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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The City at the Center of the Ancient World is catal huyuk Ancient cities, as we find them today, are not impressive sights. All that remains of Catal Huyuk (Chat-al Hoo-yook), the first city, is a gullied, pitted mound, floating in a rolling plain of wheatfields. Little is left to show that this place was a primary source of Western civilization, a nexus of trade and ideas for two thousand years, the first organized cosmopolitan city-state, and arguably the source of the Great Mother Goddess religion -- the universal faith of Europe, the Near East, and the Far East before the great empires of the Fertile Crescent arose. Sadly, most of the research on this unique neolithic site has been abandoned, and thousands of pages of analysis remain unpublished. Only one acre of the thirty-two acre mound has been systematically excavated, recorded, and reported. Those excavations reveal an almost fairy-tale city of shrines and temples, of philosophy, luxury, and wealth. This was Catal Huyuk, the ancestress of all other cities, a unique Temple City that was the religious center of the first great prehistoric civilization.
Twelve successive layers of building, representing distinct stages of the city and reflecting different eras of its history, have been found. The top layers of the mound, containing the most recent buildings, are dated at 5,600 B.C. The city was mysteriously abandoned at about this time, and a new city, labeled Catal Huyuk West, was founded several miles away across the Carsamba Cay river. While Catal Huyuk West has barely been investigated, the site appears to have been occupied for another 700 years until it, too, was abandoned. After 4.900 B.C. the entire area was forsaken -- there are no traces of any later buildings or further occupation after neolithic times. Thus, the full duration of this early civilization looks as though it should be measured from approximately 7,000 B.C. to 4,900 B.C., some 2,100 years, give or take a century, "The neolithic civilization revealed at Catal Huyuk shines like a supernova among the rather dim galaxy of contemprary peasant cultures...................

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