Envisioning Çatalhöyük

Going to the Society for American Archaeology‘s 2013 annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii? If you are, and can tear yourself away from the beach, you should check out the “Envisioning Çatalhöyük” poster session.  The session takes place Thursday morning, April 4th, starting at 8 am. It is organized by Josh Sadvari (Ohio State University), James Stuart Taylor (The University of York), and me (Killackey Illustration and Design).

The session abstract:

“Over the last 20 years, the Çatalhöyük Research Project in Turkey has developed into a large-scale, interdisciplinary research endeavor featuring hundreds of different excavators and specialists from around the world who connect with, conceptualize, and envision the site in different ways.  In association with the ‘Assembling Çatalhöyük’ paper symposium, this poster session will showcase, in a visual format, the work of those excavators and specialists who are tasked with re-assembling this Neolithic community and the lives of its past inhabitants through the site’s physical deconstruction.  The sheer size of the project and the varied theoretical perspectives of its many researchers stimulate the building of both conflict and consensus as diverse datasets are analyzed and interpreted.  Key among the factors required for resolving such conflicts and constructing cogent narratives is collaboration among different excavation and specialist teams.  Collaborative efforts that facilitate our ability to envision Çatalhöyük’s past as well as its future, including methods developed for recording and preserving data, practices employed in the conservation of the site itself, analyses based on the convergence of a variety of specialist datasets, and techniques utilized for visualizing and disseminating information to the wider archaeological and public communities, are the focus of this symposium.”

I’m presenting one poster, “Drawings and Dialogues: Illustrating Landscape at Çatalhöyük” and my illustrations are part of another poster presented by Milena Vasic (Free University of Berlin), “Adornment at Çatalhöyük”. Here are the abstracts.

Drawings and Dialogues: Illustrating Landscape at Çatalhöyük:

“This poster presents the process of illustrating the landscape surrounding the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. The reconstruction is the result of the site’s illustrator, geoarchaeologist, and archaeobotanists collaborating from 2010 to 2012. Most people only see an archaeological reconstruction in its final form, presented in a publication or in a museum display. While a completed reconstruction serves a role in visually transmitting ideas to academic and public audiences, the process of visualizing can be just as valuable. The reconstruction starts as a partially formed image in the mind of the archaeologist and through a series of drawings and dialogues becomes increasingly solid and detailed. This process provides a space in which to explore and test hypotheses, helping to flesh out ideas, uncover contradictions, and identify gaps in knowledge. At the same time, the illustration process is one of elimination, the whittling down of alternative hypothesizes and making concrete one of many options. By presenting the entire process here, the viewer can see the series of decisions that lead to this final image of Çatalhöyük’s Neolithic landscape.”

Adornment at Çatalhöyük:

“Increased material exploitation is a phenomenon seen during the Near Eastern Neolithic, including the Neolithic occupation of Çatalhöyük. The intensified production and use of items of personal adornment are some of the manifestations of various shifts witnessed during this period, indicative of the increased concern with external display and individual and communal identities. The aim of this poster is to reconstruct the external display of Çatalhöyük inhabitants by looking at the evidence for adornment across different media. Mellaart`s excavations and the current Çatalhöyük Research Project yielded more than 25,000 beads made of shell, stone, copper, wood, bone, and clay, as well as other ornaments such as pins, collars, and armbands. Furthermore, textiles and traces of leather pouches have been found in several burials, as well as pigments that may have been used for colouring the textiles and for body painting. Additionally, some of the wall paintings and figurines depict hairstyles and attire. Not only does Çatalhöyük contain an abundance of ornaments and their representation, but there are also a number of inhumations containing these items in primary contexts, making this assemblage an ideal dataset for studying Neolithic external display. This data is summarized here through infographics and reconstruction illustrations.”

The complete list of “Envisioning Çatalhöyük” poster presenters:

Grant Cox and Graeme Earl; Lindsay Der; Lisa Guerre; Scott Haddow, Christopher Knüsel, Joshua Sadvari, Nicolò Dell’Unto and Maurizio Forte; Justine Issavi, Maurizio Forte, Nicolo Dell’Unto and Nicola Lercari; Kathryn Killackey; Ashley Lingle; Camilla Mazzucato; Allison Mickel; Sharmini Pitter, Nerissa Russell, Ian Hodder and Richard P. Evershed; James Taylor; Milena Vasic and Kathryn Killackey.

You can see the SAA’s 2013 Annual Meeting preliminary program here.

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