Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Getting to the Bottom of It All: A Bayesian Approach to Dating the Start of Çatalhöyük

  • Alex Bayliss
  • Fiona Brock
  • Shahina Farid
  • Ian Hodder
  • John Southon
  • R. E. Taylor
Article

Abstract

A new radiocarbon dating program, conceived at the outset within a Bayesian statistical framework, has recently been applied to the earliest levels of occupation on the Neolithic East Mound at Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. Çatalhöyük was excavated by James Mellaart from 1961 to 1965 and new excavations directed by Ian Hodder started in 1993. In 2012 the site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, the precise dating of the site has remained insecure, bracketed somewhere between the late eighth and the early sixth millennium BC calibrated. In a new dating program reported on here, dates previously obtained from the site have been allied with new dates to produce a series of models that could be evaluated statistically and in relation to taphonomic considerations. The preferred model puts the earliest excavated layers at Çatalhöyük 200 years later than previously thought. The implications of this later dating for local continuity and for the spread of pottery are discussed.

Keywords

Radiocarbon dating Bayesian statistics Neolithic Pottery Çatalhöyük 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The dating program on which this article is based was made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation; the research at Çatalhöyük is also funded by The British Institute in Ankara, the National Geographic Society, Yapı Kredi, Boeing, Shell, Hedef Alliance and Stanford University. The NERC-AHRC Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Dating Service (ORADS) is acknowledged for providing funding for dating the Celtis samples (NF/2002/2/4). We thank Lisa Yeomans for identifying articulating bone groups from the archive, and the staff of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit and the Keck Carbon Cycle AMS facility for their all their hard work in the laboratories.

Supplementary material

10963_2015_9083_MOESM1_ESM.tif (719 kb)
Supplementary material 1. Probability distributions of dates from the Hodder deep sounding through Çatalhöyük East. Each distribution represents the relative probability that an event occurs at a particular time. For each of the dates two distributions have been plotted: one in outline, which is the result of simple radiocarbon calibration, and a solid one, based on the chronological model used. Distributions other than those relating to particular samples correspond to aspects of the model. For example, the distribution ‘start mound’ is the estimated date when the mound started to accumulate in the deep sounding. Measurements followed by a question mark and shaded in grey have been excluded from the model for reasons explained in the text, and are simple calibrated dates (Stuiver and Reimer 1993). The large square brackets down the left-hand side along with the OxCal keywords define the overall model exactly (TIF 720 kb)
10963_2015_9083_MOESM2_ESM.tif (845 kb)
Supplementary material 2. Alternative model for the chronology of Hodder deep sounding through Çatalhöyük East, allowing for a variable rate of midden accumulation. The format is identical to that of Fig. 2. The large square brackets down the left-hand side along with the OxCal keywords define the overall model exactly (TIF 846 kb)
10963_2015_9083_MOESM3_ESM.tif (2.3 mb)
Supplementary material 3. Model 3 showing the calibrated dates on calcified hackberry endocarps (in grey) in the stratigraphic positions from which the samples derived. The format is identical to that of Fig. 2. The large square brackets down the left-hand side along with the OxCal keywords define the overall model exactly (TIF 2309 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Bayliss
    • 1
  • Fiona Brock
    • 2
  • Shahina Farid
    • 3
  • Ian Hodder
    • 4
  • John Southon
    • 5
  • R. E. Taylor
    • 5
  1. 1.Biological & Environmental SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator UnitUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Stanford Archaeology CenterStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  5. 5.Keck Carbon Cycle AMS FacilityUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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