Monday, January 09, 2006

Hasan Dag and Catal Huyuk

Steve's post last week on Turkish Landscapes had a photo of a volcano named Hasan Dag that he traveled past on his trip. The following is a guest post on Hasan Dag and a nearby archaeological site from Janet Jones, an archaeologist and classics professor, who was on the trip with Steve:

Everytime I see the mountain I can't help but think of this extraordinary wall painting from Catal Hoyuk, the famous Neolithic farming village in the Konya plain not far from Hasan Dag. The painting which dates to ca. 6000 BCE was uncovered in 1963 by James Mellaart. Some would call this the earliest map. According to Mellaart it shows a plan of Catal Hoyuk with an erupting Hasan Dag (which could be seen from Catal Hoyuk) behind. Such local volcanic mountains were an important source of obsidian, an important trade material used for tools, weapons, jewelry, etc.

This illustration is taken from the the catalogue of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara:

Here's a view taken from the internet showing the distinctive double peak.
It's hard to miss the likeness:

Update from Steve: Reid found this site with material on Catal Hoyuk, but I found this comment amusing:

"The contours of the volcano are breast-like and the overall shape of the volcano closely matches schematized "bison-woman" paleolithic designs and other goddess representations; it looks distinctly like a body, much more so than like a mountain".

Uuhh-- maybe. But don't you get the idea that the writer has never actually seen this particular mountain?


Voracious Reader said...

The whole mountains are like breast metaphor has been over played.

For proof try searching for poems that liken mountains to breasts...there are far too many.

Linda said...

Hi Stephen,
It looks to me like the painting found at Catal Huyuk (the earliest known landscape) was painted by a UFO. Look at the little squares below the volcano. That is not normal. Who did that?

Anonymous said...

It's not a volcano at all - the 1960's interpretations of lots of the art at the site has been discredited. See article at
for a better explanation.

Bill Eichman said...

No, I had never seen the mountain, only pictures, much like the one you showed, which is a nice one, tho different from the ones I used as reference back in the day. I took the comment comparing the mountain to female body shapes prety much directly from Mellaart, altho I did add the bison-woman shape comparison from late paleo and neo cave art myself. I see the likeness - don't you? All in the eye of the beholder I suppose.

You don't see female body shapes in the mountain photo? Or in the famous painting?

Bill Eichman said...

Note to DavidP - yes, I was largely persuaded by Meece's article too - I thought I had added a link to it to my old Catal Huyuk piece, but can't recall if I actually did, I rarely get around to updating old things like that. The Meece article does contain the photo I used as my reference to the twin peaks of the volcanos, the source of teh obsidian, tho - and it;s a stiking photo.

However, in archaeology, one article doesn't technically prove or disprove anything, espeically something as subjective as wall decoration interpretations, especially when the art is so degraded. Still, I thought Meece's piece was excellent, even if it did 'disprove' the claim of the world's oldest landscape image, which one has to admit is a bit sad.

Here is a link to Meece - good images, and, as I said, the famous photo I looked at for the breast and bison woman comparisons -

Bill Eichman said...

If you will permit me - this is the primary photo I was using as source material for Hasan Dag - the twin peaks of the volcano are light and in the far background - Meece contains a map showing the location of catal huyuk (yes I know I still use the old spelling, it's an affectation, I have a fondness for it) and the camera POV - Mellaart took the photo -