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Anatolia – The Craddle of Civilization

Boncuklu Höyük

The occupants of Boncuklu Höyük, or literally the “Beaded Mound,” are thought to be ancestors of the people of Çatalhöyük, a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia. The deepest layers of the mound are thought to date from around 7,500 BC.

The settlement reveal information previously unknown about the lives of nomadic human communities in times before settlement, say archeologists. The settlement discovered in Konya dates back 11,000 years. It was a settlement occupied by a nomadic tribe 11,000 years ago.

Çatalhöyük and Boncuklu Höyük, with very similar artifacts found at both sites, cannot be thought of separately, according to Baird, whose team thinks the people of Boncuklu Höyük preceded those in Çatalhöyük by 2,000 years. Boncuklu Höyük is thought to have been a temporary settlement for nomadic tribes used for brief stays during the course of their journeys. In other words, they are the ancestors of Çatalhöyük.

The people of Boncuklu Höyük, like those of Çatalhöyük, did not have a completely settled lifestyle. According to Baind the descendants of that community might have migrated to Çatalhöyük, where they formed an early settlement, developing agriculture and raising stock.


Çatal Höyük

Çatal Höyük (çatal is Turkish for “fork”, höyük for “mound”) was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 B.C. to 5700 B.C. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date. In July 2012, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Catal Huyuk was one of the world’s first towns and its ruins demonstrate the agricultural techniques of some of the human race’s first farmers. This settlement, located in the present day country of Turkey, contained about 1,000 residences by the year 6,000 B.C. It sat at the northern end of what was apparently a trade route between itself and the city of Jericho. Here men and women tried to survive using the earliest farming methods known to our ancestors.

The bull in Anatolia would influence a variety of religious cults in antiquity. From bull jumping in Minoan Crete, to the worship of the Apis bull in Egypt, to the sacrificial portrayal in Roman Mithraism, the bull was an integral part of many diverse and important religious traditions.

In the Ancient Near East the earliest evidence of a bull cult was found at Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia around 7000 BCE. Bull paintings are featured on the northern walls of shrines which are like simulations of caves. There are even early representations of bull-games, specifically bull-leaping. The paintings depicts young acrobats jumping over the backs of bulls. Besides paintings, the shrines also include three-dimensional model bull heads made from plaster. Some bulls are depicted being born of the Goddess indicating a connection between bull and Mother Goddess worship. Actual bull skulls and horns were used to decorate the shrines as well.

Je slika Boginje i bika, kao i sup pokazuju da vjerska uvjerenja stanovnika Catal Huyuka bile su usmjerene na smrti i ponovnog rođenja. Slike ogromnih supova ukazuju na praksu excarnation, gdje su ostali organi za ćišćenje ptice odabrati čist. Prvi pečat pečata, koji su mogli biti korišteni za tijelo i tekstilne dekoracije, pronađeni su u Catal Huyuka. Brtve nose sliku bika posebno su česti. Migraciju ljudi i trgovaca iz Catal Huyuka možda su donijeli svoje vjerske i ritualnom djelatnosti s bika i na druga područja u idućih nekoliko tisuća godina.

In Mesopotamia, the bull was to become a symbol of divinity rather than just an object of cult veneration. For the early Sumerians the bull symbolized divinity and power. Their chief gods Enlil and Enki would be honored as the “Great Bull” in song and ritual, and bulls would occasionally be represented on stamp seals with the gods.

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh the bull is represented as Gugalanna, the husband of Ereshkigal the Goddess of the Underworld. He is also called the “Bull of Heaven” and is sent by Anu to kill Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu after Gilgamesh refuses to marry the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna is represented as an actual bull in the lines “with his first snort cracks opened in the earth and a hundred young men fell down to death”. There is even a bull-games aspect in the passage; “Enkidu dodged aside and leapt on the Bull and seized it by the horns”. Gilgamesh then succeeds in slaying the bull by thrusting his sword in its neck. The Bull of Heaven was not killed in the sacrificial manner by slashing the jugular which may be symbolic of the killing of the Mother goddess, in the form of Innana. This could indicate the rejection of the connection with Goddess worship as found in Çatal Hüyük thousands of years before.

One area where elements of Goddess and bull worship may have continued is Minoan Crete in the second millennium BCE. There is evidence that Crete was first inhabited by migrant peoples from Anatolia and possibly people from Çatal Hüyük. Walter Burkert in Greek Religion states “the finds from the Neolithic town of Çatal Hüyük now make it almost impossible to doubt that the horned symbol which Evans called ‘horns of consecration’ does indeed derive from real bull horns”. Arthur Evans discovered and restored the ‘Palace of Minos’ at Knossos on Crete. The ‘horns of consecration’ are large bull horns on the walls of Knossos that have to come to symbolize the bull-games Cretan culture is famous for. The ‘palatial buildings’ discovered by Evans may actually be religious temples rather than buildings of government administration or a king’s palace. Cretan religious practices may have its roots in the Goddess cult from Anatolia as the evidence suggests the establishment was predominantly female.

Besides the earliest depiction of bull-games at Çatal Hüyük, bull-leaping paintings have been found in Egypt at Tell el-Daba’a, the ancient city of Avaris. The culture synonymous with bull-games is undeniably Crete in the second millennium BCE. The earliest representation of bull-leaping on Crete is from a pottery figure dated to circa 2000 BCE which depicts small humans holding the bull’s horns. The wall decorations at Knossos show human figures, some women dressed as men, gracefully jumping and performing acrobatic feats over the backs of the bull. Other representations depict wrestling with the bull and images of unfortunate bull-leapers being thrown, trampled or gored by the bull’s horns.


Aşıklı Höyük

Aşıklı Höyük is a settlement mound located nearly 1 km south of Kızılkaya village on the bank of the Melendiz brook, and 25 kilometers south – east of Aksaray, Turkey. Aşıklı Höyük is located in an area covered by the volcanic tuff of central Cappadocia, in Aksaray Province. The archaeological site of Aşıklı Höyük was first settled in the Aceramic Neolithic period, around 8000 BC.



Hacilar is an early human settlement in southwestern Turkey, 25 km southwest of present day Burdur. It has been dated back 7040 BC at its earliest stage of development. Archaeological remains indicate that the site was abandoned and reoccupied on more than one occasion in its history.

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