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A complete Neolithic town

Catal Huyuk, in Anatolia, is the best example of an early neolithic town where the transition to a fully settled existence has been satisfactorily achieved.

Food is produced by agriculture, with the cultivation of wheat and barley, and by the breeding of cattle. In addition to meat and milk, the cattle provide transport as beasts of burden. A surplus of food enables specialist crafts to develop. The community uses pottery and woven textiles. Only a fraction of the site has been excavated, but it is known to be in continuous occupation from about 6500 to 5700 BC. The population is calculated to number about 5000, living in 1000 houses.


Each house in Catal Huyuk has its own oven for the baking of bread. The walls and the floors of the houses are covered in plaster, renewed annually, and the walls in most houses are decorated with panels of red. Rush matting is used on the floors.

The furniture is built in (as at the much later neolithic settlement of Skara Brae in Scotland) with brick platforms for sitting on, working on and sleeping on. Under these platforms the bones of the dead are buried, to remain part of the family.


Many of the houses excavated in Catal Huyuk are shrines (so many that the small section of the site so far revealed is thought to be the religious quarter). Their walls are painted with a wide range of subjects. These include hunting scenes, a picture of vultures setting about human corpses, and even an elementary landscape.

As in many early societies, such as Minoan Crete, the bull is a sacred animal. Bulls' heads and horns project aggressively from the walls and altars of the temple chambers of Catal Huyuk. One of the murals suggests that a dangerous sport is practised here involving bulls, again as in Crete.


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