierarchy or specialization of employment.
It seems that each household was responsible for and to itself and there is no sign that they formed a township for defensive reasons. The exact reason why they did gather at Catalhoyuk remains a mystery, as do the causes of the town’s abandonment in around 6000 B.C.
A smaller settlement to the west of the main site was briefly occupied from about 6000-5700 B.C. Did the inhabitants of Catalhoyuk proper simply move, and if so, why?
ilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.
…High Places like the Israelites did?