Circle of the Green » History and Research » Çatalhöyük Excavations

The Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük was first discovered in the late 1950s and excavated by James Mellaart in 4 excavation seasons between 1961 and 1965. The site rapidly became famous internationally due to the large size and dense occupation of the settlement, as well as the spectacular wall paintings and other art that was uncovered inside the houses.

As well as wall painting and wall reliefs, many objects of daily life were uncovered. Some were decorative such as exceptional flint 'daggers' with decorative bone handles (right) and clay or stone figurines (left), depicting human figures and animals. Other utilitarian objects include obsidian, flint, pottery, worked bone and clay balls. Another distinguishing feature of Çatalhöyük was the nature of the houses: they had no doors to the outside and were clearly entered through ladders from the roof, and the inhabitants buried their dead under the floors of their platforms.

Since 1993 an international team of archaeologists, led by Professor Ian Hodder, has been carrying out new research at Çatalhöyük. After first seasons of surface survey, the excavations in the North and South Areas began in 1995. In 1996 and 1997, the Summit Area was excavated by a team from Thessaloniki University. In 1997, the BACH Area excavations were opened by a team from Berkeley University. The excavations in the North Area between 1995 and 1998 revealed two buildings, building 1 on top of building 5. Building 5 is now on permanent display, therefore no more excavation is possible in that area. The large scale excavations in the South Area begun in 1995 were suspended after 1999 to allow time for publication, but plans are to return to this area as soon as possible. After preliminary work in the SP and TP Area in 2000, a Team from Poznan University began excavating the TP Area in 2001 and has so far uncovered traces a Late Roman/early Byzantine house, and a Byzantine cemetery. The years 1996, 1997 and 1999 also saw excavations of the Kopal Trenches / Areas, where locations on the slope of the East Mound as well as next to the mound were examined to find out about neolithic activities at the edge of the site. Since 1999 Excavations on the West Mound have also taken place.

© The Çatalhöyük Research Project

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