History of Settlement

Lasting for over 1100 years, Neolithic Çatalhöyük was not a homogeneus unit. A major distinction can be made between the Early Ceramic Neolithic (7100-6400 BC), and the Late Ceramic Neolithic (6400-5950 BC). The research demonstrated that these two periods differ from each other in terms of architecture, settlement form and material culture traditions.

Early Neolithic

In the Early Ceramic Neolithic, the Çatalhöyük settlement was composed of mudbrick houses densely packed together. It had no streets and the houses had a roof access. Houses were rectangular, attached to each other, measuring ca. 25m2. The walls were continuosly replastered and often painted. Buildings had a great degree of continuity, being rebuilt a number of times on the same location. They contained a wide range of features including wall paintings, reliefs, and installations made of cattle horns and animal body parts. 

The wall paintings included zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, and geometric themes. Zoomorphic wall paintings were depictions of large mammals (e.g. bulls, equids, deers) and representations of birds. Anthropomorphic wall paintings included depictions of both males and females. Geometric images included a wide range of individual geometric figures: triangles, lozenges, but foremost: the handprint motif. Reliefs comprised representations of bodies of animals or heads of animals moulded in clay on the houses walls. Those reliefs were often plastered and painted, they often had form of the so-called splayed figures with upraised arms and legs. Another common image was a pair of leopards, with heads turned to each other.

People were buried inside the houses, beneath platforms and floors. Over 600 burials have been excavated, most of them were children burials. Neonates were often buried in baskets. The majority were primary single graves, but multiple burials were also known. The body was usually placed on its side in a flexed position. The common practice was skull retrieval and circulation. The skulls were sometimes plastered and painted. Grave goods were rare and they seem to occur more often in infant burials.

Late Neolithic

In the Late Neolithic brought about significant changes in different domains of the local community. These comprised settlement layout, site architecture, burial practices, procurement of raw material, material culture technology, etc. Among major forms of houses were (i) small multi-roomed houses with standing walls and no distinct floors; (ii) multi-roomed dwelling structures with courtyards, and (iii) light shelters with large open spaces. They also lacked intramural burials, which were replaced by a special burial architecture.


The Chalcolithic settlement on the West Mound displays densely clustered architecture with only small external midden area. In total 11 buildings were identified. The houses comprised a series of small, cell-like spaces, probably basements used for storage and working areas below a larger central 'living room' to be assumed to be on the first floor. They had thick walls and large internal buttresses, which probably supported light upper storeys. There is lack of internal furnishing, such as platforms and fire installations, as well as decorative architectural elements such as bucrania or wall paintings. The red paint in Building 78 indicates a possibility that the symbolic elaboration might have been present in the unpreserved upper stories. Intra-mural burials, which were common on the East Mound in the Neolithic were absent at Çatalhöyük West.

All visual materials contained on this website are the property of Çatalhöyük Research Project
Poznañ Archaeological Expedition at Çatalhöyük, Adam Mickiewicz University
ul. Uniwersytetu Poznañskiego 7, 61-614 Poznañ, Poland