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A tale of two tells: dating the Çatalhöyük West Mound

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  • David Clive Orton
  • Jana Anvari
  • Catriona Gibson
  • Jonathan Last
  • Amy Bogaard
  • Eva Rosenstock
  • Peter Biehl


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 6 Dec 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 27 Jun 2018
Issue number363
Pages (from-to)620-639
Early online date27/06/18
Original languageEnglish


The Anatolian Neolithic tell settlement of Çatalhöyük was investigated by James Mellaart in 1961–65, and by Ian Hodder and others from 1993 to 2017. Located on the Konya Plain, central Turkey, Çatalhöyük is famed for the densely-packed houses, under-floor burials, and rich symbolic tradition observed over much of the c.1200-year sequence on the intensively studied East Mound. Much less well known is Çatalhöyük’s West Mound, subject to smaller-scale excavations by Mellaart and more recently (1998–2013) by various teams. Situated c.200m from the East Mound (Figure 1), across a former course of the Çarşamba river, Çatalhöyük West has traditionally been viewed as a separate, Early Chalcolithic site with an occupation commencing in the early sixth millennium BC, after the abandonment of the East Mound—with or without an intervening hiatus. Here, we present 33 AMS dates that conclusively demonstrate overlap in occupation on the two mounds. We argue that Çatalhöyük East and West should be seen as a single settlement whose focus of occupation shifted gradually, probably over one or two centuries around the turn of the seventh to sixth millennia BC. The implications of this argument go beyond Çatalhöyük: firstly shedding new light on supra-regional models linking late seventh-millennium settlement disruption to rapid climate change; secondly unsettling the idea of prehistoric tell settlements as discrete, bounded entities.

Bibliographical note

© Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2018.

    Research areas

  • Neolithic, Chalcolithic, rapid climate change, radiocarbon, central Anatolia, tell settlements, Konya Plain

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