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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 189–206 | Cite as

The Urban Quandary and the ‘Mega-Site’ from the Çatalhöyük Perspective

  • Lindsay Der
  • Justine Issavi
Article

Abstract

This paper considers the phenomenon of urbanism and the ‘mega-site’ from the perspective of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Anatolia. At 13 hectares, with 18 levels of Neolithic occupation spanning 1100 years, and peaking at around 8000 inhabitants, Çatalhöyük is considered to be an important source of evidence regarding the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration. While parallels can be identified between spatio-temporally separated sites, we argue that traditional models of urbanism disregard divergent long-term trajectories. Thus, a comparative look at different types of sites has the potential to provide new insights into broader questions concerning highly populated permanent settlements in the prehistoric period and contemporary concepts of urbanism, providing a useful alternative to diffusionist or grand narratives. Here, we consider social and ritual practice, settlement layout and space, and social organization as they relate to the urban qualities of this prehistoric town and within the Middle Eastern Neolithic context.

Keywords

Çatalhöyük Urbanism Mega-site Neolithic 

Özet

Bu bölümde, Anadolu’da bulunan Neolitik döneme ait Çatalhöyük bakış açısıyla, ‘şehircilik’ ve ‘mega-site’ fenomenini değerlendirmektedir. 13 hektarlık alana yayılmış, 1100 yıl boyunca süregelmiş 18 Neolitik yerleşke ve 8000 kişilik nüfusu ile Çatalhöyük köyden kentsel yaşama geçişin en önemli kanıtı olarak kabul edilmektedir. Tartışılan konu, mekan ve zaman bağlamı yönünden benzer yerler ile paralellik göstermesine rağmen, şehirleşmeye dair geleneksel modellerin, birbirine uyumsuz bu tür bir gidişatları uzun dönemde gözardı etmesidir. Bu nedenle, farklı prehistorik dönemlere ait karşılaştırmalı bu bakış açısı, yüksek nüfuslu prehistorik yeni yerleşkeleri içeren kapsamlı sorulara, çağdaş şehircilik anlayışına, yayılmacı ve ya büyük anlatımlara faydalı bir alternatif cevap olabilme potansiyeli oluşturmaktadır. Burada, bu prehistorik kasabanın sosyal ve ritüel uygulamalarını, yerleşim planını ve uzay alanını, şehircilik anlayışı niteliklerine ve Orta Doğu Neolitik bağlamına uygun olduğunu düşünüyoruz.

Notes

Acknowledgements

First and foremost, we would like to thank the organizers—John Chapman, Johannes Müller, Mikhail Videiko, Bisserka Gaydarska, Marco Nebbia, and Robert Hofmann—of the 2014 EAA session on ‘Pre-Roman Urbanism in Eurasia’, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey. They generously invited us to contribute to the session, as well as to this special issue. Particular thanks go to Bisserka Gaydarska for her tireless efforts in compiling this publication. Data was provided through the hard work of the Çatalhöyük Research Project team members. Funding and support for this paper and the preceding presentation was provided by the Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford Anthropology Department, Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Stanford Humanities Center, and by an Amazon Web Services in Education Research Grant award. Lastly, we thank the JWP Board members for their constructive comments in the early stages of this special issue.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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