Catal Huyuk Turkey
image by Wikimedia Commons.

Catal Huyuk-Turkey


What makes a place sacred?  For some places, ancient inhabitants defined sacredness through their proximity to geographical features.  For Catal Huyuk in Turkey, the very ancient people left artifacts and structures that we can now identify as some of the oldest examples of an agricultural Goddess worship in human history.  An extremely early example of human urbanisation in the Neolithic period about eight-thousand years ago, Catal Huyuk once was what we would call a bustling city.  The people living at this spot in southern Turkey led peaceful, agriculturally based lives.  Among specializing in farming, weaving, stone building, pottery, the locals did not organize themselves into class hierarchies, unlike nearly every major urban site in the world.

Catal Huyuk, Turkey

flickr image by mebooyou

By 6000, BCE the people began using copper and lead tools, although no weapons have ever been found in any of the archaeological mounds.  The absence of social stratification has been theorized to show that the Catal Huyuk society focused on their Goddess religion as a source of inspiration for many or all aspects of life.  Instead of a centralized shrine, available evidence shows that many temples devoted to the Goddess were used.  Some of the art that remains depicts bulls and other ornate decorations, likely representing cultural interaction between Turkey and the earliest Greek civilizations.  Images of the Goddess are drawn everywhere and not just in sacred areas.  Within individual people’s houses are small ovens where grain was burned as an offering to the Goddess.  Small statuettes of the Goddess can be found with her in various poses, such as giving birth, representing her widespread popularity and use in everyday life.

Travelers interested in spending time with the Goddess on an one-on-one basis can visit the Ankara museum where the best artifacts are on display.  Although there is not much remaining in terms of the actual site, visiting the place is mostly a cerebral experience where one may reflect on the role of the divine feminine personality in ancient and present society.  Tourists will inevitably learn from visiting Catal Huyuk that ancient people equally divided the divisions of labor in society between men and women, something that calls in to question common modern perceptions regarding gender roles.

Catal Huyuk, Turkey

flickr image by e_scott

Catal Huyuk is best experienced first with a guide who can accurately identify and explain important key locations and artifacts in the museum.  One lasting impression a visitor to this part of the world will unavoidably attain is the juxtaposition between the ancient society of Turkey and the present.  The old adage that through the study of history we can gain a better perspective on modern society is certainly true at Catal Huyuk.  Here in particular, spending time reflecting on the past can also better inform the present as to the potential of extreme social stratification, patriarchy, and the production of vast amounts of weapons.  As wondrous as Catal Huyuk is, the more than 18 levels of habitation that have been found by archaeologists are just beginning to be explored in-depth.  To be sure, remembering the significance of some of the earliest urbanised humans is something to keep an eye on in the future, as Catal Huyuk will only yield more and more works of sacred art.

Date posted: 31st December, 2013

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