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Conversations with original editors[edit]

The book by Michael Balter, The Goddess and the Bull, is the first full-length work about Catalhoyuk written for a general audience since 1967, and as such should be referenced with the article. It was published in January 2005. Whoever removed it is not acting in the spirit of Wikipedia, which invites contributors to add and improve content. Books that are relevant to the article, especially those that are highly relevant, are not "plugs."

I suppose this reference is now technically legit although it wasn't when you started inserting it in September 2004. You should be aware of Wikipedia's policy that references need to be verifiable. If you put it back in this article under a Further Reading heading, I will not remove it. However I do not think it is appropriate to be added to Ian Hodder, James Mellaart or Post processualism as you have been doing, as those topics are not covered in depth by this book, especially the last. adamsan 17:14, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I have no desire to do anything that is inconsistent with Wikipedia rules. However, when I first inserted this book, at a time very soon before its publication, someone else added the ISBN number for it, which I take as being verifiable. And unless you have read the book, how would you know that Mellaart, PP, and Ian Hodder are not treated in depth? In fact, they are. The first three chapters deal with Mellaart's dig at Catalhoyuk. This book includes the ONLY detailed biographies of Mellaart and Hodder in print, and the only detailed account of who was involved in the rise of PP and how they went about developing their ideas. As for proper formatting, I am not sure how to do this. In the interests of helping Wikipedia users, perhaps you can help me with this? I would also like to know whether you are an official Wikipedia person or simply another user. Your description says you are an archaeologist and smartarse. I can be reached at for further discussion of this, my name is Michael Balter, and I am not hiding behind an IP address--that is obviously my server that inserts this.

OK there are several points to be addressed here. Firstly, self-promotion is frowned upon in Wikipeda - see Wikipedia:Autobiography which covers not only vanity pages but also references to one's own works. As your book appears to have been well-reviewed on a couple of web sites I have found, it is sensible to allow this convention to slide in this case. Your references should follow standard bibliographic conventions however and are detailed at Wikipedia:Cite_sources. Describing your work as "a comprehensive study of X" does not conform to the Neutral Point of View that Wikipedia strives to maintain and it should not be described in this way, especially given that it was you who wrote it.
I disagree with your claim that the book is the only one to deal with the rise of post-processualism as I have several other contenders sitting on my bookshelf at this moment. Does your book genuinely go into lifelong biographical depth on the two men? If so I withdraw my objection to your reference.
To answer you question I am simply another user, as we all are, although some users receive limited further powers to better administrate the system.
Please understand that anonymous users who make a limited number of very specific edits to numerous pages are likely to have their motives treated with scepticism by others. I would welcome any edits you wished to make to the articles themselves which would demonstrate that you are not simply using the Wikipedia for free publicity. adamsan 18:49, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Okay, we are now getting onto a reasonable level of discussion about this. Firstly, I will study the proper referencing conventions and make sure that the reference to the book conforms to them. Second, I did not claim that my book was the only one to deal with the rise of post-processual archaeology, but that it deals in a way no other work does with the detailed personalities and events that lead to this movement--including, most importantly, the personal development of Ian Hodder, based on six years of interviews with him. The book is also based on detailed interviews with most of the original graduate student group, including Henrietta Moore, Chris Tilley, Michael Parker Pearson, etc. Most of the other works you mention are likely on my shelf as well, including the works of Bruce Trigger who was also interviewed at length for this book. And yes, the book does provide lengthy biographical details of Mellaart and Hodder that are available nowhere else. If you go on the Simonsays link that is given on my web site,, you can read the entire first chapter of the book about Mellaart--the first of three such chapters. I repeat my offer, made on the Mellaart page, to send you a copy of the book so you can be satisfied on this point, since as far as I can tell you are the main person who has objected to my additions. As for Hodder, his biography, personally and intellectually, covers two full chapters, and continues as he arrives at Catalhoyuk. In fact, the book was prepared with the full cooperation over many years of Hodder, Mellaart, and most members of the Catalhoyuk excavation team. I appreciate your vigilance in protecting Wikipedia from self-serving users, and support this. But it just happens in this case that my book, as confirmed by jacket blurbs from major archaeologists including Colin Renfrew, Bruce Trigger, and others who have read the book, is a real contribution to the history of Catalhoyuk and the people who have dug there, and as such should be brought to the attention of Wikipedia users interested in these subjects. Finally, I have in fact earlier made small changes to the original entries, including correcting the start date for the start of excavations in 1993. I had no desire to weigh in heavily and make big changes in the articles, because someone had obviously gone to a lot of work to write them and I respected that. However, I could add a great deal to the Mellaart and Hodder entries in particular, and would be happy to do so if I could be assured that it would not be erased!

Splendid I'm glad we have reached an accord. I will not remove any of your book references in the above articles provided that they follow the guidelines outlined previously. Do consider taking out a user name if you plan on any further additions; it is by no means compulsory but does mean that your edits will have greater credibility along with other benefits. Thank you for your kind offer of a copy of the book but I will probably end up buying one (when it comes out in paperback of course, I'm not made of money!). adamsan 20:09, 6 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Okay, and enjoy the book when you do get it. MBalter

I read Mr. Balter's book from cover to cover and, for the most part, enjoyed it. However, he's not an archaeologist, he's a magazine writer. The Goddess and the Bull is a fascinating study of the lives of the 100+ members of Ian Hodder's excavation team -- including their childhoods, marriages, divorces and affairs in many cases. He covers the Dorak Affair comprehensively and in an interesting way. He provides revealing information on who's funding Hodder's excavation. He does delve into post processualism and other aspects of archaeological theory and method. He goes into the behind-the-scenes social interactions between the excvation team members. However, there's very little in the book about the interpretation of the finds at Catalhoyuk. Mr. Balter's book is not to be considered the equivalent of a site report by any means, nor is it to be considered serious archaeology. The title is entirely misleading: there's almost nothing in the book about the religion of the Catalhoyukians. There is, however, quite a bit of subtle and not-so-subtle ridicule of female deity. Athana 22:12, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Turkish Question[edit]

Following , the pronunciation appears to be [ʧɑtɑl højyk]. Anyone who actually know Turkish, please correct me if I'm wrong.

This is the only time I've seen the Turkish pronunciation given correctly. I actually know Turkish. The transcription system used here is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a long-recognized standard for showing pronunciations of different languages. - Johanna Cybeleia

Edit - Hodder as Source[edit]

I added more detail/information to the article from sources by archaeologist Hodder. Comments welcome. WBardwin 04:26, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Discussion of the "Seated Woman" figure and animals at her Feet[edit]

Also see:
Talk:Cybele #Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük
Talk:Seated Goddess of Catalhuyuk

Since the "seated woman" figure (from Catalhoyuk, etc.), is striking, and there are examples numbering more than one ( 1 ), maybe some knowledgeable folks could enter 2,3,4 Paragraphs on some speculation and hypotheses on this "figure". I think there are some similar, and maybe older 'Neolithic'-type ( ? ), from Russia, the Western steppes of Russia ? Is that a poor guess? Anyway, I think the "seated woman" is profound, in its "Strength of Display", to coin a term. ....Michael McAnnis,YumaAZ... Sep 10,2005

Removed McAnnis' (User:Mmcannis) speculations regarding smooth plaster walls
(insect/arachnid control?//smoke cleaning?)
from the body of the article for discussion. WBardwin 23:16, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

Michael: Unfortunately, from what I can gather, the current excavators at Catalhoyuk fail to speak about this figurine in any great detail – or any other of the rich figurine collection from the site. All they do is go into great detail about what the figurines are not (they are not deities).

I’m hoping this latest 2005 find will convince them that they can’t just ignore this fascinating set of artifacts. James Mellaart, who found the seated, feline-flanked figure, thought she was a deity giving birth to a child. He thought she was being supported by the flanking animals. According to Balter, Ian Hodder says this figurine isn’t a deity because she was found in a grain bin; Mellaart on the other hand suggests that her grain-bin find-location simply signifies her magical ability to protect the grain – in my view a perfectly reasonable suggestion. Athana 23:27, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for some imput. MichaelMcAnnis,here in YumaAZ. I just entered on the Cylinder seal page, a cult, "liquid-offering" vessel 12 In. high, with a non-descript(female?) holding back dual lions, by the butt of their tails. (A "cylinder seal impression" is across the cornice, or cavetto of this 'building, cult, clay' item.)
It is obvious to me that the iconography of the "lion" was used in so many ways, for example as Kingship. Anyway the receptacle is from the Reference cited. Thanx againAthana.MMcAnnisMmcannis 17:01, 7 January 2006 (UTC)


Just wanted to let you know that I added the section on religion. Athana 18:22, 10 December 2005 (UTC)


BCE is fine for esoteric, academic journals (though I intend to do whatever I can to reverse this PC idiocy even there). BCE is entirely unnecessary here, will only confuse the uniformed who are the bulk of the users here. (Revert if you want, I choose to make my point on this article because the topic has been a twenty year fascination for me).

This isn't the place to make a point. If you're gearing up for a fight, can I recommend that you take it to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers), which has had this discussion perennially, with the conclusion that it's in the best interests of the encyclopedia not to change them arbitrarily. Specifically, I'll point to the following excerpts:
  • "Both the BCE/CE era names and the BC/AD era names are acceptable"
  • "When either of two styles are acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change."
  • "Revert warring over optional styles is unacceptable; if the article is colour rather than color, it would be wrong to switch simply to change styles"
There are a lot of people with very strong opinions both ways on this subject, and the compromise above seems to be the best solution, as it heads off what is often a pointless and divisive discussion. You're of course welcome to try and change people's minds via the MoS, but I personally think that there are better things for editors to be working on, like adding informative content. Ziggurat 21:15, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Amen. WBardwin 01:12, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

What is the Definition of Civilization?[edit]

As Catahoyuk had a population comparable to medieval London, I have to ask, what is our definition of "village", "town", "city" -- and "civilization"?

Is architectural, social, and productive egalitarianism incompatible with civilization? Do we have the mindset of the 19th Century reactionary, that without the Monarchy and the Church, civilization itself will cease to exist?

It's ironic that the most leftist of archaeologists are the most fervent

about maintaining Sumeria and Egypt, with their slave systems, as the first "civilizations" with "cities", and maintaining early post-glacial egalitarian cultures, some of which are turning out to be startlingly sophisticated, as more "primitive".

Well, if you're not satisfied with a definition (or definitions) you can find in dictionaries, try, as an introduction, The Goddess and the Bull by Michael Balter, he mentiones some scientific debates on the subject.--Barbatus 22:55, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

But in this article, just describing 10,000 people living in a conurbanization as a "village" (and note Mellaart calls it a "town") -- without delving into this question, seems to be an oversight. Catalhoyuk radically stretches the pre-existing concept of a "neolithic village" (which can include a circle of teepees) -- and is in fact proving to be a challenge to our ideas of "city" and "civilization". Catalhoyuk is not just another "village" -- it's something new -- a "multistory megavillage" if you must -- and this incrediblly inportant characteristic of the society is being ignored by the article.

I see this issue has been addressed now in the article in a fairly good way. However given that non-technical English defines habitation centers primarily by size, this sentence -- "However, it is more properly described as a large village rather than a true town, city or civilization" -- could be made more informative and neutral.

It could clarify that in the current technical usage of most archaeologists (not the expert Mellaart though), that the term "city" is reserved for urbanizations with hierarchy and division of labor.

Oxford American English Dictionary:

village - "A group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area."

town - "An urban area that has a name, defined boundaries, and local government, and that is larger than a village and generally smaller than a city."

city - "A large town."

Just to add another voice to this debate, I quote John Reader in his book Cities (2004, pp. 16-17):

"Çatal Hüyük is still often described as 'the world's first city', but the results of renewed excavations at the site indicated that it was more of an overgrown village than a city -- or a town -- even though many modern urban centres have far smaller populations. Ths point is that for archaeologists and historians the most meaningful difference between a village and a city has nothing to do with size; it is instead a measure of social and economic differentiation within the communities. In this scheme of things, a place occupied exclusively by people who had left the land to become full-time craftsmen, merchants, priests and civil servants was a city, while anywhere occupied principally by farmers was a village. By and large, only farmers lived in villages, while 'a key defining feature of a town or city is that farmers don't live in them'.

"At Çatal Hüyük there was no evidence of full-time craftsmen, merchants, priests and civil servants living off the surplus of a rural hinterland. Each family produced its own food, and also made pottery (and other items) for themselves as required. There was no temple, or public buildings which could be interpreted as centres of communal activity; instead, each house was a discrete entity, and each group of two to four houses shared their own shrine. Nor was there anything to indicate that the society at Çatal Hüyük was hierarchical, with lower and upper classes dominated by individuals of authority; no, the community consisted entirely of extended families gtrouped together in clusters of four or five houses, who carried on their daily activities more of less autonomously. Overall, social and economic arrangements at Çatal Hüyük appear to have been remarkably homogeneous and egalitarian.

"So Çatal Hüyük was something of a hybrid -- large enough to be a town and possessing all the ingredients needed to become a city, but retaining the social organisation and features of a village."

The current term for this type of settlement and the one used in wikipedia is proto-city describing a phase in urban history when a settlements achieved a large population but without the economic and cultural differentiation of a city according to the "definition" of a city by those who study urban history--Gurdjieff (talk) 16:41, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

“…may force us to change our views of the nature of Catalhoyuk society…”[edit]

If I'm not mistaken, the new take on Catalhoyuk society/religion (Michael Balter, The Goddess and the Bull) is that it was not matriarchal, and that the seated goddess figure isn't as important as has been previously assumed.

I personally find the logic in this revisionism utterly lacking (male elements but nothing to show male supremacy) -- but the Wikipedia article is currently not reporting the situation accurately at all.

(Again, if I'm not tragically confused, as all too often).

The first paragraph of the Religion section gives us the traditional interpretation.

The following paragraphs quote: “…may force us to change our views of the nature of Catalhoyuk society…” -- but don't mention what might be changing!

The section leaves the matriarchal figure as the sole mentioned religious focus of the society -- and in fact describes even a greater abundance of them being dug up.

Where's the discussion of the revisionist patriarchalism?

I think I agree with the above unsigned comments. Hodder's argument--that signs of egalitarianism rule out a matriarchal society--assumes that a matriarchal society would show signs of stratification that are opposite to patriarchal systems. However, in my mind, a matriarchal system could very much be egalitarian. Just because patriarchies favour men (in terms of social stratification) doesn't mean matriarchies would favour women. They would just be run by women. Considering that women were gatherers and therefore likely the first agriculturalists, it seems reasonable that they might begin a sedentary farm life as the leaders and managers of farm food as well as the creators of deities that relate to the harvest --Flurryofcrispycoffee (talk) 08:49, 20 November 2014 (UTC)

I am still reeling in disgust and disbelief[edit]

I recently read both the book by Balter (not very helpful as far as CH goes) and Ian Hodder's Leopard's Tale. Also a chapter on CH in (I believe) After the Ice, fairly recently published.

It completely changed my ideas about CH, and I have since been wondering if the CH inhabitants were, er, insane. Get this:

  • they lived in crowded conditions on top of a mud heap in the middle of marshes (which do not tend to be healthy environments for humans to start with)
  • their houses were so full of smoke that all the older folks had soot deposits on lungs
  • the area around them flooded every year, and the archeologists say they must have walked 7 kilometers to any fields they may have had (how does that make sense?)
  • they tossed their excrement and garbage from the roofs into spaces between houses; the stench, supplemented by the corpses under the floor, must have been intense
  • they led a toilsome existence, constantly plastering, building and rebuilding, moving ovens, stairs, etc etc, digging up the dead, beheading some, putting weasel excrement on others...!
  • they had to access houses from the top, unlike in pueblos, and had to crawl on all fours thru tiny doorways (wasn't that a tad tough on the older folk?)
  • the "art" on their house walls included vultures pecking at headless corpses, and human breasts rendered in clay that had vulture skulls built in, poking their beaks thru the nipples; Sigmund Freud would have a field day with these folks!

These people, to all apparent evidence, were egalitarian and therefore completely free to walk away from this depressing, miserable, laborious existence. Yet they stayed. What the heck??!!

How about some discussion here of all this weird weird stuff?! V.B. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:33, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

I suspect this may have been some kind of ancient gulag or near-gulag being presented as an egalitarian "worker's paradise" by believers in Marxist (and/or Marxist-feminist) fairy-tales, with the people being kept enslaved by their own inherited ideology/religion and/or perhaps by a ruling elite that lived a long way away in a less unhealthy environment, along with a high risk of starvation and sex-starvation for anybody who fled (as a few probably did). But these Talk Pages are for improving our article, not for discussing the topic. So unless somebody (probably somebody else, as I'm probably not sufficiently interested) can come up with Reliable Sources that support any of our above speculations, this discussion would have to be abandoned (or continued somewhere else, which I won't be doing).Tlhslobus (talk) 04:13, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
That said, my above comment may just reflect my own bias, and many of their 'problems' may only seem like problems to us - they were probably 'nose-blind' to the stench, the marshes may have been useful for defence, the miserable conditions were presumably less miserable than the likely alternatives (and/or were thought to be so by the inhabitants), some of these 'problems' are also found in other ancient cities and also in parts of the Third World today, and so on (though as usual this can only be included in the article if backed by reliable sources).Tlhslobus (talk) 04:33, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
There also seems to be a bit of a contradiction between the claim in our text that it was a classless egalitarian society and Hodder's quoted statement "... If one's social status was of high importance in Çatalhöyük, the body and head were separated after death. ...", which suggests it had hierarchies, but that we just don't understand the details. One may also add that failure (so far) to find palaces or temples doesn't prove there weren't any, especially if there are ideological, funding, or careerist ('I don' want to have to publicly eat my words') reasons for not wanting to look for buildings that would make the place far less interesting, as it would no longer be a unique egalitarian society. And of course the alleged 'goddess' figurine appears seated on some kind of throne - both goddesses and thrones are hardly egalitarian concepts, even if there may well be no RS to say so. Tlhslobus (talk) 05:08, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

The point about the elderly couldn't be true because of their life span combined with those living conditions would make it improbable of having any elderly living.

The term 'elderly' wasn't used before your post. Some 'older people' will always survive since everybody can't die at exactly the same age, even if they need not be 'elderly', especially by our standards.Tlhslobus (talk) 03:57, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

co-ordinates wrong[edit]

The real co-ordinate are: 37° 39' 55.94 N, 32° 49' 34.68 E (which moves it about 6.5 KM to the east - and to the correct spot)!


the amount and formatting of the images relative to the text size ruined the layout of the article so I shifted them to a gallery until the text increases, or someone can do a better job on the layout. I fixed most of the dates, distances, titles, and other formatting to match the MoS.

This article needs 1 svg maps of the site 2 a chronology of the layers as a bulleted list 3 content on the relationship of the site to other neolithic cultures 4 an svg illustration of a typical house with labels --Gurdjieff (talk) 16:37, 27 January 2009 (UTC)


How come Hasandağı volcano 140 km at the east has been mentioned, but the Karadağ volcane some 25 km at the south east has been omitted ? Nedim Ardoğa (talk) 11:02, 5 January 2011 (UTC)


Has anyone but me compared this site to a slum that simply preceded conurbations? —Pawyilee (talk) 14:18, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

See my suggestion that it may have been a gulag or near-gulag in my reply in the above section ("I am still reeling in disgust and disbelief") - but unfortunately you and I don't count as reliable sources so our speculations can't go into the article unless backed by reliable sources.Tlhslobus (talk) 04:20, 22 January 2016 (UTC)


Has anyone read of any horses at that time, as bones or pictures, or figurines?? Or further, anywhere in Anatolia in the 7th millennium BC?? HJJHolm (talk) 07:21, 26 April 2014 (UTC)


The 5th paragraph of the Culture section begins with the sentence, "Apart of ritual life, the people of Çatalhöyük buried their dead within the village." I'm not sure how to read "apart" here. Should this be "A part" (also meaning "a component") or is it actually intended to be "Apart" (also meaning "separate from" in which case the inclusion of the following "of" is an error). I'm thinking it is supposed to be "A part" but I thought I would double check here on the Talk page in case I was missing a different intention by the composer of the sentence. — al-Shimoni (talk) 20:50, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Added with [1], change to "As a part"? Doug Weller (talk) 08:13, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

Metal work[edit]

I had read that Catal Huyuk was a metal-working centre, and was arguably where metal-working began, involved in working copper, and that this was what made it notable. The text mentions it is Chalcolithic, meaning Copper Age, and has metallurgy in the infobox, but otherwise says nothing about metal-working. Why not? (Even if somehow it is no longer seen as a metal-working centre, we should probably say that it used to be seen as such by at least some sources, but no longer is for reasons X, Y, and Z, and we might then also want to remove metallurgy and Chalcolithic from the text and infobox). Tlhslobus (talk) 03:44, 22 January 2016 (UTC)