Çatalhöyük: rituals & ancestors

Updated: Oct 1

As featured in Archaeology Worldwide #7

Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, arguably the earliest town in the world, was occupied from around 1700 BC- 5700. Its people lived through dramatically changing times, harnessing strong ancestorial ties and complex spiritual beliefs.


Composed entirely of domestic buildings. Its inhabitants never built large public buildings, ceremonial centres, or specialised production areas. Nor did they bury their dead in cemeteries. Every aspect of daily life unfolded in their houses, whether domestic or ritual. We know quite a lot about the inhabitants’ dwellings, for 166 houses have now been excavated.


Thus, the dead – often the young and elderly – were buried under the platforms, with storage rooms opening off the central chamber. In this image, the archaeologist is meticulously excavating human remains buried under a platforming one of the town’s dwellings.


To discover more, read Prof. Brian Fagan's feature on Çatalhöyük as published in the Summer 2022 issue (#7) of Archaeology Worldwide.

Image: Excavating human remains at Çatalhöyük.

Credit: Dr Colleen Morgan