Artist’s conception of Çatalhöyük. Image credit: Dan Lewandowski.
Twelve millennia ago in central Turkey, over the period 9,130 to 7,370 calibrated BC, surrounded by a plain, atop a hill named Göbekli Tepe, a large multi-tribe group of Hunter Gatherers erected a temple, then another, and sequentially about 20 more. It is hypothesized that only one temple was in use at a time, and they backfilled the latest temple as they erected the next, and finally called it quits and backfilled the last around 7,370 cal BC, as these builders completed their transition through the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution. They were no longer hunter-gatherers but now farmers with a mixed economy of planting, herding, and breeding some animals to work or otherwise produce for their food—not just be the food. By this point, a large number of contemporary agriculturalists were congregated in one proto-city called Çatalhöyük (7,500 to 5,700 BC) as-well-as on the plain around Göbekli Tepe (unexcavated). In some places a contemporaneous full transition was completed locally e.g. Jericho, and Ain Ghazal, although we cannot rule out a widespread cross-fertilization across the Middle East.
Klaus Schmidt‘s work as excavation director at Gobekli Tepe has only begun to push back the cultural timeline of the Middle-Eastern Neolithic. The emergence of religion at the beginning, rather than at the end, of the agricultural neolithic has revolutionary philosophical implications, which a lot of archaeologists won’t want to touch in today’s highly charged environment of political correctness, where God is a construct of man, rather than man’s creator. Well, prepare yourself for a lot of twisting and turning on the tip of this needle.
Let’s look at this video and consider the postprocessualist reasoning regarding the progress of mankind at Çatalhöyük by the excavation director, Dr. Ian Hodder. I perceived his reasoning as obviously forced to fit his preconceptions, especially all the happy talk about non-striving folks, without nasty hierarchies, farming together in a communal plot, with communal medical care, exempt from the hard reality of aggressive neighbors. Kum ba yah.
I know you’re just dying to know what preceded postprocessualist theory, which paradigms in order were: Processual archaeology, preceded by Culture-historical archaeology, preceded by Sociocultural evolution, preceded by Grave Robbery. It is certainly not correct to think most archaeologists are involved in avant garde (AKA politically correct) schools of archaeology. I want to believe most share my advocacy of Sergeant Friday‘s school: “Just give me the facts, Ma’am.”
Thanks for visiting,
R. E. J. Burke