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Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 27–68 | Cite as

Bioarchaeology of Neolithic Çatalhöyük: Lives and Lifestyles of an Early Farming Society in Transition

  • Clark Spencer Larsen
  • Simon W. Hillson
  • Başak Boz
  • Marin A. Pilloud
  • Joshua W. Sadvari
  • Sabrina C. Agarwal
  • Bonnie Glencross
  • Patrick Beauchesne
  • Jessica Pearson
  • Christopher B. Ruff
  • Evan M. Garofalo
  • Lori D. Hager
  • Scott D. Haddow
  • Christopher J. Knüsel
Article

Abstract

The bioarchaeological record of human remains viewed in the context of ecology, subsistence, and living circumstances provides a fundamental source for documenting and interpreting the impact of plant and animal domestication in the late Pleistocene and early to middle Holocene. For Western Asia, Çatalhöyük (7100–5950 cal BC) in central Anatolia, presents a comprehensive and contextualized setting for interpreting living circumstances in this highly dynamic period of human history. This article provides an overview of the bioarchaeology of Çatalhöyük in order to characterize patterns of life conditions at the community level, addressing the question, What were the implications of domestication and agricultural intensification, increasing sedentism, and population growth for health and lifestyle in this early farming community? This study employs demography, biogeochemistry, biodistance analysis, biomechanics, growth and development, and paleopathology in order to identify and interpret spatial and temporal patterns of health and lifestyle under circumstances of rapid population growth and aggregation and changing patterns of acquiring food and other resources. The record suggests that the rapid growth in population size was fueled by increased fertility and birthrate. Although the household was likely the focus of economic activity, our analysis suggests that individuals interred in houses were not necessarily biologically related. Predictably, the community employed resource extraction practices involving increased mobility. Although oral and skeletal indicators suggest some evidence of compromised health (e.g. elevated subadult infection, dental caries), growth and development of juveniles and adult body size and stature indicate adjustments to local circumstances.

Keywords

Domestication Paleodemography Paleopathology Stable isotopes Biomechanics Biodistance Growth 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research presented in this article involved considerable fieldwork and laboratory study, all made possible by the support of many individuals. Larsen and Hillson thank Ian Hodder, director of the Çatalhöyük Research Project, for inviting us to co-direct the study of the human remains. We also thank him for the opportunity to collaborate with the other project members in this integrative research program. We thank Shahina Farid for all of her logistical support over the years of our involvement in the project. Her patience with our many questions about the site, our work at Çatalhöyük, and the many details that went into it are much appreciated. Larsen and Hillson acknowledge all of the members the Human Remains Team for their collaborations since we began work at the site in 2004. We especially thank the following individuals: Emmy Bocaege, Kim Christenson, Evan Garofalo, James Gosman, Sally Graver, Lesley Gregoricka. The opportunity to work in this collaborative effort with others at Çatalhöyük is very much appreciated. We acknowledge Banu Aydinoğluğil, Amy Bogaard, Jennifer Byrnes, Mike Charles, Yildiz Dirmit, Ian Hodder, Sarah Jones, Kathryn Killacky, Tomasz Kozlowski, Louise Martin, Wendy Matthews, Camilla Mazzucato, Sanaz Mehran, Lynn Meskell, Levent Özer, Jason Quinlan, Nerissa Russell, Mesa Schumacher, and Kathy Twiss for all of their discussions and advice. We also thank the various colleagues who provided their help, expertise, and advice at various points of the research: Amanda Agnew, Peter Andrews, Sandra Bond, Andrew Burghardt, Libby Cowgill, Pete Ditchfield, Andrew Fairbairn, Robert Hedges, Gordon Hillman, Brigitte Holt, Theya Molleson, Ken Neal, Metin Özbek, Nicole Poole, Neil Roberts, Laurie Roderick, Vladimir Sládek, Sam Stout, Ginette Warr, and Lindy Whitley. Thanks are extended to Dr. Mehmet Oğuz for his permission to use the x-ray machine in the health clinic in Çumra for data collection relating to bone cross-sectional geometry. Clinic technicians Kadir Ertunç and Ramazan Akyol assisted us, making possible efficient use of the equipment and facilities at the clinic. We also thank the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, for access to the J. Lawrence Angel archive relating to his research on the Çatalhöyük remains excavated by James Mellaart. No project of this size and scope is possible without generous financial support. In this regard, we thank Ian Hodder for support through the Çatalhöyük Research Project and the National Geographic Society for two grants awarded over the course of the research (to Larsen, Hillson, Hodder, Ruff, and Boz). The comparative biomechanical data were derived from research funded by the US National Science Foundation (Ruff). Support for stable isotope analyses was provided by grants from the US National Science Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Natural Environment Research Council (Pearson). Other substantive financial support was provided by The Ohio State University (Larsen), University College London (Hillson), University of California Berkeley’s Stahl Faculty Fund and COR Faculty Research Grant (Agarwal), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship (Glencross), Pacific Legacy, Inc. (Hager), American Research Institute in Turkey (Pilloud), University of Toronto’s Connaught New Staff Matching Grant (Glencross), Trakya University (Boz), and the University of Oxford and University of Liverpool (Pearson).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clark Spencer Larsen
    • 1
  • Simon W. Hillson
    • 2
  • Başak Boz
    • 3
  • Marin A. Pilloud
    • 4
  • Joshua W. Sadvari
    • 1
  • Sabrina C. Agarwal
    • 5
  • Bonnie Glencross
    • 6
  • Patrick Beauchesne
    • 7
  • Jessica Pearson
    • 8
  • Christopher B. Ruff
    • 9
  • Evan M. Garofalo
    • 10
  • Lori D. Hager
    • 11
  • Scott D. Haddow
    • 12
  • Christopher J. Knüsel
    • 13
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, 4034 Smith LaboratoryThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyT.R. Trakya UniversityTrakyaTurkey
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada RenoRenoUSA
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  6. 6.Department of AnthropologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  7. 7.Department of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Michigan DearbornDearbornUSA
  8. 8.Department of Archaeology, Classics and EgyptologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  9. 9.Center for Functional Anatomy and EvolutionJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  10. 10.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  11. 11.Pacific LegacyArnoldUSA
  12. 12.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityPalo AltoUSA
  13. 13.Laboratory of PrehistoryUniversity of BordeauxBordeaux 1France

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