Art Principles and History

Prehistoric Art

What was Çatal Huyuk?

Çatal Huyuk was a sophisticated, urban-like Neolithic settlement that developed about one thousand years after Jericho in present-day Turkey. The densely clustered houses of Çatal Huyuk were made of timber and mud brick; the village had no streets and the houses had no doors—the villagers entered their homes through the roof. Many apparent religious shrines have been found at Çatal Huyuk, though nothing is known of specific religious beliefs practiced by the inhabitants here. Naturalistic figures made of clay and stone have been found at the site, including representations of animals such as goats, cattle, and boars that appear to have been ritualistically stabbed in a manner that suggests hunting rites. Stylized female figures have also been discovered with pointed legs and angular faces, along with larger figurines that scholars associate with a commonly revered Great Mother deity. Çatal Huyuk is also notable for its paintings, including a wall painting of the town itself, with Hasan Dag, a nearby twin-coned volcano shown hovering just beyond the village limits. This wall painting is among the earliest paintings ever done on a man-made surface.


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