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Çatalhöyük Mural: The Earliest Representation of a Volcanic Eruption?
In the early 1960s, archaeologist James Mellaart uncovered a mural at Çatalhöyük, the world’s largest and best-preserved Neolithic site, which he interpreted to represent a volcanic eruption. Fifty years later, scientific tests done on pumice at the nearby volcano Hasan Dağ confirm that there was, in fact, an eruption between 9,500 and 8,400 years ago—a timespan including the era that the mural was likely painted.
Mural - Eruption - New - Evidence - Eruption
This Çatalhöyük mural is thought to represent a nearby volcanic eruption. New scientific evidence confirms a contemporaneous eruption at nearby Hasan Dağ.
After James Mellaart discovered the Çatalhöyük mound in central Turkey in 1958, his excavations revealed an extensive Neolithic village featuring dozens of wall paintings and statuettes showing hunting scenes, giant bulls, leopards, vultures, female breasts and so-called “goddesses.” In an Archaeology Odyssey article, Michael Balter, author of The Goddess and the Bull, wrote: “One painting, he [Mellart] thought, seemed to represent a town plan of the Neolithic village, with an erupting volcano looming overhead.”
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Over the past two decades, prominent excavations at Çatalhöyük, under the direction of Stanford archaeologist Ian Hodder, have greatly expanded our image of the Neolithic proto-city. A study conducted by volcanologist Axel Schmitt of the University of California in Los Angeles returned attention to Mellaart’s volcanic mural. The ochre-painted mural has been given a range of classifications over the years; those that see the peaks of Hasan Dağ looming over a Neolithic village have described it as the world’s oldest extant landscape scene or...
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