A surprise visit to Çatalhöyük

Goddess figure Çatalhöyük

Goddess figure Çatalhöyük

In an earlier post, we wrote about the neolithic site Çatalhöyük and the beautiful mountain Hasan Dag. I was fascinated with the neolithic archeological site because of its significant finds and the contested interpretations between two key archeologists Mellaat and Hodder

Mellart after his initial excavations 1958 had concluded that the society at Çatalhöyük had a matriarchal religion, based on the many Goddess figurines. Hodder later disputed this, arguing in 2005 that there many different types of figurines. He states:

We’ve now started working there since the mid 1990s and come up with very different ideas about the site. One of the most obvious examples of that is that Çatalhöyük is perhaps best known for the idea of the mother goddess. But our work more recently has tended to show that in fact there is very little evidence of a mother goddess and very little evidence of some sort of female-based matriarchy. That’s just one of the many myths that the modern scientific work is undermining. (O’Brien, Jeremy New techniques undermine ‘mother goddess’ role in the community Irish Times September 20, 2009)

Anyway, back to the story of our adventure in Cappadocia and Anatolia.

We rented a car with the intent of staying in the Cappadocia region. While we were visiting the stunning Ihlara Valley we looked on the map and saw Çatalhöyük. It was located on the map close to Konya, which did not seem a long way. Also, from what we remembered Konya seemed a pretty small town. So we were up for an Anatolian spur of the moment adventure.

When we got on the highway we realised Konya was almost 200kms away but we figured it wasn’t that far to go to visit such an amazing place.

After several hours of Marty driving into the afternoon sun we drove into Konya. We quickly noticed this was a city of 1.3 million people, not the sleepy town we remembered. The roads were pretty tricky, lanes converging with no indication from other drivers most of the time. Donkeys with loads of lemons or grapes in the middle of an urban environment with the main roads as vectors leading to other key urban centres.

Marty was a champion driving through the evening traffic. We did a couple of loops almost to suburbia and decided to stop at the first sign of a hotel. After quite a while of driving around we found this very ritzy looking place with lots of sparkling lights cascading from the first floor balcony.

Like many of the hotels in Turkey the entrance had lots of marble – it is dug out of the ground in Turkey and in abundance. We were a bit concerned about the cost but rationised that we hadn’t burnt the plastic too much. Anyway, for the princely sum of 170 lira (about 85AUD) we had an awesome room on the first floor (not really my ideal but very clean and comfortable, with WiFi) and breakfast included.

After cross referencing several maps and google we were very happy to find that we were on the right road, in the right direction to Çatalhöyük, with the exception of one roundabout.

When we arrived at Çatalhöyük, we were a bit surprised that we were the only people there with the exception of the guardian of the site. Çatalhöyük is only excavated in the northern summer months of June and July.

The excavation site at CatakHoyuk

The excavation site at Çatalhöyük

It was incredible to visit this site and really special that we had it almost to ourselves. On our next trip to Turkey we hope that we can perhaps do some volunteering at this amazing place. Check out the Çatalhöyük website.

See more of our pics on flickr.

The excavation site at CatakHoyuk

The excavation site at Çatalhöyük