Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia (book #66)

James Mellaart, 1967.

Now that Sam has sorted out my library membership (yay Sam!) I have a handful of random books to read. Or use to hold down books I am making, but this one I have read.

I heard a lecture by Ian Hodder about Çatalhöyük in 1998 or 1999. I’d never heard of the site and was pretty baffled by most of the lecture, but fascinated by the theory Hodder was developing about the idea of “habitus” and how the site demonstrates the development of a distinction between the inside and the outside (the house and the “natural” or “wild”), which now itself seems “natural” to us. It’s quite possible I’ve got wrong what he was saying, but this is what I took away from the session.

Here’s Çatalhöyük on Wikipedia. Much of what Mellaart writes about has been re-imagined since. He did seem pretty dodgy at times to me I have to say – see the picture below and the text about how it “evidently” shows spring.

I like “the use of red paint on panels, posts, niches, doorways [etc] … has no structural significance and its use must therefore be regarded as ritual”. It would be a dull world if we only had “structural” or “ritual” features, with nothing in between.

There’s a very full Çatalhöyük official excavation site. The most recent report is interesting, especially about efforts to involve local people in planning for and interpretation of the site.

Later – this presentation (not by Hodder) must have been written about the time I heard Hodder speak.


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