Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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Anatolia I



Eastern Anatolia


Belbaşı Culture


Early European Farmers (EEF)

Anatolian Neolithic Farmers

Anatolian Hunter-Gatherers

Aşıklı Höyük

Çatal höyük


The Bronze Age



Anatolia (from Greek: Anatolḗ, “east” or “[sun]rise”; Turkish: Anadolu), also known as Asia Minor (Medieval and Modern Greek: Mikrá Asía, “small Asia”; Turkish: Küçük Asya), Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is a large peninsula in West Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent.

It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the Balkan peninsula of Europe.

The eastern border of Anatolia is traditionally held to be a line between the Gulf of Alexandretta and the Black Sea, bounded by the Armenian Highland to the east and Mesopotamia to the southeast. Thus, traditionally Anatolia is the territory that comprises approximately the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey.

Today, Anatolia is also often considered to be synonymous with Asian Turkey, which comprises almost the entire country; its eastern and southeastern borders are widely taken to be Turkey’s eastern border. By some definitions, the Armenian Highlands lies beyond the boundary of the Anatolian plateau. The official name of this inland region is the Eastern Anatolia Region.

The English-language name Anatolia derives from the Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolḗ) meaning “the East” or more literally “sunrise” (comparable to the Latin-derived terms “levant” and “orient”). The precise reference of this term has varied over time, perhaps originally referring to the Aeolian, Ionian and Dorian colonies on the west coast of Asia Minor.

In the Byzantine Empire, the Anatolic Theme (“the Eastern theme”) was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey’s present-day Central Anatolia Region, centered around Iconium, but ruled from the city of Amorium.

The term “Anatolia”, with its -ia ending, is probably a Medieval Latin innovation. The modern Turkish form Anadolu derives directly from the Greek name Anatolḗ. The Russian male name Anatoly, the French Anatole and plain Anatol, all stemming from saints Anatolius of Laodicea (d. 283) and Anatolius of Constantinople (d. 458; the first Patriarch of Constantinople), share the same linguistic origin.

The oldest known reference to Anatolia – as “Land of the Hatti” – appears on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of the Akkadian Empire (2350–2150 BC). The first recorded name the Greeks used for the Anatolian peninsula, though not particularly popular at the time, was Asía, perhaps from an Akkadian expression for the “sunrise”, or possibly echoing the name of the Assuwa league in western Anatolia.

The Romans used it as the name of their province, comprising the ancient landscapes to the west of the peninsula plus the adhering islands of the Aegean. As the name “Asia” broadened its scope to apply to the vaster region east of the Mediterranean, some Greeks in Late Antiquity came to use the name Asia Minor (“Lesser Asia”) to refer to present-day Anatolia, whereas the administration of the Empire preferred the description as Anatolḗ (“the East”).

The endonym Rhōmanía (“the land of the Romans, i. e. the Eastern Roman Empire”) was understood as another name for the province by the invading Seljuq Turks, who founded a Sultanate of Rûm in 1077. Thus “(land of the) Rûm” became another name for Anatolia. By the 12th century Europeans had started referring to Anatolia as Turchia.

Eastern Anatolia

Traditionally, Anatolia is considered to extend in the east to an indefinite line running from the Gulf of Alexandretta to the Black Sea, coterminous with the Anatolian Plateau. This traditional geographical definition is used, for example, in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary.

Under this definition, Anatolia is bounded to the east by the Armenian Highlands, and the Euphrates before that river bends to the southeast to enter Mesopotamia. To the southeast, it is bounded by the ranges that separate it from the Orontes valley in Syria and the Mesopotamian plain.

Following the Armenian genocide, Ottoman Armenia was renamed “Eastern Anatolia” by the newly established Turkish government. Vazken Davidian terms the expanded use of “Anatolia” to apply to territory formerly referred to as Armenia an “ahistorical imposition”, and notes that a growing body of literature is uncomfortable with referring to the Ottoman East as “Eastern Anatolia”.

The highest mountain in “Eastern Anatolia” (on the Armenian Plateau) is Mount Ararat (5123 m). The Euphrates, Araxes, Karasu and Murat rivers connect the Armenian Plateau to the South Caucasus and the Upper Euphrates Valley. Along with the Çoruh, these rivers are the longest in “Eastern Anatolia”.

The Eastern Anatolia Region (Turkish: Doğu Anadolu Bölgesi) is a geographical region of Turkey. The region and the name “Doğu Anadolu Bölgesi” were defined at the First Geography Congress in 1941. It has the highest average altitude, largest geographical area, and lowest population density of all regions of Turkey.

During the era of the Ottoman Empire mapmakers outside the Empire referred to the mountainous plateau in eastern Anatolia as Armenia. Other contemporary sources called the same area Kurdistan.

Geographers have variously used the terms east Anatolian plateau and Armenian plateau to refer to the region, although the territory encompassed by each term largely overlaps with the other. According to archaeologist Lori Khatchadourian this difference in terminology “primarily result[s] from the shifting political fortunes and cultural trajectories of the region since the nineteenth century.”

Turkey’s First Geography Congress in 1941 created two regions to the east of the Gulf of Iskenderun-Black Sea line named the Eastern Anatolia Region and the Southeastern Anatolia Region, the former largely corresponding to the western part of the Armenian Highland, the latter to the northern part of the Mesopotamian plain.

According to Richard Hovannisian this changing of toponyms was “necessary to obscure all evidence” of Armenian presence as part of a campaign of genocide denial embarked upon by the newly established Turkish government and what Hovannisian calls its “foreign collaborators”.

Beginning in 1880, the name Armenia was forbidden to be used in official Ottoman documents, in an attempt to censor the history of Armenians in their own homeland. The government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II replaced the name Armenia with such terms as “Kurdistan” or “Anatolia”. The Sublime Porte believed there would be no Armenian Question if there was no Armenia.

The process of “nationalization” of toponyms was continued by the Kemalists, who were the ideological successors of the Young Turks, and gained momentum during the Republican period. Starting from 1923 the entire territory of Western Armenia was officially renamed “Eastern Anatolia” (literally The Eastern East).

The word Anatolia means “sunrise” or “east” in Greek. This name was given to the Asia Minor peninsula approximately in the 5th or 4th centuries B.C. During the Ottoman era, the term Anadolou included the north-eastern vilayets of Asia Minor with Kyotahia as its center. The numerous European, Ottoman, Armenian, Russian, Persian, Arabic and other primary sources did not confuse the term Armenia with Anatolia.

This testifies, inter alia, to the fact that even after the loss of its statehood the Armenian nation still constituted a majority in its homeland, which was recognized by Ottoman occupiers as well. Historically the Armenian Highlands have been situated to the east of Anatolia, with the border between them located near Sivas (Sebastia) and Kayseri (Caesarea). Therefore, it is incorrect to refer to Armenia as part of “Eastern Anatolia”.

In the 17th century, when the Armenian Question was not yet included into the international diplomacy agenda, the terms “Anatolia” or “Eastern Anatolia” were never used to indicate Armenia. Furthermore, the “Islamic World Map” of the 16th century and other Ottoman maps of the 18th and 19th centuries have clearly indicated Armenia (Ermenistan) on a specific territory as well as its cities.

Armenia, together with its boundaries, was unequivocally mentioned in the works of earlier Ottoman historians and chroniclers until the end of the 19th century. Kâtip Çelebi, a famous Ottoman chronicler of the 17th century, had a special chapter titled “About the Country Called Armenia” in his book Jihan Numa.

However, when this book was republished in 1957, its modern Turkish editor H. Selen changed this title into “Eastern Anatolia”. Osman Nuri, a historian of the second half of the 19th century, mentions Armenia repeatedly in his three-volume Abdul Hamid and the Period of His Reign. In the 1960s, the Swiss airline Swissair removed the nomenclature ‘plateau arménien’ from the maps provided by their planes at the request of the Turkish ambassador in Bern.


The prehistory of Anatolia stretches from the Paleolithic era through to the appearance of classical civilisation in the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Human habitation in Anatolia dates back to the Paleolithic. The 27,000 years old homo sapiens footprints of Kula and Karain Cave are samples for human existence in Anatolia, in this period. 

The history of Anatolia is generally regarded as being divided into three ages reflecting the dominant materials used for the making of domestic implements and weapons: Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The term Copper Age (Chalcolithic) is used to denote the period straddling the stone and Bronze Ages.

Evidence of paleolithic (prehistory 500,000–10,000 BC) habitation include the Yarimburgaz Cave (Istanbul), Karain Cave (Antalya), and the Okuzini, Beldibi and Belbasi, Kumbucagi and Kadiini caves in adjacent areas. Examples of paleolithic humans can be found in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Ankara), in the Archaeological Museum in Antalya, and in other Turkish institutions.

Evidence of fruit and of animal bones has been found at Yarimburgaz. The caves of the Mediterranean region contain murals. Original claims (1975) of 250,000-year-old, Middle Pleistocene, Homo sapiens footprints at Kula and Karain Caves are now considered erroneous and have been revised to the Late Pleistocene era. In 2014 a stone tool was found in the Gediz River that was dated with certainty to 1.2 million years ago. 

The earliest representations of culture in Anatolia can be found in several archaeological sites located in the central and eastern part of the region. Stone Age artifacts such as animal bones and food fossils were found at Burdur (north of Antalya).

The history of Anatolia (Asia Minor) can be roughly subdivided into prehistory, Ancient Near East (Bronze Age and Early Iron Age), Classical Anatolia, Hellenistic Anatolia, Byzantine Anatolia, the age of the Crusades followed by the gradual Seljuk/Ottoman conquest in the 1300 to 1400, Ottoman Anatolia (1400 to 1900) and the modern history of the Republic of Turkey.

Remains of a mesolithic culture in Anatolia can be found along the Mediterranean coast and also in Thrace and the western Black Sea area. Mesolithic remains have been located in the same caves as the paleolithic artefacts and drawings. Additional findings come from the Sarklimagara cave in Gaziantep, the Baradiz cave (Burdur), as well as the cemeteries and open air settlements at Sogut Tarlasi, Biris (Bozova) and Urfa.

Because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been the center of several civilizations since prehistoric times. Neolithic settlements include Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori, Aşıklı Höyük, Boncuklu Höyük Hacilar, Göbekli Tepe, Norsuntepe, Kosk, and Mersin.

Çatalhöyük (Central Turkey) is considered the most advanced of these, and Çayönü in the east the oldest (c. 7250–6750 BC). We have a good idea of the town layout at Çayönü, based on a central square with buildings constructed of stone and mud.

Archeological finds include farming tools that suggest both crops and animal husbandry as well as domestication of the dog. Religion is represented by figurines of Cybele, a mother goddess. Hacilar (Western Turkey) followed Çayönü, and has been dated to 7040 BC.

Neolithic Anatolia has been proposed as the homeland of the Indo-European language family, although a later origin in the steppes north of the Black Sea, the steppe theory, also known as the Kurgan hypothesis, is favoured among academians.

The Anatolian hypothesis, first developed by British archaeologist Colin Renfrew in 1987, proposes that the dispersal of Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in Neolithic Anatolia. However, it is clear that the Anatolian languages, the earliest attested branch of Indo-European, have been spoken in Anatolia since at least the 1900 BC.

Straddling the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the Chalcolithic era (c. 5500–3000 BC) is defined by the first metal implements made with copper. This age is represented in Anatolia by sites at Hacilar, Beycesultan, Canhasan, Mersin Yumuktepe, Elazig Tepecik, Malatya Degirmentepe, Norsuntepe, and Istanbul Fikirtepe.

Belbaşı Culture

Belbaşı culture is a term sometimes used in a wider sense to describe the prehistoric culture and to cover the entire sequence constituted by half a dozen caves southwest of Antalya, encompassing, in this sense, also the Neolithic sites at, from south to north, Çarkin, Öküzlü and Karain Cave caves.

It is also being used to include also the succeeding Mesolithic/proto-Neolithic culture of Beldibi Cave, a cave and a late Paleolithic/Mesolithic site, located nearby, at only a few kilometers distance to the north.

Other sources may start the sequence at Beldibi, thus referring to a Beldibi culture, or treat each cave individually. Such a sequence from late Paleolithic to Neolithic in such closely located sites is unknown elsewhere.

Since the proto-Neolithic of Beldibi being a development from the Mesolithic of Belbaşı is only a possibility, although a strong one, sources differ in their choice of terms for the cultures concerned. The lithic assemblage of both cultures were based upon microliths.

Beldibi culture further offers colored rock engravings on the walls of the cave, hitherto the only known cave art in Western Asia, as well as furniture art decorated with naturalistic forms and geometric ornament. Its phases contained imported obsidian, presumably from eastern Taurus Mountains or from the north of the River Gediz, and early forms of pottery.

Bones of deer, ibex and cattle occur, and subsistence was likely assisted by coastal fishing from the very close Mediterranean Sea and by the gathering of wild grain. There is as yet no evidence of food production or herding. Belbaşı culture tool kit includes tangled arrowheads, triangular points and obliquely truncated blades.

Belbaşı culture shows indications of an early connection to the Kebaran industry assemblages of Palestine. Their settlements were stable, typical of Natufian culture sites in this respect, and many later evolved into agricultural villages, similar to Jericho’s forerunner Tell es-Sultan, settled around 7,800 years BCE.

Their most lasting effect was felt not in the Near East, where they seem to have left no permanent mark on the cultural development of Anatolia after 5,000 years BCE, but in Europe, for it was to this new continent that the neolithic cultures of Anatolia introduced the first beginnings of agriculture and stock breeding.

Karain Cave is a Paleolithic archaeological site located at Yağca Village 27 km (17 mi) northwest of Antalya city in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. It is a complex of caves that consists of three main chambers and corridors, separated by calcite walls, narrow curves and passageways. Halls and galleries contain speleothems.

The prehistoric site is situated 430 m (1,410 ft) above sea level and about 80 m (260 ft) above the eastern slope of Sam Dağı Mountain (Mount Katran), where the western Taurus Mountains calcareous zone borders on the Travertine Plain.

Researchers documented the continuity of human presence in the cave for a period of more than 25,000 years, from the Mesolithic, through the Neolithic and the Chalcolithic, to the Bronze Age. It is assumed that during the time of Greek colonization of Asia Minor (Iron Age), the cave had a religious function, as Greek inscriptions and decorations suggest, that are carved into the rock in front of the entrance.

Paleolithic and Neolithic flint blades, scrapers and arrowheads, some made in Levallois technique were discovered. In the subsequent layers lithic figurines and bone sculptures have been found, that suggest relations to the nearby Hacılar culture.

The attention of researchers was especially drawn to the carving of a human face, stylistically similar to the products of the Natufian culture which flourished in the Levant during the Mesolithic period. This discovery may corroborate a commercial relationship of the population of Southern Asia Minor and Palestine.

Remains of a Mesolithic culture in Anatolia can be found along the Mediterranean coast and also in Thrace and the western Black Sea area. Mesolithic remains have been located in the same caves as the paleolithic artefacts and drawings.

Additional findings come from the Sarklimagara cave in Gaziantep, the Baradiz cave (Burdur), as well as the cemeteries and open air settlements at Sogut Tarlasi, Biris (Bozova) and Urfa. Neolithic settlements include Çatal höyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori, Aşıklı Höyük, Boncuklu Höyük, Hacilar, Göbekli Tepe, Norsuntepe, Kosk, and Mersin.

Çatal höyük (Central Turkey) is considered the most advanced of these, and Çayönü in the east the oldest (c. 7250–6750 BC). We have a good idea of the town layout at Çayönü, based on a central square with buildings constructed of stone and mud.

Archeological finds include farming tools that suggest both crops and animal husbandry as well as domestication of the dog. Religion is represented by figurines of Cybele, a mother goddess. Hacilar (Western Turkey) followed Çayönü, and has been dated to 7040 BC.

Straddling the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the Chalcolithic era (c. 5500–3000 BC) is defined by the first metal implements made with copper. This age is represented in Anatolia by sites at Hacilar, Beycesultan, Canhasan, Mersin Yumuktepe, Elazig Tepecik, Malatya Degirmentepe, Norsuntepe, and Istanbul Fikirtep.

The Bronze Age (c. 3300–1200 BC) is characterised by the use of copper and its tin alloy, bronze, for manufacturing implements. Asia Minor was one of the first areas to develop bronze making. Because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been the center of several civilizations since prehistoric times.


Belbaşı is a cave/rock shelter and a late Paleolithic/Mesolithic site in southern Turkey, located southwest of Antalya. Belbaşı culture tool kit includes tanged arrowheads, triangular points and obliquely truncated blades.

Belbaşı culture is a term sometimes used to describe the prehistoric culture whose clearly identifiable traces in the site were explored in the 1960s, as well as being sometimes used to include also the succeeding Mesolithic/proto-Neolithic culture of Beldibi Cave nearby, at only a few kilometers distance to the north; or, in a wider sense, to cover the entire sequence constituted by half a dozen caves west of Antalya, encompassing, in this sense, also the Neolithic sites at, from south to north, Çarkin, Öküzlü and Karain caves.

Other sources may start the sequence at Beldibi, thus referring to a Beldibi culture, or treat each cave individually. Such a sequence from late Paleolithic to Neolithic in such closely located sites is unknown elsewhere.

Beldibi culture further offers coloured rock engravings on the walls of the cave, hitherto the only known cave art in western Asia, as well as furniture art decorated with naturalistic forms and geometric ornament. Its phases contained imported obsidian, presumably from eastern Taurus Mountains or from the north of the River Gediz, and early forms of pottery. Bones of deer, ibex and cattle occur, and subsistence was likely assisted by coastal fishing from the very close Mediterranean Sea and by the gathering of wild grain. There is as yet no evidence of food production or herding.

Belbaşı culture shows indications of an early connection to the Kebaran industry assemblages of Palestine. Their settlements were stable, typical of Natufian culture sites in this respect, and many later evolved into agricultural villages, similar to Jericho’s forerunner Tell es-Sultan, settled around 7800 BC.

Since the proto-Neolithic of Beldibi being a development from the Mesolithic of Belbaşı is only a possibility, although a strong one, sources differ in their choice of terms for the cultures concerned. The lithic assemblage of both cultures were based upon microliths.

Their most lasting effect was felt not in the Near East, where they seem to have left no permanent mark on the cultural development of Anatolia after 5000 BC, but in Europe, for it was to this new continent that the neolithic cultures of Anatolia introduced the first beginnings of agriculture and stockbreeding.

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceives as a relatively homogeneous and widespread pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in Europe, particularly in Malta and the Balkans.

In her major work, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: 6500–3500 B.C. (1982), she refers to these Neolithic cultures as Old Europe. Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to migrations of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze age (the Kurgan hypothesis). For this reason, Gimbutas and her associates regard the terms Neolithic Europe, Old Europe, and Pre-Indo-European as synonymous.


The Neolithic transition in west Eurasia occurred in two main steps: the gradual development of sedentism and plant cultivation in the Near East and the subsequent spread of Neolithic cultures into the Aegean and across Europe after 7000 cal BCE.

Farming was developed approximately 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, a region that includes present-day Iraq, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan as well as the fringes of southern Anatolia and western Iran.

By about 8,300 BCE it had spread to central Anatolia, in present-day Turkey. These early Anatolian farmers subsequently migrated throughout Europe, bringing this new subsistence strategy and their genes. Today, the single largest component of the ancestry of modern-day Europeans comes from these Anatolian farmers.

It has long been debated, however, whether farming was brought to Anatolia similarly by a group of migrating farmers from the Fertile Crescent, or whether the local hunter-gatherers of Anatolia adopted farming practices from their neighbors.

A new study by an international team of scientists led by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and in collaboration with scientists from the United Kingdom, Turkey and Israel, published in Nature Communications.

It confirms existing archaeological evidence that shows that Anatolian hunter-gatherers did indeed adopt farming themselves, and the later Anatolian farmers were direct descendants of a gene-pool that remained relatively stable for over 7,000 years.

For this study, the researchers newly analyzed ancient DNA from 8 individuals, and succeeded in recovering for the first time whole-genome data from a 15,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer.

This allowed the team to compare that individual’s DNA to later Anatolian farmers, as well as individuals from neighboring regions, to determine how they were related. They also compared the individuals newly analyzed in the study to existing data from 587 ancient individuals and 254 present-day populations.

The researchers found that the early Anatolian farmers derived the vast majority of their ancestry (~90%) from a population related to the Anatolian hunter-gatherer in the study. This suggests a long-term genetic stability in central Anatolia over five millennia, despite changes in climate and subsistence strategy.

The results provide additional, genetic support for previous archaeological evidence that suggests that Anatolia was not merely a stepping stone in a movement of early farmers from the Fertile Crescent into Europe. Rather, it was a place where local hunter-gatherers adopted ideas, plants and technology that led to agricultural subsistence.

Even before contemplating the beginning of the Neolithic way of life in the Marmara Region, it should not be overlooked that Neolithic elements began appearing in Northwestern Turkey three to four thousand years later then they did in the core area of primary neolithization in regions much further to the East.

Keeping this in mind is of impor-tance not only for understanding the process of neolithization in the Marmara Region, but more specifically for what lies further to the west — the Balkans and eventually the rest of Continental Europe.

This large time-gap has inevitably evoked alternative explanations, such as the Neolithic way of life emerging and developing in the Balkans independent of the Neolithic of the East. This, also known as the “autochthonous model of neolithization”, and which had emerged as a reaction to the Childean diffusionist approach, after becoming pop-ular during the last quarter of the previous century, has since been almost forgotten.

Nevertheless, for the sake of clarity here we consider noting that all of what is seen with the Early Neolithic cultures of Northwestern Anatolia appears fully developed, without pred-ecessors in the region, but all of which is previously known from the core areas in the East.

When Proto-Neolithic and Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures were developing in the core area, what was in the Marmara Region is not clear at all; sites revealing lithic assemblagesthat can with some certainty be considered Mesolithic are known from certain parts of the Marmara Region.

Among them, there is a concentration of sites along the coastal areas of the Black Sea, mainly located on fossil sand dunes, that have been denominated as the Ağaçlı culture characterized by micro blades, prismatic andcylindrical double-platformed blade cores, backed bladelets, and some geometric microlithsanalogous to the so-called “Epi-Gravette” or Eastern Gravette tradition of the Pontic Basin.

In spite of all the missing links in our knowledge, there is now ample evidence sufficient to draw a general picture on the process of neolithization in Northwestern Anatolia. It has been almost conventional to consider the process of neolithization as an instantaneous event.

However, it is now evident that it took two thousand years after the initial appear-ance of Neolithic elements to the time it became fully established. It is also clear that it was a multifarious happening, taking place step-by-step and developing along differenttrajectories.

During these two thousand years, there had been multiple incidents of endemic movements, each having its own particular pace and feature. Taking into consideration the complex nature of the neolithization process, it is obviously not possible to speak of a single “Neolithic package”.

The primary components of this package, such as pottery, rectangular buildings, domesticated animals, cultivated plants, ground and polished stonetechnologies, certain types of lithic and bone artefacts, and sedentary village life have beenintroduced from outside, evidently from the East; these occur in every Neolithic package, thus easy to discern.

Besides these primary components, each movement had its particulars, making it possible to trace the region of their origin. Almost all components of the Neolithic packages that have reached Northwestern Anatolia have their ancestral forms somewhere in the east — in the core area of neolithization — though their ratios within the assemblages may change.

While some items proliferate, others become inconspicuous. There are apparently some practicessuch as red-painted floors that are sustained in the newly settled areas as remnants of social memory. However, what has been transmitted from the Mesolithic cultures that were already present in the Marmara Region is more difficult to recognize.

Moreover, it is also clear that different modes of neolithization existed simultaneously in different parts of the region. The neolithization process has been divided into different headings: Setting of the Stage: Implying the period immediately preceding the initial appearance of Neolithic elements, which is of course contemporary with the emergence of a Neolithic wayof life in the core areas of primary neolithization.

Initial Stage: The poorly-understood horizon implying the first arrival of Neolithic ele-ments/communities.The Monochrome Stage: Representing the time of clearly detectable establishment of set-tlements. Red-Slipped and Painted Stage: The time of intensified habitation, particularly in the west-ern parts of the region. Final Stage: Representing the final stage of the adaptation of a Neolithic way of life to the local environment.

Early European Farmers (EEF)

The earlier population of Europe was the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Later, the Early Anatolian Farmers (EAF) expanded from the Aegean and Near East and brought with the Neolithic package. Ancient European Neolithic farmers were genetically closest to modern Anatolian and Aegean populations.

Genetic studies since the 2010s have identified the genetic contribution of Neolithic farmers to modern European populations, providing quantitative results relevant to the long-standing “replacement model” vs. “demic diffusion” dispute in archaeology.

Neolithic Europe is the period when Neolithic technology was present in Europe, roughly between 7000 BCE (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) and c. 1700 BCE (the beginning of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia). The Neolithic overlaps the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe as cultural changes moved from the southeast to northwest at about 1 km/year – this is called the Neolithic Expansion.

The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place, its end marked by the introduction of bronze implements: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4,000 years (i.e. 7000 BCE–3000 BCE) while in parts of Northwest Europe it is just under 3,000 years (c. 4500 BCE–1700 BCE).

The spread of the Neolithic from the Near East Neolithic to Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of 14C age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available.

Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that, on average, the Neolithic spread at a constant speed of about 1 km/yr. More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level.

The origins of European farmers are equally well represented by Early Neolithic Greek and northwestern Anatolian genomes. Farming and sedentism first appeared in southwestern Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes.

There is a direct genetic link between Mediterranean and Central European early farmers and those of Greece and Anatolia, extending the European Neolithic migratory chain all the way back to southwestern Asia.

Paleogenetic studies of late hunter-gatherers (HG) and early farmers indicate a dominant role for migration in the transition to farming in central and northern Europe, with evidence of only limited hunter-gatherer admixture into early Neolithic populations, but increasing toward the late Neolithic.

Recent radiocarbon dating indicates that by 6,600–6,500 calibrated (cal) BCE sedentary farming communities were established in northwestern Anatolia at sites such as Barcın, Menteşe, and Aktopraklık C and in coastal western Anatolia at sites such as Çukuriçi and Ulucak, but did not expand north or west of the Aegean for another several hundred years.

All these sites show material culture affinities with the central and southwestern Anatolian Neolithic. Early Greek Neolithic sites, such as the Franchthi Cave in the Peloponnese, Knossos in Crete, and Mauropigi, Paliambela, and Revenia in northern Greece date to a similar period.

The distribution of obsidian from the Cycladic islands, as well as similarities in material culture, suggest extensive interactions since the Mesolithic and a coeval Neolithic on both sides of the Aegean. Although it has been argued that in situ Aegean Mesolithic hunter-gatherers played a major role in the “Neolithization” of Greece, the presence of domesticated forms of plants and animals indicates nonlocal Neolithic dispersals into the area.

Most of the modern Anatolian and Aegean populations do not appear to be the direct descendants of Neolithic peoples from the same region. Indeed, comparison of the Aegean genomes to modern groups indicates low affinity between the Anatolian Neolithic genomes and modern Turkish samples.

Furthermore, when we form each Anatolian Neolithic genome as a mixture of all modern groups, we infer no contributions from groups in southeastern Anatolia and the Levant, where the earliest Neolithic sites are found.

Similarly, comparison of allele sharing between ancient and modern genomes to those expected under population continuity indicates Neolithic-to-modern discontinuity in Greece and western Anatolia, unless ancestral populations were unrealistically small.

Instead, each Aegean Neolithic genome closely corresponds to modern Mediterraneans (>68% contributions from southern Europe) and in particular to Sardinians (>25%) with few substantial contributions from elsewhere.

Regardless of whether the Aegean early farmers ultimately descended from western or central Anatolian, or even Levantine hunter-gatherers, the differences between the ancient genomes presented here and those from the Caucasus indicate that there was considerable structuring of forager populations in southwestern Asia before the transition to farming.

The dissimilarity and lack of continuity of the Early Neolithic Aegean genomes to most modern Turkish and Levantine populations, in contrast to those of early central and southwestern European farmers and modern Mediterraneans, is best explained by subsequent gene flow into Anatolia from still unknown sources.

The Y-DNA of EEFs was typically types of haplogroup G2a, and to a lesser extent H, T, J, C1a2 and E1b1, while their mtDNA was diverse. During the Middle Neolithic there was a male-driven resurgence of WHG ancestry among the EEFs, leading to increasing frequencies of the paternal haplogroup I2 among them.

In various studies they are described as the Early European Farmers (EEF); Aegean Neolithic Farmers (ANF), First European Farmers (FEF), or also as the Early Neolithic Farmers (ENF), names given to a distinct ancestral component that represents descent from early Neolithic farmers of Europe.

Ancestors of EEFs are believed to have split of from WHGs around 43,000 BC, and to have split from CHGs around 23,000 BC. They appear to have migrated from Anatolia to Europe in large numbers during the Early Neolithic, during which they admixed slightly with WHGs. Large parts of Northern Europe and Eastern Europe do not appear to have been settled by EEFs.

There has been found evidence for miscegenation between WHG and EEF throughout Europe, with the largest contribution of EEF in Mediterranean Europe (especially in Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and among Ashkenazi Jews), and the largest contribution of WHG in Northern Europe and among Basque people. Nevertheless, when the Neolithic farmers arrived in Britain, DNA studies show that these two groups did not seem to mix much. Instead, there was a substantial population replacement.

Paleogenetic studies of late hunter-gatherers (HG) and early farmers indicate a dominant role for migration in the transition to farming in central and northern Europe, with evidence of only limited hunter-gatherer admixture into early Neolithic populations, but increasing toward the late Neolithic.

Mixing between migrating farmers and local hunter-gatherers occurred sporadically at low levels throughout the continent even in the earliest stages of the Neolithic. However, a substantial increase in hunter-gatherer ancestry transitioning into the Middle Neolithic across Europe, whereas Late Neolithic farmers also demonstrate a considerable input of ancestry from steppe populations.

Since 2014, further studies have refined the picture of interbreeding between EEF and WHG. In a 2017 analysis of 180 ancient DNA datasets of the Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods from Hungary, Germany and Spain, evidence was found of a prolonged period of interbreeding.

Admixture took place regionally, from local hunter-gatherer populations, so that populations from the three regions (Germany, Iberia and Hungary) were genetically distinguishable at all stages of the Neolithic period, with a gradually increasing ratio of WHG ancestry of farming populations over time.

This suggests that after the initial expansion of early farmers, there were no further long-range migrations substantial enough to homogenize the farming population and that farming and hunter-gatherer populations existed side by side for many centuries, with ongoing gradual admixture throughout the 5000 to 4000 BC (rather than a single admixture event on initial contact).

Admixture rates varied geographically; in the late Neolithic, WHG ancestry in farmers in Hungary was at around 10%, in Germany around 25% and in Iberia as high as 50%.

Hunters from the Pontic-Caspian steppe – as European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in general – possessed no domesticated animals before the arrival of stockbreeding, spread with Neolithic farmers from Anatolia after about 6100 BC, probably through different colonization routes through the Aegean that involved diverse Neolithisation processes.

The Neolithisation process involved significant socioeconomic and ecological transformations. Changes in food production, in natural resources management and in settlement patterns originated a new way in which humans and the environment interacted.

The intensive farming systems in use during the Early Neolithic, implying small-scale and labour-intensive cultivation resulted in a low impact of agriculture in off-site pollen records. Nevertheless, deforestation processes are well documented across Europe.  However, while economic practices changed, some cultural traits like funerary practices did not accompany the ‘Neolithic package’ acquired in the Balkans by local fisher-hunter-gatherers.

It seems that farmers and their domestic animals spread fast, in ca. 10 human generations, from sub-Mediterranean Macedonia to the northern limits of the temperate Balkan Peninsula and the adjacent Carpathian Plain, which may have put serious difficulties for the spread of cattle until selective pressure could drive genetically-driven adaptations to harsh environments.

It has been supported with human ancestry studies that Middle East farmers arrived into central and Western Europe with the Neolithic expansion. While a population related to north-western Anatolian Neolithic farmers spread westward into Europe, farmers related to those of the Levant spread southward into north-east Africa.

Ancient Middle Easterners show basal Eurasian ancestry with significantly less Neanderthal inheritance than East Asians, which suggests an affinity between Natufians and populations of north or sub-Saharan Africa. This is supported by the Y-DNA haplogroup E found in Levantine Neolithic populations.

Together with WHG and EHG, samples from Neolithic Levant and those from the Neolithic of western Iran form the four streams of ancestry seen in the Middle East. There is continuity of Natufians (Levantine hunter-gatherers) with Levantine farmers, and Caucasus hunter-gatherers with farmers from the Zagros Mountains (east Iran).

While farmers and hunter-gatherers lived in settlements in close proximity during the Neolithic, (in the Balkans, in western, central and northern Europe), there are signs of long periods with minimal admixture.

During the Middle Neolithic, a resurge of male-biased hunter-gatherer ancestry is seen in central Europe and Iberia, while persistent frontiers between hunter-gatherers and farmers are found in central and northern Europe.

This is coincident with the loess belt of the northern European plain, to the north of which early farming techniques were probably not suitable. It is likely that new climates and environments led to the eventual breakdown of demic diffusion, and the spread of Neolithic traits by cultural diffusion.

That resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry, with a ca. 4:1 WHG:EHG contribution, is found in the Balkan Neolithic in the territory of present-day Bulgaria, close to the Danube river. This suggests a heterogeneous landscape of farmer populations with different proportions of hunter-gatherer ancestry during the early Neolithic, probably due to pockets of hunter-gatherers surviving close to the coast and major rivers.

Anatolian Neolithic Farmers

An international team, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and in collaboration with scientists from the United Kingdom, Turkey and Israel, has analyzed 8 pre-historic individuals, including the first genome-wide data from a 15,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer, and found that the first Anatolian farmers were direct descendants of local hunter-gatherers.

These findings provide support for archaeological evidence that farming was adopted and developed by local hunter-gatherers who changed their subsistence strategy, rather than being introduced by a large movement of people from another area. Interestingly, while the study shows the long-term persistence of the Anatolian hunter-gatherer gene pool over 7,000 years, it also indicates a pattern of genetic interactions with neighboring groups.

Anatolian Hunter-Gatherers

Anatolian hunter-gatherers (AHG) were a human Epipaleolithic population that inhabited central Anatolia around 13,642-13,073 BCE. This population constitutes the main ancestral genetic contribution of the present-day Europeans.

The existence of this ancient population has been inferred through the genetic analysis of the remains of a male individual from the site of Pınarbaşı, in central Anatolia, which has been dated at 13,642-13,073 BC. This population is genetically differentiated from the rest of the known Pleistocene populations.

It has been discovered that populations of the Anatolian Neolithic derive a significant portion of their ancestry from the AHG, suggesting that agriculture was adopted in situ by these hunter-gatherers and not spread by demic diffusion into the region.

At the autosomal level, in the Principal component analysis (PCA) the analyzed AHG individual turns out to be close to two later Anatolian populations, the Anatolian Aceramic Farmers (AAF) dating from 8300-7800 BCE, and the Anatolian Ceramic Farmers (ACF) dating from 7000-6000 BCE.

These early Anatolian farmers later replaced the European hunter-gatherers populations in Europe to a large extent, ultimately becoming the main genetic contribution to current European populations, especially those of the Mediterranean. In addition, their position in this analysis is intermediate between Natufian farmers and Western hunter-gatherers (WHG).

This last point is confirmed by the admixture and qp-Adm analysis and confirms the presence of hunter-gatherers of both European and Near-Eastern origins in Central Anatolia in the late Pleistocene.

Regarding their genetic proximity to the WHG, it has been proven that this proximity is greater with the so-called Villabruna cluster, which lived in Europe 14,000 years ago, and in particular with the individual known as Iron Gates HG, from the Balkans.

The detailed study of these results suggests that this affinity is not due to a genetic flow from the AHG to the ancestors of the Villabruna cluster, but on the contrary: there was a genetic flow from the ancestors of the Villabruna cluster to the ancestors of the AHG.

The individual analyzed belongs to haplogroup C1a2 of the Y chromosome, which has been found in some of the early WHG’s. It has also been observed that this individual belongs to the mitocondrial haplogroup K2b. Both paternal and maternal lineages are rare in the current Eurasian populations.

Aşıklı Höyük

Aşıklı Höyük is a settlement mound located nearly 1 km south of Kızılkaya village on the bank of the Melendiz brook, and 25 kilometers southeast of Aksaray, Turkey. It is located in an area covered by the volcanic tuff of central Cappadocia, in Aksaray Province.

The archaeological site of Aşıklı Höyük was first settled in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, around 8,200 BC. It is known as one of the earliest Aceramic Neolithic sites on the Anatolian plateau, and the prior mentioned extraction of the obsidian source was likely to be frequented as far back as the Paleolithic nomadic hunter-gatherers.

It is situated 1119.5 metres above sea level, a little higher than the region’s average of c. 1000 metres. The site itself is about 4 ha, considerably smaller than the closely situated site of Çatalhöyük (13 ha). The surrounding landscape is formed by erosion of river valleys into tuff deposits.

The Melendiz Valley, where the Aşıklı Höyük is located, constitutes a favourable, fertile, and diverse habitat. The proximity to an obsidian source did become the base of a trade with the material supplying areas as far away as today’s Cyprus and Iraq.

Aşıklı Höyük was first investigated by Professor Ian A. Todd when he visited the site in the summer of 1964. Todd emphasised the importance of the obsidian in the area, based on over 6000 obsidian pieces collected from the surface layer alone.

The site was classified as a medium sized mound and partly destroyed by the river situated next to it. On the basis of the lithics and animal bones located in the surface layers the site became known as a contemporary to the Palestine PPNB, which later was reinforced by 14C dates (based on five unstratified radiocarbon dates going from 7008 ± 130 to 6661 ± 108).

The first comprehensive excavations took place relatively late: first when the government launched a plan that would result in the rise of the waters of the Mamasın Lake located close to Aşıklı Höyük. Nine excavations have been undertaken up to 2003, uncovering approximately 4200 m2 on the horizontal plain, making it one of the largest scale excavations in the region.

The newest dates for Aşıklı Höyük show that the occupational period was from 8200 to 7400 BC, extracted from 3 layers with a total of 13 phases; which places it in phase ECA II (correlating with the E/MPPNB in the Levant). Due to its date and structural organization Aşıklı Höyük is known to be “a prime example of a first foray into sedentism”.

After more than 400 rooms had been excavated, the total number of individual found to have been buried within the settlement did not surpass 70. All these burials were under building floors. The dead were placed in pits cut through the floor during the occupation of the building. The buried are people of both sexes and all ages.

There is a variety of skeletal body postures, from burials in a hocker (fetal) position to extended skeletons facing upwards. Others are lying on one side, occasionally with the legs bent at the knees. The orientation of the burials varies within the buildings, as does the number of individuals buried inside them.

The male population had individuals up to the age of 55–57 years of age, while the majority of females died between the ages of 20 and 25. The skeletal remains of these women show spinal deformities indicating that they had to carry heavy loads.

This does not itself prove that there was a division of labour between the sexes. The fact that the men seem to have outlived the women might be interpreted as sign that the women were subject to more strenuous physical labour than their male counterparts.

From Natufian Abu Hureyra there are similar osteological signs, such as pathologies in metatarsals, phalanges, arm, and shoulder joints, being specific to females resulting from habitual kneeling in the use of saddle querns.

The Neolithic evidence show indications of increased physical workload in the osteological material on both genders, where the male skeletons show signs of joint disease and trauma arguably caused by cutting timber and tilling.

The oven in HG indicates that this was indeed “special individuals of an elite class”, claiming it can be compared to the “Terrazzo” Building at Çayönü and the “Temple” Building at Nevalı Çori and therefore have been a shrine used for religious ceremonies. Many of the burials contain burial goods consisting of necklaces and bracelets made of beads of various sorts.

There has not been found a cemetery or any other sign of where the rest of the population might have been disposed of post mortem. This issue is not only limited to Aşıklı Höyük: there is also a lack of cemeteries on the PPNB “mega-sites” in the Levant, such ‘Ain Ghazal in the Jordan Valley.

It seems that in Aşıklı Höyük, as in the rest of the Anatolian and Levantine area, the burial and any other post mortem treatment was arguably an “upper class” phenomenon. This interpretation has been opposed, referring to the diversity of individuals in both sex and age in the graves. The burials including such a wide range of individuals do not directly coherent with the image of an “upper class” phenomenon.

The lack of change over time suggests that the inhabitants of Aşıklı Höyük had a view of the past as a precedent for the present: a vital part of society that was ‘reborn’ in each reproduction, manifested in its building continuity.

The structural reconstruction is a regional feature for Central Anatolia. With the exception of Jericho, most of the evidence from PPNB sites in the Levant indicates that structures were not reconstructed in the same loci, and some location structures differ in dates by several hundred years.

Çatal höyük

The best preserved early village so far uncovered is by far Çatalhöyük (from Turkish çatal “fork” + höyük “tumulus”). The large 32-acre site, first occupied shortly before 6000 BC., contains some of the most advanced features of Neolithic culture: pottery, woven textiles, mud brick houses, shrines honoring a mother goddess, and plastered walls decorated with murals and carved reliefs.

Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic proto-city settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7100 BC to 5700 BC, and flourished around 7000 BC. Great technological developments are observed in the working of obsidian and flint used for making tools in Catalhoyuk, which was an urban settlement center and where there is also proof of foreign trade with neighboring countries.

It is generally thought that because of their earlier role as gatherers of wild foods women were responsible for the invention of agriculture. As long as the ground was prepared by hoeing, rather than by plowing, women remained the cultivators. They also invented and performed the making of pots from clay, and the spinning and weaving of textiles from cultivated flax and animal wool.

Excavations have revealed this section of Anatolia as a centre of advanced culture in the Neolithic period. Excavation revealed 18 successive layers of buildings signifying various stages of the settlement and eras of history. The bottom layer of buildings can be dated as early as 7100 BC while the top layer is of 5600 BC.

Çatalhöyük is located overlooking the Konya Plain, southeast of the present-day city of Konya (ancient Iconium) in Turkey, approximately 140 km (87 mi) from the twin-coned volcano of Mount Hasan. The eastern settlement forms a mound which would have risen about 20 m (66 ft) above the plain at the time of the latest Neolithic occupation.

There is also a smaller settlement mound to the west and a Byzantine settlement a few hundred meters to the east. The prehistoric mound settlements were abandoned before the Bronze Age. A channel of the Çarşamba River once flowed between the two mounds, and the settlement was built on alluvial clay which may have been favorable for early agriculture.

The population of the eastern mound has been estimated to be, at maximum, 10,000 people, but the population likely varied over the community’s history. An average population of between 5,000 and 7,000 is a reasonable estimate.

As a part of ritual life, the people of Çatalhöyük buried their dead within the village. Human remains have been found in pits beneath the floors and, especially, beneath hearths, the platforms within the main rooms, and under beds.

Bodies were tightly flexed before burial and were often placed in baskets or wound and wrapped in reed mats. Disarticulated bones in some graves suggest that bodies may have been exposed in the open air for a time before the bones were gathered and buried.

In some cases, graves were disturbed, and the individual’s head removed from the skeleton. These heads may have been used in rituals, as some were found in other areas of the community. In a woman’s grave spinning whorls were recovered and in a man’s grave, stone axes.

Some skulls were plastered and painted with ochre to recreate faces, a custom more characteristic of Neolithic sites in Syria and at Neolithic Jericho than at sites closer by. Other sites where plastered skulls were excavated include Ain Ghazal and Amman, Jordan, and Tell Ramad, Syria. The skulls denote some of the earliest sculptural examples of portraiture in the history of art.

Plastered human skulls are reconstructed human skulls that were made in the ancient Levant between 9,000 and 6,000 BC in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period. They represent some of the oldest forms of art in the Middle East and demonstrate that the prehistoric population took great care in burying their ancestors below their homes.

The plastered skulls represent some of the earliest forms of burial practices in the southern Levant. Some scholars believe that this burial practice represents an early form of ancestor worship, where the plastered skulls were used to commemorate and respect family ancestors.

Vivid murals and figurines are found throughout the settlement, on interior and exterior walls. Distinctive clay figurines of women, notably the Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük, have been found in the upper levels of the site.

Although no identifiable temples have been found, the graves, murals, and figurines suggest that the people of Çatalhöyük had a religion rich in symbols. Rooms with concentrations of these items may have been shrines or public meeting areas.

Predominant images include men with erect phalluses, hunting scenes, red images of the now extinct aurochs (wild cattle) and stags, and vultures swooping down on headless figures. Relief figures are carved on walls, such as of lionesses facing one another.

Heads of animals, especially of cattle, were mounted on walls. A painting of the village, with the twin mountain peaks of Hasan Dağ in the background, is frequently cited as the world’s oldest map, and the first landscape painting.

However, some archaeologists question this interpretation. Stephanie Meece, for example, argues that it is more likely a painting of a leopard skin instead of a volcano, and a decorative geometric design instead of a map.

A striking feature of Çatalhöyük are its female figurines. Mellaart, the original excavator, argued that these well-formed, carefully made figurines, carved and molded from marble, blue and brown limestone, schist, calcite, basalt, alabaster, and clay, represented a female deity. Although a male deity existed as well, “statues of a female deity far outnumber those of the male deity, who moreover, does not appear to be represented at all after Level VI”.

To date, eighteen levels have been identified. These artfully-hewn figurines were found primarily in areas Mellaart believed to be shrines. The stately goddess seated on a throne flanked by two lionesses (illustration) was found in a grain bin, which Mellaart suggests might have been a means of ensuring the harvest or protecting the food supply. In later cultures, similar depictions are seen of Cybele, a mountain goddess.

Whereas Mellaart excavated nearly two hundred buildings in four seasons, the current excavator, Ian Hodder, spent an entire season excavating one building alone. Hodder and his team, in 2004 and 2005, began to believe that the patterns suggested by Mellaart were false.

They found one similar figurine, but the vast majority did not imitate the Mother Goddess style that Mellaart suggested. Instead of a Mother Goddess culture, Hodder points out that the site gives little indication of a matriarchy or patriarchy.

There are full breasts on which the hands rest, and the stomach is extended in the central part. There is a hole in the top for the head which is missing. As one turns the figurine around one notices that the arms are very thin, and then on the back of the figurine one sees a depiction of either a skeleton or the bones of a very thin and depleted human. The ribs and vertebrae are clear, as are the scapulae and the main pelvic bones.

The figurine can be interpreted in a number of ways – as a woman turning into an ancestor, as a woman associated with death, or as death and life conjoined. It is possible that the lines around the body represent wrapping rather than ribs.

Whatever the specific interpretation, this is a unique piece that may force us to change our views of the nature of Çatalhöyük society and imagery. Perhaps the importance of female imagery was related to some special role of the female in relation to death as much as to the roles of mother and nurturer.

In an article in the Turkish Daily News, Hodder is reported as denying that Çatalhöyük was a matriarchal society and quoted as saying “When we look at what they eat and drink and at their social statues, we see that men and women had the same social status. There was a balance of power. Another example is the skulls found.

If one’s social status was of high importance in Çatalhöyük, the body and head were separated after death. The number of female and male skulls found during the excavations is almost equal.” In another article in the Hurriyet Daily News Hodder is reported to say “We have learned that men and women were equally approached”.

Professor Lynn Meskell explained that while the original excavations had found only 200 figures, the new excavations had uncovered 2,000 figurines of which most were animals, with less than 5% of the figurines women.

Estonian folklorist Uku Masing has suggested as early as in 1976, that Çatalhöyük was probably a hunting and gathering religion and the Mother Goddess figurine did not represent a female deity. He implied that perhaps a longer period of time was needed in order to develop symbols for agricultural rites.

Çatalhöyük has strong evidence of an egalitarian society, as no houses with distinctive features (belonging to royalty or religious hierarchy, for example) have been found so far.

The most recent investigations also reveal little social distinction based on gender, with men and women receiving equivalent nutrition and seeming to have equal social status, as typically found in Paleolithic cultures. Children observed domestic areas. They learned how to perform rituals and how to build or repair houses by watching the adults make statues, beads and other objects.

Çatalhöyük’s spatial layout may be due to the close kin relations exhibited amongst the people. It can be seen, in the layout, that the people were “divided into two groups who lived on opposite sides of the town, separated by a gully.”

Furthermore, because no nearby towns were found from which marriage partners could be drawn, “this spatial separation must have marked two intermarrying kinship groups.” This would help explain how a settlement so early on would become so large.

In upper levels of the site, it becomes apparent that the people of Çatalhöyük were gaining skills in agriculture and the domestication of animals. Female figurines have been found within bins used for storage of cereals, such as wheat and barley, and the figurines are presumed to be of a deity protecting the grain.

Peas were also grown, and almonds, pistachios, and fruit were harvested from trees in the surrounding hills. Sheep were domesticated and evidence suggests the beginning of cattle domestication as well. However, hunting continued to be a major source of food for the community.

Pottery and obsidian tools appear to have been major industries; obsidian tools were probably both used and also traded for items such as Mediterranean sea shells and flint from Syria.

There is also evidence that the settlement was the first place in the world to mine and smelt metal in the form of lead. Noting the lack of hierarchy and economic inequality, historian Murray Bookchin has argued that Çatalhöyük was an early example of anarcho-communism.

Conversely, a 2014 paper argues that the picture of Çatalhöyük is more complex and that while there seemed to have been an egalitarian distribution of cooking tools and some stone tools, unbroken quern-stones and storage units were more unevenly distributed, indicating social inequality.

Private property existed but shared tools also existed. It was also suggested that Çatalhöyük was slowly becoming less egalitarian, with greater inter-generational wealth transmission, though there may have been efforts to try to stop this.


Hacilar is an early human settlement in Central Anatolia, 25 km southwest of present day city of Burdur. It has been dated back 7040 BC at its earliest stage of development. Up to 11 stratigraphic levels have been identified.

Archaeological remains indicate that the site was abandoned and reoccupied on more than one occasion in its history. The oldest strata belong to aceramic Neolithic, and are dated to the 8th millennium BC.

There is evidence there of agriculture dating back to 7000 BC. Archaeologists have found considerable amounts of wheat, barley and lentils in the houses at Hacilar, giving clues to people’s diet and the history of domesticated foods.

Catalhoyuk and Hacilar are also considered two of the earliest clay pottery centers. The existence of pottery is one very important indirect benefits of the sedentary lifestyle created by the ability to produce food year-round and even amass surpluses. Assured of their ability to eat, and able to feed more than just the people who produced food, these stone-age city dwellers had the opportunity and time invent and create.

To the 6th millennium BC, nine levels are assigned, the oldest with ceramics, that were almost entirely undecorated. Ceramics from Hacilar show similarities with those of the Halaf culture from about the same period. There are also similarities in their figurines.

Level VI is dating back to 5600 BC, and there were many activities at this time. Nine buildings were found, grouped around a square. Livelihood mainly consisted of agriculture. Spelt, wheat, barley, peas and vetch were cultivated. Villagers engaged in the breeding of animals; bones of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs were found. The pottery is simple, although some specimens represent animals. Numerous nude female figures, made of clay, are quite remarkable, and possibly represent some divinity.

At level II (c. 5300 BC), the village was fortified and had a small temple. The settlement of level I, dating after 5000 BC, differs significantly from the previous layers, so it is believed that there were newcomers who settled here. The site is now heavily fortified. The pottery is of high quality and is generally painted in red on a cream background.

Housing in Hacilar consisted of grouped units surrounding an inner courtyard. Each dwelling was built on a foundation of stone to protect against water damage. Walls were made of wood and daub or mud-brick that was mortared with lime. Wooden poles were located within each unit to support a flat roof. It is generally believed that these houses had an upper story made of wood.

The interiors were finished smooth with plaster and were rarely painted. Over time changes were made to the housing units; Querns, braziers and mortars appeared in the floors. Recesses in walls were also put to good use as cupboards. The kitchen was separated from the living rooms and the upper levels were used for granaries and/or workshops.

As Mellaart describes: ‘The walls and floors were carefully plastered, laid on a pebble base. The plaster was frequently stained red and burnished or decorated with elementary geometric designs in red on cream.’ In Hacilar houses no doorways were found. It seems possible that the entry was from the roof only.

The Bronze Age

The Bronze Age (c. 3300–1200 BC) is characterised by the use of copper and its tin alloy, bronze, for manufacturing implements. Although the origins of some of the earliest peoples are shrouded in mystery, the remnants of Bronze Age civilizations, such as the Hattians, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and the Hittites, provide us with many examples of the daily lives of its citizens and their trade.

Asia Minor was one of the first areas to develop bronze making. Although the first habitation appears to have occurred as early as the 6th millennium BC during the Chalcolithic period, functioning settlements trading with each other occurred during the 3rd millennium BC.

A settlement on a high ridge would become known as Büyükkaya, and later as the city of Hattush, the center of this civilization. Later, still, it would become the Hittite stronghold of Hattusha and is now Boğazköy.

Remnants of the Hattian civilization have been found both under the lower city of Hattusha and in the higher areas of Büyükkaya and Büyükkale, Another settlement was established at Yarikkaya, about 2 km to the northeast.

The discovery of mineral deposits in this part of Anatolia allowed Anatolians to develop metallurgy, such as the implements found in the royal graves at Alaca Höyük, about 25 km from Boğazköy, which it preceded, dating from 2400–2200 BC.

Other Hattian centers include Hassum, Kanesh, Purushanda, and Zalwar. During this time the Hattians engaged in trade with city states such as those of Sumer, which needed timber products from the Amanus mountains.

Anatolia had remained in the prehistoric period until it entered the sphere of influence of the Akkadian Empire in the 24th century BC under Sargon I, particularly in eastern Anatolia. However the Akkadian Empire suffered problematic climate changes in Mesopotamia, as well as a reduction in available manpower that affected trade. This led to its fall around 2150 BC at the hands of the Gutians.

The interest of the Akkadians in the region as far as it is known was for exporting various materials for manufacturing. Bronze metallurgy had spread to Anatolia from the Transcaucasian Kura-Araxes culture in the late 4th millennium BC. While Anatolia was well endowed with copper ores, there was no evidence of substantial workings of the tin required to make bronze in Bronze-Age Anatolia.

At the origins of written history, the Anatolian plains inside the area ringed by the Kızılırmak River were occupied by the first defined civilization in Anatolia, a non-Indo-European indigenous people named the Hattians (c. 2500 BC – c. 2000 BC). During the middle Bronze Age, the Hattian civilization, including its capital of Hattush, continued to expand. The Anatolian middle Bronze Age influenced the early Minoan culture of Crete (3400 to 2200 BC) as evidenced by archaeological findings at Knossos.

The Hattians came into contact with Assyrians traders from Assur in Mesopotamia such as at Kanesh (Nesha) near modern Kültepe who provided them with the tin needed to make bronze. These trading posts or Karums (Akkadian for Port), have lent their name to a period, the Karum Period.

The Karums, or Assyrian trading colonies, persisted in Anatolia until Hammurabi conquered Assyria and it fell under Babylonian domination in 1756 BC. These Karums represented separate residential areas where the traders lived, protected by the Hattites, and paying taxes in return. Meanwhile, the fortifications of Hattush were strengthened with construction of royal residences on Büyükkale.

After the Assyrians overthrew their Gutians neighbours (c. 2050 BC) they claimed the local resources, notably silver, for themselves. However the Assyrians brought writing to Anatolia, a necessary tool for trading and business.

These transactions were recorded in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets. Records found at Kanesh use an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines. The records also indicate the names of the cities where the transaction occurred.

By this time, bronze metallurgy spread to Anatolia from the Transcaucasian Kura-Araxes culture in the late 4th millennium BCE. Anatolia remained fully in the prehistoric period until it entered the sphere of influence of the Akkadian Empire in the 2400 BCE under Sargon I. The interest of Akkad in the region as far as it is known was for exporting various materials for manufacturing.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia stem from the southeast of the region and are from the Mesopotamian-based Akkadian Empire during the reign of Sargon of Akkad in the 2400 BC. Scholars generally believe the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians.

The Hattians spoke a language of unclear affiliation, and the Hurrian language belongs to a small family called Hurro-Urartian, all these languages now being extinct; relationships with indigenous languages of the Caucasus have been proposed but are not generally accepted. The region was famous for exporting raw materials, and areas of Hattian- and Hurrian-populated southeast Anatolia were colonised by the Akkadians.

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire in the mid-2100 BC, the Assyrians, who were the northern branch of the Akkadian people, colonised parts of the region between the 2100 and mid-1800 BC and claimed its resources, notably silver. One of the numerous cuneiform records dated circa 2000 BC, found in Anatolia at the Assyrian colony of Kanesh, uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.

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