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Ian Hodder

13. The spatio-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk

Ian Hodder

Archaeologists have long focused on the problems of excavating large multi-level sites. In this paper I want to focus on how the structure of a tell, its spatio-temporal organisation, is the product of a social process. The aim is to pick apart the vertical and spatial relationships embedded in the tell of atalhyk in order to see how the anatomy of the tell can inform us about the nature of social relationships at this 9000 year-old site (occupied from 7400 to 6200 cal BC). The anatomical structure is not a reflection of the changing social order. Rather I argue that it is a part of that order. Tells can be constructed in many ways. Buildings can be built directly over earlier buildings, or the locations of buildings can shift through time. Buildings can be spatially differentiated or they can be repetitive and homogeneous. There can be open spaces, refuse and burial areas, either located in specific zones or dispersed amongst houses. As layer is piled on layer, choices are made that have social significance. Through the anatomical study of the tell as a social matrix, I hope to contribute to an understanding of Neolithic society in Anatolia.

atalhyk was first excavated by Mellaart between 1961 and 1965 (e.g. Mellaart 1967) and his work and publications established the international significance of the site. The concentration of symbolism at the site was revealed and a new phase was initiated in understanding the Neolithic of the Near East. Mellaarts excavations were conducted on a large scale and they demonstrated the extraordinary density of buildings on the site, with houses built up against each other so that movement around the settlement was on the roofs of houses. Entrance into houses was through the same hole in the roof through which the smoke from hearths and ovens escaped.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Mellaarts findings was the size of the Neolithic East Mound. At 13.5 hectares, and with densely packed housing, population estimates vary between 3000 and 8000 for any one phase of occupation. Certainly in the more extensively occupied levels amongst the 18 that have been identified, population figures in the upper end of the range might be expected. But should one call such a settlement a village, a town, or even a city? atalhyk confounds attempts to use these modern western definitions. On the one hand, the settlement seems rather too large to use the term village. On the other hand, there is little evidence so far of the internal differentiation of functions that we normally associate with urbanism. There are houses and areas of refuse at atalhyk, but as yet, despite extensive survey work, there is no evidence of public buildings, industrial areas (except lime burning off the edge of the site), cemeteries (burial occurs within houses), or ceremonial centres. On the whole, the recent field research at atalhyk, which started in 1993, has corroborated the findings of Mellaart (Hodder 1996; 2000; in press a; in press b; in press c; in press d). We have added to, rather than contradicted his findings. In some areas there are differences in emphasis. For example, the more recent research has found much evidence of occupation even in the most elaborate buildings identified by Mellaart as shrines. We have termed all buildings at the site domestic houses although we recognize differences in the internal elaboration of houses the most symbolically elaborate corresponding in general terms with his shrines. We see slight evidence of specialization of production in the more elaborate houses. But the question remains how the settlement was organised, and how this organisation can inform the interpretation of the site as village, town or city. As will be noted further below, production at atalhyk is largely organised at the domestic scale. While there is some specialisation of production, many

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk productive tasks are organised at the household level. We shall see that the social anatomy of the tell is largely atomized into individual houses and their individual histories. But, undoubtedly, there are also strong larger scale sodalities. One indication of large-scale divisions of the Neolithic East Mound is a large dip or trough across the middle, dividing it into two halves. While we have not as yet been able to identify any clear stylistic or cultural differences between the two parts of the mound at contemporary phases, the mound does seem to have developed in two halves (a small, low and late third prominence has also been provisionally identified in the eastern part of the East Mound: Hodder 1996). As well as these moiety-like divisions of the settlement, large-scale groupings of houses have begun to be identified. Mellaart had identified large areas of adjacent houses in some levels with no indication of groupings (e.g. Fig. 13.1). In upper levels he found some evidence of streets winding between houses. In recent research we have also begun to find alleyways or boundaries between sectors of the mound. In Figure 13.2, these edges or lines have been identified. Further research is needed on the surfaces in these alleyways to discern whether they were subject to trampling. Given that the alleyways are in places very narrow, it is possible that they were used solely for dumping refuse off the edges of roofs in settlement sectors. They may be edges and boundaries rather than lines of communication. Whatever their specific interpretation, they suggest perhaps clan or


lineage or some form of related sets of houses. There is little evidence that the larger scale sodalities were associated with specialisation of production. We shall see, however, that there are yet smaller groupings of houses that seem to have both social and economic implications. Small groups of perhaps three to six houses often seem to be linked in that they use a common main house (perhaps corresponding to Mellaarts shrines) for burial. There is also some evidence of small-scale specialisation of obsidian reduction and figurine manufacture or use in these main or dominant houses (see below). Overall, the evidence for the spatial organisation of atalhyk does not seem sufficiently complex and differentiated to argue for urbanism and the city. And yet the size of the site seems difficult to encompass within the term village. In this article I will use the term town in inverted commas, to suggest that there is no easy correspondence with our categories. In particular, atalhyk is characterized by the endless repetition of very similar house-like units. In reality, all there seems to be at the site are houses and rubbish (which is often used to fill up abandoned houses). If we want to understand how atalhyk worked as a town we seem to have to start with the individual buildings termed houses. It was the house that was the main social unit of production and reproduction. I want to start off by arguing that the house was an important focus of activities. If we can show that the house was an important locus of living,

Figure 13.1 The layout of buildings in Level VIB as excavated and planned by Mellaart.


Ian Hodder

Figure 13.2 The layout of buildings and possible alleyways (shaded) in an area of the north part of the East Mound scraped by the current project.

we can move on to explore how the daily practices of life in the house were mechanisms for socialization. It will be argued that the rules of society were built up from daily practices in houses (rather than arguing that the arrangements of the houses were simply impositions by and expressions of forms of power external to the house). The arrangement of repetitive practices within the house was, however, also embedded in a social focus on the construction of long-term memories. These latter seem to have served the interests of dominant groups in society.

The use of space inside buildings

Cross (in press) has noted overall quantitative differences in the densities of different types of material found inside and outside houses (in midden areas). For example, both faunal material and figurines have higher densities outside houses, as do ceramics. In general terms, the insides of buildings were kept remarkably clean. The floors were carefully swept and they are artefact-sparse. In contrast, the midden contexts are artefact-rich. Micromorphology (Matthews in press) found few traces of manufacturing activities inside houses. Given the severe winters experienced in the Konya Plain, it is likely that during the winters quite a few activities (which may have taken place on the roofs of houses) would have been moved into the house. These indoor activities included food preparation (hearths and ovens), and

obsidian reduction near hearths, as well as grease extraction and bead manufacture (Carter and Conolly in press; Hamilton in press; Russell and Martin in press). The core-tool or pice esquille is quite common in buildings, and use-wear analysis at Canhasan III has suggested that this is a woodworking tool (Carter and Conolly in press). Storage, burial, grinding (of ochre at least) also took place inside houses. There is abundant phytolith evidence (Rosen in press) of both the cooking and processing of cereals (in the form of primarily wheat husk phytoliths) in houses. But what did it mean to live in these houses? How much time did people spend in them, and what was it like? It is often said that the houses were dark inside. But an experimental house built at the site by Mira Stevanovi has shown that during the day so much light comes in from the ladder entry that the main rooms are quite bright. The white plastered walls were frequently renewed and often burnished and so they reflect light well. Even the side rooms receive some reflected light so that ones eyes get used to the relative dark in them and activities can be carried out there. We know that people knapped obsidian near the ladder entries in the main rooms. Indeed, the location of the obsidian caches and the nearby working of obsidian may be related to the need for a light source. But the rooms were probably smoky. This is clear from the layers of soot that are found on the plaster walls. The frequent (annual, seasonal and monthly Matthews

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk


Figure 13.3 Median densities of bone and chipped stone in different types of floor in the North Area at atalhyk.

in press) replastering of the walls may have been necessary to maintain the light reflection in the main rooms. Several of the individuals buried beneath the floors of houses who had carbon residues on their ribs (Andrews et al. in press) are older people, and most old people had these residues. The carbon on the ribs has been interpreted in terms of the layers of soot identified on the plaster walls and the lack of architectural evidence for good air draughts in the houses and in terms of the need to spend time in the houses over the harsh winters. The evidence can be interpreted in terms of the build-up of residues of an indoor life, for both men and women. So, certainly by their later years, people spent a good amount of time indoors. On the other hand, some young people and children are buried in houses in significant locations, including special neonate foundation deposits by doors and burial by hearths. So both the old and the young, as we might expect, have an especially close relationship with the house. Thus, as people lived their lives they spent part of it, especially when young and old, and especially in the winter, closely tied to the house. This immersing in the house provided an opportunity for socialisation. How was the house organised internally so as to socialize the inhabitants into social roles? Was the house used to create routines and structures in the town as a whole? It has long been recognized (Mellaart 1967) that there was much repetition in the use of space inside houses. For example, each house tends to have a main room (the internal walls of which have thicker layers of plaster) and a side room associated with storage and food preparation and with many fewer layers of plaster on the walls. Matthews (in press) has shown that the main room

in Building 5 had over 450 fine white silty clay plasters on the walls, whereas adjacent rooms were only plastered 34 times with orange and brown silt loam plasters. Hearths and ladder entrances are normally found in the south of main rooms in buildings, and art and sculpture are not usually found on these south walls (Mellaart 1967, figure 16). In the recent excavations we have found a strong associated pattern that somewhere near the hearth and ladder entry there is at least one obsidian cache beneath the floors. A strong associated pattern is that flint is rarely placed in these caches. We also see concentrations of basketry in southern parts of main rooms and in side rooms. Other repeated patterns are well known. The floors of the main rooms are usually divided into platforms, or areas of different height, and the higher of these have a white plaster (Matthews 1996). The different floor areas are often demarcated by raised edges. These differences may also relate to floor covering the white floors may have been more thickly covered so that no residues got through onto floors. In Building 1, phytolith evidence suggests different types of matting on the different platforms (Cessford in press a; Rosen in press). There is also a link to burial. The main burial platforms seem to be those with white laid plaster floors. Few burials occur beneath occupation floors (the dirtier floors with ash and small artefacts near ovens and hearths), although neonates may be buried here. Burials never contain pottery. There is a tendency for different categories of people to be buried under different platforms. For example, in Building 1 there are more young people buried beneath the north-west platform and more older individuals under


Ian Hodder (such as obsidian flakes) is in situ activity residue (Carter and Conolly in press). This claim is based on the refitting of flakes and on the close spatial association of obsidian reduction flakes with the obsidian caches from which the obsidian is assumed to have been taken to be worked. Certainly it remains highly likely that such obsidian in ashy deposits (perhaps rake-out) near hearths and ovens is often in situ, or very close to being in situ. But it is also possible that it has been swept from a nearby location. In situ bead production and grease extraction have also been claimed on occupation floors in the South Area, although again, the material found on these floors could have been swept a short distance from other areas in the building. But there are other reasons to question the evidence for repeated patterning of space within buildings. In fact there is much variation from the norms identified above. For example, there is much change through time in the internal organization of space within individual houses. Wholesale changes are made in the location of ovens and platforms in Buildings 5 and 1. In Building 2 the oven moves back and forth along the south wall, and similar sequences are seen in Buildings 18 and 23. In Building 17, a white plastered burial platform in the north-east, periodically painted with red ochre, was changed to a cooking area in Phase E, when ovens were constructed on the top of the platform (Farid in press). Later, in Phase B, the ovens were moved back to the more conventional south-west corner of the room. Field sections from the Mellaart excavations (Matthews 1996) show a shift in the use of space from domestic food preparation to a burial area. Phytolith evidence (Rosen in press) shows change in use of the central-east platform in Building 1 from red painted plaster with weed grass stem phytoliths, to an unpainted floor covered with a sedge mat. Detailed consideration of the artefact and microartefact patterning again shows that the expected patterns often do not occur. In specific phases and for particular categories of artefact sizes or artefact classes, there may be no clear differences between the densities of different types of floors. This variation is seen clearly in some of the heavy residue plots. For example, in the centralcentral area in Building 1 in Subphase B1.2B there are comparatively thick occupation deposits next to the raised central-east area suggesting this area was not kept as clean as it usually had been. Building 1 goes through a major reorganization of space in Phase B1.3, after a substantial fire. This major restructuring of space results in many changes, and yet this example is instructive. Despite the changes, some principles remain, such as the separation between hearth areas and cleaner, higher, whiter floors containing burials. In addition, the overall west-east axis is retained with the hearth in the south and west, and a major burial area continuing in the east. Examples such as this allow one to argue that despite all the changes that occur in the arrangement of activities

the central-east platform (Cessford in press a). The distribution of art and symbolism in the house also respects spatial divisions. Painting and sculpture are rarely found in the southern area of the house, and cattle heads with horns (bucrania) are most common on east and west walls. Vulture paintings only occur on north and east walls (Russell and Meece in press). Burial is most common beneath platforms against the north and east walls and since the vulture paintings also show headless corpses, a spatial link between vultures and death is suggested. But what of artefact patterning? We had no indication prior to the current excavations as to whether artefact distributions would also show repeated patterning within houses. The statistical integration of data (Cross in press) and heavy residue analysis (Cessford in press b) both identify such patterning. Artefact and micro-artefact patterning indicate repeated differences between densities of bone and obsidian in particular on floors of different types. Higher, whiter floors away from the ovens and hearths tend to have lower densities of material. Indeed, the floors near hearths and ovens are often termed occupation floors or ashy rake-outs because of their high density of artefacts and charcoal. Cross (in press) identifies higher densities of lithics on these occupation floors; an association between obsidian, ashy rake-out and hearths in the southern or south-eastern parts of main rooms in buildings has repeatedly been recognized. The distinction between laid floors and occupation floors is very striking in terms of lithic and faunal densities. The archaeobotanical evidence (Fairbairn and Near in press) has higher densities of botanical remains in occupation floors, and especially high values in the rakeout deposits (mainly in terms of wood charcoal). Chemical analysis of floor sediments has also identified clear differences between the floors and platforms in different parts of buildings (Middleton et al. in press). On the other hand, it is clear that much of the observed patterning in artefact densities in the floors at the site results from construction activities rather than use. Comparison of floor with wall plasters has demonstrated that there is a background noise of occupation material that gets incorporated into plaster (Cessford in press b). Thus, a proportion of the micro-artefacts in floors has not been trampled in through use but has been incorporated during construction. At the micromorphological level, thin lenses of sweepings or occupation debris can be identified on the dirty occupation floors. But these lenses are rare on other floors. In excavation, the floor layers are so numerous and so fine that we are forced to mix together on-floor lenses, if any such are present, with the floor make-up, which itself contains redeposited occupation material. In the case of the occupation floors, there is micromorphological evidence of lenses of organic material (Matthews in press). The nature of the material in such lenses has led to the assumption that the material here

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk in buildings, general tendencies tend to get repeated. What the patterning of artefacts and chemicals on floors does indicate is that there were clear general differences in floors. White, non-white laid, and occupation floors, general versus raised height floors, are all different though there is much variation through space and time. The normative differences occur even if there are many specific variations and even if we cannot often distinguish construction from use. There are clear normative patterns in the ways that the floors are arranged and covered. This patterning also relates to the locations of burial and painting, and to other activities such as the frequency of wall plastering and the location of obsidian caches. It can be argued that the complexity of internal arrangements of the houses at atalhyk is the apogee of a long period of development in the Near East and Anatolia. In the Levant a gradual process of internal division of houses into a diversity of functions has been identified in pre-pottery phases, culminating in PPNB (Byrd 1994). At ayn there is a long sequence of internal divisions of space following on from the early Round Building phase (tenth millennium cal BC) and culminating in the Cell Building phase in the mid-eighth millennium (zdoan 1999). Cafer Hyk also shows a gradual shift to larger pluricelled buildings in the period from 8300 to 7300 cal BC (Cauvin et al. 1999). The recent discovery of possible round houses at the base of A kl Hyk suggests that a long-term sequence stretching back into the early ninth millennium in central Anatolia may again demonstrate a gradual process of internal differentiation of buildings and a drawing of a wider range of functions into the house. Certainly, in comparison to atalhyk, the houses in the main sequence at Aikli Hyk are relatively undifferentiated, although there is quite a variety of one-, two- and threeroomed houses (Esin and Harmankaya 1999). But by the time of atalhyk, the houses have become the main focus for burial, storage and a range of productive tasks, and there is elaborate internal division of space. But this is not just a matter of increasing internal complexity. It seems that the house at atalhyk takes over many of the roles that were earlier associated with the community at large. Burial is less strongly associated with the house in earlier sites in Anatolia and the Near East; some burial occurs between buildings or in special buildings as at ayn. But at atalhyk burial rarely occurs outside the house. Symbolism and ritual are also taken from public buildings (at Akl Hyk, ayn, Gbekli Tepe and elsewhere) and centred in the house at atalhyk. Food preparation and many productive activities that earlier had often taken place in public, open areas, become concentrated in the atalhyk house. The house was an important location for socialisation into roles and behaviours at atalhyk. But in the process, it can be argued that the house unit grew at the expense of the community at large. In the upper levels at the site there is some evidence of increased specialization


of production and of some fragmentation of strong community-wide rules. House units may come to act more independently, and the early cohesiveness of society begins to be eroded (Dring 2001). Thus it is possible to argue that at atalhyk, the overall structuring of the town was achieved through routines of daily practice within the house. The nondiscursive repetitions had a social dimension as they reinforced distinctions between young and old and established expected etiquette and acceptable social behaviour. Many of these habituated practices seem to be common to the town as a whole. But there were also practices within the houses which established specific sets of memories that were consciously passed down. These commemorative memories (Connerton 1989) again asserted the house as the dominant mode of social reproduction while at the same time providing the basis for the dominant position of certain houses. Here we turn to the vertical anatomy of the tell (e.g. see Fig. 13.4), where house is built on house over many centuries.

The construction of social memories

One of the most basic aspects of the Neolithic revolution was the massive increase in the amount of enduring materiality that came to surround people. From the settlement mounds themselves, to the houses within them, to the pottery and groundstone objects, people became encumbered in a world they had made. As noted by Woodburn (1980), immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies live in the present and have very little relationship with the past. But by the time of the delayed return systems of the Neolithic, people lived in a material world embedded in the past. The point here is not just that all this materiality allowed more symbolic storage (Donald 1991). It is not just that all these objects acted as mnemonics for more complex cognitive memory. It is rather that the materiality created memory. As MerleauPonty (1962) argues, it is not that we have memory and then just use objects to help us remember. Rather, our memory is indistinguishable from the object world. Memory is only possible when attached to an object, or a name. Objects do not just represent or act as signs for memory. As in the case of smells, the object/memory can come upon us, can surprise us. The power of objects in social processes is often linked to this apparent link between object and memory. The object may appear to hold the memory. It creates a memory within us. In the Neolithic, the increased constructed materiality of life provided a whole new arena for social manipulation and engagement the material past and the memories embedded within the objects of daily and ritual life. The information that is stored in a modern archive is maintained and controlled within specific institutions and systems of power. The archive is not a full and even record. It represents partially. The mound at atalhyk can be seen as a vast archive of highly selected memories.


Ian Hodder

Figure 13.4 Section through the north facing section in the South Area at atalhyk (Farid in press).

Some events were to be institutionally forgotten stored away through the processes of infilling and abandonment. Certain things (cattle scapulae, some obsidian points, some burials) were to be left and filled in and not seen again. But other things were kept as a living archive that could be used and recirculated. These things included the heads of some people and of some animals, and some obsidian. There was a politics of memory, embedded within a specific social system, that determined what was to be retained in an archive in such a way that it could be consulted, and what was hidden away, locked up in an archive so that it could no longer be seen. What is retained in different forms of archive is related to hegemonic practices and their subversion. I have already begun to talk of different types of memory (and forgetting). Below, I shall use extensively the distinction referred to above between habituation (embodied, routinised) and commemorative memory. Both these types of memory are thoroughly social and embedded within the politics of memory. In the former case, ritual and daily acts may become routinised and codified but there is no specific memory of events and histories. There may be community-wide memories embedded in daily practices and rules (everyone knows that the hearth is in the south of the house) without there being any specific memory of an individual house in which the hearth was in the south. Commemorative memory involves the selection from events and the construction of a link to a specific event or person. I will argue that such memories are seen at atalhyk in foundation or retrieval deposits, or in paintings which

refer to the past. It is important to distinguish commemorative acts from habituated behaviour. So in distinguishing commemorative from habituated memory the onus is on us to demonstrate specificity of memory construction. It will be argued here that specific archives of memory were constructed within specific houses or groups of houses. Of course, there were wider myths and histories that circulated within the community and region (for example, the leopard theme is found in a number of houses, and the bull and vulture themes occur widely in the Neolithic of the Near East and Anatolia for further examples, see below). But at atalhyk the politics of commemorative memory, like the politics of habituated practices, were primarily house-based. The notion that the house can act as a site for social memory has been widely recognized ethnographically and archaeologically (e.g. Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995; Joyce and Gillespie 2000). In Lvi-Strausss (1982, 174) definition of house societies we see a move away from kinship classificatory models towards the house as a corporate body holding an estate which reproduces itself through the transmission of its name, goods and titles. Particularly in more recent research (Carsten and Hugh-Jones 1995; Joyce and Gillespie 2000), the materiality of the house, its practices and heirlooms are foregrounded. The transmission of houses and of objects kept in houses, forges social memory and constitutes social units (Joyce 2000). In Polynesia, for example, an important component of the reproduction of the corporate group is the burial of ancestors and the transformation of houses into ritual temples (Kirch 2000).

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk The continuity in the layout of houses through time in the Neolithic tells of the Levant and south-eastern Anatolia has been identified as relevant to the discussion of social memory by Kuijt (2001; see also Banning and Byrd 1987; Kirkbride 1968, 94). The construction of social memory has also been related to the widespread Near Eastern practice of removing and circulating skulls, including the plastering of facial features (Cauvin 1994; Garfinkel 1994; Goring-Morris 2000; Kuijt 2001; Stordeur et al. 1977). The specific social context of this activity seems to vary between individualized and collective memory construction (Kuijt 2001) but at atalhyk the burial and manipulation of bodies and skulls seems largely house-based. Clearly not all mortuary ritual is about ancestral cults (Morris 1991), and ancestral rituals may refer to both generic and specific ancestors (Whitley 2002), but at atalhyk there are grounds for arguing for a predominantly house-based process of memory construction and ancestor affiliation (although the role of dominant houses will be discussed below).


Prior to atalhyk
Much of the material culture at atalhyk carries with it the habituated and commemorative memories of ways of doing things over millennia in Anatolia and the Near East. There are general similarities in forms of house construction, use of hard lime floors in the earliest levels at atalhyk, and in pottery forms and obsidian types that show both influences from the Near East and from regional traditions in Central Anatolia (Gerard and Thissen 2002; zdoan 2002). It is also possible now to say that many of the most important symbols at atalhyk have a widespread and long-term ancestry. The continuities can be shown to be more specific than the general emphasis on the bull and the woman identified by Cauvin (1994). Thus, similar vulture images are found at Jerf-El-Ahmar (Stordeur et al. 1977), and parallels can be drawn with the concentration of raptor wings at Zawi Chemi Shanidar (Dunand 1973). The supposed Mother Goddess reliefs at atalhyk with upraised arms and legs are now most closely prefigured in relief stone carvings from Gbekli Tepe (Schmidt 2001). Indeed, there is a whole array of real and mythical dangerous animals from Nevali ori, Gbekli Tepe and ayn that parallel those from atalhyk (zdo an and Bagelen 1999). Whether these similarities can be put down to a PPNB expansion of people (Cauvin 1994) is not of immediate concern here. Rather, it is important to note the enormous expanses of time over which such symbols seem to stay stable. Of course, we have long been aware of the slow rate of change of material culture in the Upper Palaeolithic of Europe, where types of stone tool, and even types of cave painting, stay relatively unchanged over many millennia. While the rate of change may speed up in the Neolithic of the Near East and Anatolia, it remains very slow. In central Anatolia, Akl Hyk was

occupied over long periods of time and there is remarkable continuity in its organization. The dated deep sounding sequence, which is over six meters deep, covers 250530 years (68% probability) or 180600 years (95% probability), excluding level 3 which is undated. (Analysis of dating was undertaken by Cessford in press d using BCal (Buck et al. 1999)). Through this time period there are six rebuildings of a house in exactly the same location and with the same location of hearths and midden (Esin and Harmanakaya 1999, figure 9). In my view, these remarkable degrees of continuity stem largely from two factors. First, there is the routinisation or habituation of practices as noted in the first part of this paper. Second, there is a shift from myth to history within commemorative memory. Despite many difficulties, it is possible to argue for a general distinction between myth and history as forms of commemorative memory. There is a continuum from one to the other, but myth can be defined as more timeless (except for a distinction between then and now). There are of course origin myths but these may not create a specific link into history and the present. History involves a more complex interconnection of events leading into the present. Myth is used politically in the present, but its otherness, the lack of historical connection between past and present, buffers it from change. Once myth becomes historical (or history emerges within myth), there is more potential for the manipulation of the past. It seems possible to argue that the vulture, bull, upraised arm figure, and so on, were all involved in various versions of generalized myths that circulated very widely in Anatolia and the Near East prior to atalhyk. At atalhyk these same ideas and forms were taken up and retold and reset. They became appropriated into houses, whereas in sites like Neval ori, Gbekli Tepe and ayn they had been associated with communal ritual buildings. What distinguishes atalhyk in contrast to these sites and to A kl Hyk is the concentration of symbolism in the house. Here the myths and symbolism were related to ancestors of that particular house, and thus to the histories of particular families and clans. I will argue that here at atalhyk generalized myth was appropriated by the house and transformed into history. As this happened, the rate of change of symbols and meanings began to increase as social groups competed with each other in their interpretation of myth/ history. It is, of course, true that burials occur in houses at Akl Hyk, but probably not to the degree found at atalhyk (Esin and Harmankaya 1999), and in any case there is little evidence of symbolism in the Aikli Hyk houses. It was at atalhyk that symbolism and myth were so closely associated with the house and its ancestors.

The house in the politics of memory at atalhyk

Everyday acts of life in a tell such as atalhyk would have involved an awareness and knowledge of the past.


Ian Hodder burning events, would all have marked those events more clearly in memory. At least some of the burning of houses at atalhyk seems an intentional part of abandonment behaviour. The violent smashing of bins and oven of Building 5, the events associated with the burning of lentils etc in Building 1, the deposition of a crane wing and other material in Space 73 all these are memorable performances. It was in the house that there was most concern to control the transmission of memory and to limit shifts in memories. There are examples of the repetition of painting and relief sculpture from phase to phase and from level to level within buildings. Sometimes these seem too specific to be accidental products of site-wide preferences. For example, pairs of relief leopards are found in five buildings (Russell and Meece in press), but in two cases, VII.44 and VI.44, they occur immediately above each other. This seems like a clear case of commemorative memory. The role of the house in the construction and maintenance of memory is also seen in the circulation and use of various types of head. Not only the heads of wild animals, but also of people and figurines, were used as part of the construction of specific historical memories. In Building 2, there is evidence of removal of something large from the west wall of the main room, possibly linked to a wild cattle horn found on the floor (Farid in press). Mellaart (1967) records a frequent pattern of the destruction of the west walls of main rooms in order to remove sculpture. The heads and feet/hands of the relief figures with upraised arms have always been removed before the infilling of buildings. We do not know whether such heads were reused in later buildings, or were destroyed. Either way, their removal suggests a concern with long-term memories. In Building 1 there is clear evidence that a pit was dug down in order to retrieve sculpture (perhaps a plastered cattle skull?) from the west wall after the building had been abandoned and filled in, and after intermediary phases of occupation and infilling (Fig. 13.5). Obsidian and bone points were left as offerings in place of this retrieval. Similar depositions were made in a retrieval pit immediately below in Building 5. Human heads were removed from selected individuals, and reused in foundation and abandonment deposits to commemorate the start and the end of the use of a building. In the recent excavations, human skulls were found in foundation deposits in Building 17 and in retrieval pits in Building 1. There seems to be some special link between these skull deposits and the upright structural timbers of the house. In Buildings 1 and 6, the head had been carefully removed from the partly decayed and buried bodies of adult males. In several ways these individuals had been treated in distinctive ways other than the head removal. The removal of human heads is shown in some of the wall art, and it may be associated with people of special status (elders, ritual leaders, and

Building new houses would have involved a knowledge of the anatomy of the tell. For example, Farid (in press) notes that there were continual problems regarding the west wall of Space 105. Perhaps because the wall was free standing it kept slumping. The problems were addressed by the construction of a new wall F.56 on its eastern side bonded to a southern wall F.78. Probably to avoid future collapse, the new wall was built in a large foundation trench cut through the Level VII and VIII midden and a Level VIII wall F.63, reaching down to the top of the Level IX wall of Building 2. Reaching down to the Level IX wall appears as a deliberate act based on memory of previous buildings. In general terms, the life-cycle of houses shows that the politics of commemorative memory maintenance at atalhyk was primarily handled at the house level. The enormous emphasis placed on scouring out bins, filling-in ovens, cleaning floors, dismantling timbers and filling-in rooms all suggests elaborate abandonment processes. It is important to recognise that these abandonment processes may have been set within a thoroughly practical logic. Posts were probably removed so that they could be reused in a later house. Scouring of bin floors, house floors and mouldings may have occurred so that the fine plaster could be reused in later houses, especially if some forms of lime-rich muds and clays were difficult to obtain. Even the removal of hands, feet and heads from relief sculptures prior to infill may have had the same purpose to provide high quality plaster for the next phase of building. The intentional filling of an oven (rather than knocking it down) may have occurred because the fired oven helped to provide a firm base for the building which ensued. While all this is true, the degree of cleaning up that occurs is remarkable, and the deliberate placing of artefacts (such as the upturned grinding stone in Building 1s abandonment) is less easy to explain fully in this way. In a number of cases foundation deposits have been discovered (e.g. Building 1 neonate burials, and possibly beneath the wall packing or buttressing in Building 5, Space 156), including ritual and feasting activities associated with building construction and abandonment. Even if a practical logic is seen as dominant, the practices themselves mark the moments of closure and foundation. In the acting out of these practices, memories are constructed. Plaster and timber are taken from one house to another. The focus on reuse of structural elements establishes links through time. Certainly it is possible that other events, such as large-scale feasting, involved the management of stories and memories at scales beyond the house, but it is reuse practices at the house scale that dominate the evidence of memory construction. Within each house the precise location of obsidian hoards had to be remembered so that retrieval could occur. And each retrieval would recall earlier retrievals or the original burial of the hoard. The performance of the foundation and abandonment rituals, as well as the performance of destruction or

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk


Figure 13.5 Pit 17 dug down to retrieve sculpture from the west wall of the main room in Building 1.

so on). The removal of their heads suggests some attempt to construct historical links between social groups and specific ancestors. Memory is perhaps being used here to construct links through time in houses and groups of houses. Figurines are often found with the heads missing, including the famous Mother Goddess. This pattern could easily be the result of normal breakage processes, since the neck is often the weakest part of a figurine. But in an example from Building 3, there is evidence of detachable heads, as have been found at Hyek (zdoan and Bagelen 1999). In some cases at atalhyk there is evidence of special deposition of broken heads. In Building 17 in the south-east corner of the main room, a hearth was found which had been rebuilt several times. In the sealing deposit of one of the hearths a broken figurine was placed with both head and torso present, but separate. The deliberateness of this act is reinforced by the faunal remains from the same unit (locus) which suggest a single event consumption of a young sheep. Two sub-phases of hearth reconstruction later, a broken figurine head was again deposited directly over the earlier example. This head was very similar in appearance and size to the earlier one, and both were quite different from other figurines found at the site. This evidence of

closure activities strongly suggests specific house-based memories.

Dominant houses in the politics of memory

As already noted, some houses seem more elaborate than others. These more elaborate houses were termed shrines by Mellaart (1967). More recently Ritchey (1996) and Dring (2001) have quantified the degree of elaboration of buildings in each level based on numbers of internal spaces, moldings, basins, pillars, posts, benches and platforms. Gradual clines of variation from less to more elaborate buildings can be seen at all levels, and the more elaborate buildings are interspersed spatially amongst less elaborate buildings. Despite the fact that all buildings are houses with a full range of domestic activity, storage and domestic production, there is some indication that fine bifacially flaked obsidian points are concentrated in the more elaborate buildings (Conolly 1996). The fact that obsidian cores too concentrate in the more elaborate buildings suggests some preferential access to or involvement in obsidian. The largest numbers of figurines come from very elaborate buildings (Hamilton 1996). But the notion that the more elaborate buildings were in some sense dominant is best supported by the evidence of burial. In the case of Building 1, 62 individuals were interred in


Ian Hodder are replaced through many levels. The current project has so far only excavated one building (Building 5) below Building 1 which has 62 burials, but deeper sequences were excavated by Mellaart. From his data, the two buildings with most burials (Shrines 10 and 31, see above) in Levels VI and VII, were both rebuilt through 5 levels (IX to VIA). Other buildings with many burials (Shrines 1, 7, 8 in Level VI) also continued across 3-5 levels. Adjacent, less elaborate, buildings with few or no burials (such as Building 2 by Shrine 10) are not replaced from level to level. The floors of Shrine 10 (Buildings 17 and 6) in Levels VIII and IX are lower than surrounding buildings, suggesting that this more elaborate building may have been modified and rebuilt at a slower rate than surrounding buildings. Thus domestic houses used for large numbers of burials, and those houses which are more elaborate, may have been more closely tied to continuity and the preservation of a collective memory. All this indicates that the politics of memory at atalhyk were primarily house-based and perhaps that dominant houses invested particularly in the construction and control of social memory. The construction of longer term memories, both specific and general, would have been the basis for the social, ritual and economic practices involved in delayed return societies. The social memories helped create the repetition in which daily practices were embedded.

the structure during its construction and occupation. Of these at least 30 individuals must have been alive at the same point in time. This is too many to have actually lived in the building on a day-to-day basis, as it is unlikely that this exceeded 10 individuals based on the size of the building and probable sleeping arrangements. This suggests that Building 1 acted as a focus for burial for a number of buildings. Building 1 could be defined as elaborate in terms of its bucrania, paintings, posts, numbers of platforms, and moldings. Some elaborate buildings excavated by Mellaart in the 1960s also contained large numbers of burials, although the records are imprecise (Hamilton 1996). The two buildings with most burials from the 1960s are Shrine 10 which had 32 skeletons in Level VI, and Shrine 31 which had 58 skeletons in Level VII. Shrine 10 occurs second in terms of Ritcheys (1996) ranking of 59 buildings in Level VIB. Shrine 31 is the second most elaborate building in his ranking of the 45 buildings in Level VII. At the other end of the scale, there are non-elaborate buildings such as Building 2 which have no burials. Overall it seems probable that certain buildings became preferential sites for burial. In this way they had a dominance in relation to access to previous lineage members. There is some evidence that the dominant houses were more invested in the regulation of repetitive bodily practices and thus of habituated memories. The more elaborate buildings such as Building 17 (this is a renumbering of Mellaarts Shrine 10 in Level IX, the first floor level that could be excavated in this building by the present project) placed more emphasis on the maintenance of the internal floor scheme identified in this paper. The distinctiveness of platforms and the degree of separation between floors with cleaner plasters and those with high densities of charcoal and hearth sweepings seem stronger in more elaborate buildings with burials, such as Buildings 1, 3 and 17 than in smaller buildings without burials such as Building 2 (and perhaps 18, 23 and 5). In Building 2, the ridges between the area near the oven and the more northerly whiter floors are ill-defined and there is overspill of charcoal-rich deposits across the ridges. This type of scuffing is less common in the more elaborate houses. But the degree of dominance is slight, and could even be reversed if one considered alternate criteria. Building 2 for instance had several caches of chipped stone deposited in its foundations, totalling over 50 pieces. What was the role of the dominant, more elaborate houses in the politics of commemorative memory? There is some evidence that these dominant houses were particular guardians of the archive of memories, alongside their particular investment in the regulation of daily practices. We have already seen that they have concentrations of burials, suggesting that the archive of lineal and/or affinal relations was constructed preferentially in the dominant house. There is also a clear link between houses with large numbers of burials and houses which

I have argued in this paper that habituated and commemorative memory are key to the use and reuse of buildings at atalhyk. The politics of memory at atalhyk are primarily house-based, although there are also supra-house and individualised scales of memory. At the house level, there are numerous events, from the most practical (like setting later walls on more secure earlier walls) to the most ritual (such as foundation and abandonment ceremonies) that lead to the construction of memories. People at atalhyk used widespread myths, but they also appropriated these myths into individual house-based groups. A historical memory became more important in the sense that specific sets of links were made in the house from present occupants to past ancestors. The length of these memories archived and institutionalized within the house is difficult to judge, but there is much evidence that people at atalhyk remembered what had happened in houses in phases earlier than the immediately preceding one. One function of the construction of long-term memories may have been to create genealogical links to ancestors buried beneath floors. Memory could be used to construct a hierarchy of kin relations. But long-term memory may also have been used to refer to debts and alliances, to refer to the ritual power of earlier elders, to awaken memories of great feasts or hunts. Whatever the

The spatial-temporal organization of the early town at atalhyk specific function of the construction of a continuous historical memory, it could have had the effect of holding the house-based group together in the delay between investment of labour and its returns. Perhaps more important, the construction of memories was probably tied into the transmission of rights. In house-based societies the handing down of rights to build and use a house in a particular place, the handing down of heirlooms, ancestral objects and bones all guaranteed rights of access to people, things and land associated with the house. More elaborate buildings invested more in the maintenance of memory in that they show more evidence of continuity and burial. This suggests that differences in power were closely related to the ability to construct longterm memories. But can we see subaltern or contested memories, or is memory at atalhyk archived so effectively that any alternative to the dominant construction of memory is made invisible? In terms of habituated memory we see kicking and scuffing a bit in Building 1, as the taken-for-granted ways of cleaning and doing things in the houses are transgressed in however minor a way. In terms of commemorative memory, perhaps the less accomplished wall painting designs found in the smaller Building 2 adjacent to Shrine 10 express a different voice. Perhaps the best examples of a challenge to the house-based control of memory are seen in the upper levels of the site when forms of imagery appear in non-house contexts. By this I mean that symbols that had earlier only been used within the house come to be used in media that can be exchanged between houses. First, stamp seals take the wall designs into a new mobile context, and then, right at the end of the occupation of the East mound and in the following Chalcolithic West mound, the designs that had graced walls within houses are found on pottery. In fact these later walls seem not to be painted except perhaps in one-colour washes. These changes suggest a gradual wresting of memory away from the house. The symbols that refer to myth and history now come to be used to create alliances and exchange relationships between houses. From all the above, it is difficult to deduce an urban structure with specialized and differentiated economic, political and social functions. Rather the effect of town (a large agglomeration of people living packed against each other) is produced by the construction of memories and the transmission of rights and properties in a smallscale house-based society. As people wish to gain access to rights and resources of the house they need to become part of the construction of its memories. They need to be physically associated with its fabric, its burials, its symbolism, its history. We have little notion of how the site as a whole grew. My hypothesis for the moment is that houses clustered around dominant or ancestral houses that physical and spatial propinquity ensured access to rights and resources. As the house grew, expanded and fissioned, living near ancestral homes remained sig-


nificant. The end result was a dense packing of houses as people used up every available nook and cranny in order to be located close to the ancestral home and to participate in the transmission of its physical rights. Co-presence and co-history here equated with collective membership. The town and the anatomy of the tell were by-products of this assertion of rights through repetition and memory construction in the house.

I am as ever deeply indebted to all members of the atalhyk project on whose work this paper is based. In particular I wish to thank Shahina Farid for all her support and direction. I am also thankful to the institutions and sponsors that provide the means and foundation for our work, in particular The British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the McDonald Institute, University College London, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley, Poznan University, Boeing and Kocbank.

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