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The archaeology at Çatalhöyük provides a rich record of the minutiae of the daily life of this early farming community which also produced exceptional architecture and art for the period, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.

This article presents an overview of the site and the work undertaken to date, weaving in the story of the two project directors and their connetion with the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

1: The Directors of Çatalhöyük, James Mellaart (1961-65) and Ian Hodder (since 1993), both of whom started their archaeological careers at the Institute of Archaeology (photo: Jason Quinlan).

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Sometimes coloured pigment of blue, red or green is found held in a shell container, often together with a small bone spatula. Simon Hillson, includes dental analysis that reflects diet (photo: Jason Quinlan).

A few skeletons have even been found with their skulls removed which can be linked to the skull cult that was widespread in Anatolia and the Levant in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic periods. The site is, however, possibly best known for its concentration of art in the form of wall paintings, relief sculpture and elaborate installations embellished with animal parts – the most dominant of which are wild auroch bucrania and horncores, set in the sides of benches and pedestals.

The archaeological site of Neolithic Çatalhöyük, on the Anatolian plain in Central Turkey, has been attracting attention since its initial excavation in the 1960s, directed by James Mellaart.

Excavation was restarted in 1993, with a new Research Project, directed by Ian Hodder.

Numerous scientific techniques and analytical tools are utilised within a robust excavation and sampling framework.

In addition, Hodder invited diverse groups of multi-disciplinary scholars to enrich and enhance the archaeological interpretations from different perspectives.Millennia of erosion had scoured clean the outlines of mudbrick houses, with plastered internal walls, whilst scattered artefacts indicated that the site was wholly Neolithic in date.At the time however, Mellaart was conducting excavations at the Chalcolithic site of Hacilar – and so his excitement of having identified Neolithic Çatalhöyük was not to be fulfilled until 1961, when he began excavations.The first campaign in 1993 comprised only a small team, but this included the first intake from the Institute of Archaeology which has continued to this day.Many of the research topics have been developed and led by Institute staff and student involvement has produced Masters dissertations, as well as Ph D programmes.Indeed, it was generally accepted that there was no evidence of the Neolithic in Anatolia due to the cold climate conditions.[2] Mellaart's excavations were therefore to shift the boundaries of the Neolithic profile westwards, including the identification of crop cultivation and of domesticated sheep, goat and cattle, but the site rapidly became famous for its large size and dense occupation of closely packed, mudbrick houses, interspersed with open areas where refuse accumulated through daily activities (Fig. These houses were razed and rebuilt in more than thirteen construction phases, eventually creating the 20m high mound of today, covering an area of over 32 acres and representing over 1,400 years of continuous Neolithic occupation, dating to 7400–6000 cal BC. 2: A group of local visitors being given a tour of a neighbourhood of densely clustered, mudbrick houses on the northern sector of the site, on Community Open Day (photo Jason Quinlan).

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