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Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük

Date of inclusion on the World Heritage List: 2012

List reference: 1405 Criteria: Cultural

Another time, another life

Catalhoyuk in Cumra, 45 km south of Konya, is a fascinating Neolithic site in Central Anatolia from the 10th-8th centuries. Millennium BC BC, which makes it one of the oldest cities in the world. The most famous period of urbanization in Catalhoyuk is between layers 7 and 11. Houses with square walls adjoined each other but did not share common walls (each house had its own walls). Houses were planned separately and built one house next to another whenever necessary. Because of the adjoining walls of the houses, there were no roads in the city. Archaeologists have established that holes in the roofs of the mud houses were the entrance doors. Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations houses the famous temple house (reconstructed) as well as Cybele figures of the mother goddess, obsidian and clay objects, and Neolithic frescoes from the original site. The murals at Catalhoyuk were found in layers 10 and 11. The most beautiful and sophisticated belong to the seventh and fifth layers. These pictures are the continuation of the Paleolithic tradition of taking pictures on cave walls. You might also have believed that these images would bring them luck in the hunt. In later ages we see that home decorations were limited to bird patterns and geometric designs

UNESCO »World Heritage Center»

Two hills form the 37 hectare site on the southern Anatolian plateau. The higher eastern hill contains eighteen Neolithic levels of occupation between 7400 and 6200 BC. BC, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other symbolic and artistic features. Together they testify to the development of social organization and cultural practices as people who have adapted to a sedentary life. The western hill shows the development of cultural practices in the Chalcolithic period from 6200 BC. Until 5200 BC Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from populated villages to urban agglomerations that have been maintained in the same place for over 2,000 years. It has a unique streetless settlement of houses grouped one behind the other with roof access to the buildings.

Excellent universal value
Brief synthesis

The huge archaeological site of Çatalhöyük consists of two tells that rise up to 20 meters above the Konya plain on the southern Anatolian plateau. Excavations of the eastern Tell have 18 Neolithic occupation levels from 7,400 to 6,200 BC. Revealed, which provides unique evidence of the development of prehistoric social organization and cultural practices and illuminates man’s early adaptation to sedentary life and agriculture. The western Tell excavations showed mainly Chalcolithic occupation levels from 6,200 to 5,200 BC. Reflecting the continuation of the cultural practices that were evident in the earlier eastern hill.

Çatalhöyük is a very rare example of a well-preserved Neolithic settlement and has been considered one of the most important places for understanding human prehistory for several decades. The site is exceptional for its considerable size and long life of the settlement, its distinctive arrangement of successive roof-access houses and the presence of a large collection of features including murals and reliefs depicting the symbolic world of the inhabitants. Due to the extensively documented research at the site, it is the most important human settlement due to the features mentioned above, which documents the early settled agricultural life of a Neolithic community.

Criterion (iii): Çatalhöyük is a unique testimony to a Neolithic moment when the first agricultural settlements were founded in Central Anatolia and developed over centuries from villages to urban centers, largely based on egalitarian principles. The early principles of these settlements have been well preserved for several millennia through the abandonment of the site. These principles can be found in the city map, in architectural structures, wall paintings and burial records. The stratigraphy of up to 18 settlement layers is an exceptional testimony to the gradual development, transformation and expansion of the settlement.

Criterion (iv): The house clusters of Çatalhöyük, which are characterized by their streetless neighborhoods, apartments with roof access and house types that represent a well-defined distribution of activity areas and features according to a clear spatial order that is aligned with the cardinal points, form an outstanding one Neolithic type settlement. The comparable sizes of apartments across the city illustrate an early style of urban design based on communal and egalitarian ideals.


The excavated remains of the 2000 year old prehistoric settlement are preserved in good condition on site and are completely contained within the property boundaries. The two archaeological mounds rise from the surrounding plain and form a distinctive landscape feature that has retained its visual integrity. Protective huts built over the two main excavation areas protect the archaeological structures from direct climatic influences and thus reduce the immediate dangers of rain and erosion.


The archaeological remains of Çatalhöyük have preserved authenticity in terms of material, substance, location and surroundings. Over forty years of well-documented research and excavations at the site testify to the legibility of the site as an early Neolithic settlement and thus to its authenticity. The site and the excavations are well preserved. The physical mass and size of the hills has not changed significantly since the site was first discovered in 1958.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected at the highest level as an ancient monument under the Turkish General Directorate of Monuments by Law 2863/1983 for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was amended in 1987 and 2004. It was registered as a nature reserve in the national inventory from 1981 by the Supreme Council for Immovable Antiquities and Monuments. According to these instruments, the local authorities are also responsible for protecting property.

The management of the site is overseen by the Çatalhöyük Coordination and Monitoring Board (CSC), an advisory board and a management plan team. A site manager has been officially appointed and a management plan team with experts from the excavation team in Çatalhöyük and the departments associated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has also been set up. Based on experience with an earlier management plan drawn up in 2004, the new management plan to be adopted contains specific sections on visitor management, access, education, risk taking and local community involvement and is expected to be completed in late 2012. The provision of regular financial and human resources Resources as well as a special archive for the documentation of excavation and conservation measures are the key to the management system.

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