Welcome back! It’s time for another exciting episode of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, so get ready for our 11th episode “Volcano Cheetahs!”
This was a fun glimpse into the world of ancient man. Ever see that movie 10,000B.C.? Well I did, and although this tale doesn’t involve an insanely beautiful blue eyed cave girls with rockin dreds running away from scary prehistoric mega-birds, it does involve the first inklings of organized cultural practices and belief systems in the desert sands of exotic Anatolia! (But seriously, I was really excited for that movie and really what the hell was that? Did no one think about picking up a book about prehistory…like, at all?)
Our news story this week focused on new evidence that a wall mural drawn in the 7th Millenium B.C. by the residents of the famed Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük might actually represent a volcanic eruption from nearby Mount Hasan Dagi. Making it the first map or geographic depiction ever made! I know, pretty crazy stuff right? I’ll admit, this article was a bit science-y, but I hope I made up for it with a brilliant commentary and an in depth look at life at Çatalhöyük for the first generations of settled human beings in the region. And since the transition from hunter-gatherer tribes to settled agriculturalists was pretty much the biggest thing to ever happen to human beings in…well, ever, I thought I’d investigate another site that represents a group of people on the cusp of changing their ways forever- the fantastic Göbekli Tepe temple site in Southeastern Turkey.
(Pictures of Çatalhöyük and the Volcano/Cheetah mural © Maricio Abreu/JAI/Corbis and the Çatalhöyük research project)
The Göbekli Tepians weren’t an actual settled cultural group believe it or not, they were a conglomeration of hunter-gatherer groups that organized and built a massive temple complex believed to have been used for death rituals by people for hundreds of miles. No one lived there, but not unlike Grecian mountain temples, all who traveled to the spot were welcome to worship and perform rituals there. This complex provided ancient humans between around 11,000-8000 b.c. with a gathering space and a platform to experiment with working together to create monumental architecture and shared spiritual and ritualistic practices. This was indeed, one small step for man, one… you know.
(Photographs of Göbekli Tepe courtesy of Vincent J. Musi for National Geographic and N. Becker, DAI)