Research: Çatalhöyük West Mound Project

The Çatalhöyük Project [project website]

Times of Change
The Turn from the 7th to the 6th Millennium BC in the Near East and Southeast Europe

International Conference of the Çatalhöyük West Mound Project

Please click here to download the 2011 Çatalhöyük West Mound Project Conference Program [in PDF format].

Conference Organizers
Peter F. Biehl (SUNY Buffalo)
Eva Rosenstock (Free University Berlin)

Conference Secretariat
Jana Rogasch (Free University Berlin)
Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology
Altensteinstraße 15
14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Funded by the Transcoop Program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

November 24th – 26th 2011


Free University Berlin
Hittorfstraße 18
14195 Berlin-Dahlem


Within the framework of the excavation project at Çatalhöyük West, this conference aims to explore culture change at the transition from the 7th to 6th millennium BC in the Near East and South-eastern Europe. Timely topics, such as innovation and persistence as well as transformation and continuity will be discussed in order to scrutinize concepts and terminologies such as ‘Neolithic’ and ‘Chalcolithic’, ‘Neolithisation’, ‘Neolithic Package’, ‘Secondary Products Revolution’ etc.

Our key hypothesis is that around 6,000 cal BC cultural change can be seen in the archaeological as well as environmental records from Syria to Greece. The conference brings together scholars from various fields within archaeology to discuss, compare and contextualize these changes in the material culture as well as in the economy, social and religious-symbolic spheres. Some of the key questions are:

Which changes and which continuities can we see around 6,000 BC? What is role of settlement, burial rites and material culture change in shaping societies’ response to culture change? How can we conceptualize times of change in the archaeological record? Can we use the term ‘Chalcolithic’ in the same way as we use ‘Neolithic’ or ‘Bronze Age’? How can we overcome the terminological gap between Europe and the Near East?

Registration Information

The conference is free but please register via email (
Information to include in the registration email: Name, Institution, and email.


Invited speakers: accommodation is provided. All participants: please make your own hotel reservation. A list of affordable hotels will be provided with the confirmation email of the registration.

Conference Venue

Hittorfstraße 18
14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Preliminary Program

Thursday, November 24th

During the day  Arrival and hotel check-in

18:00               Lecture by Ian Hodder – Stanford University
                       "Entangled at Çatalhöyük: new results and perspectives."
                        Followed by a wine reception

Friday, November 25th

8:00 – 10:00    Registration at the conference venue

9:00 – 9:30      Opening Remarks
                       Wolfram Schier – Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology
                       Katja Hartmann –  Alexander-von-Humboldt-Foundation
Michael Meyer – TOPOI

9:30 – 10:00    Peter F. Biehl & Eva Rosenstock, SUNY Buffalo and Free University Berlin
                       Introduction to the conference topic

10:00   – 10:30 Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:00   Karin Bartl, German Archaeological Institute Damascus
The Late Neolithic Site of Shir in Western Syria: The Final Phase of
Occupation around 6000 BC
11:00 – 11:30   Olivier Nieuwenhuyse, Leiden University/ German Archaeological Institute
Containers of Change: Social and Material Innovation in 7th Millennium Upper

11:30 – 12:00   Susan Pollock & Reinhard Bernbeck, Free University Berlin
                        Scales and Referents of Change in Prehistoric Iran and Turan

12:00 – 13.30  Lunch
13:30 – 14:00   Odile Daune-Le Brun, Fouad Hourani and Alain Le Brun, CNRS Nanterre
                        Changing with the Years: Khirokitia in Cyprus at the Turn of the 7th- 6th

14:00 – 14:30    Isabella Caneva, University of Salento
                        Mersin-Yumuktepe in the Seventh Millennium BC: the Social Dimension of
                        Technological Changes

14:30 – 15:00   Erhan Bıcakcı, İstanbul Üniversitesi
                        A Conspectus on the Status of Tepecik-iftlik Excavation (Cappadocia) –
Intersite and Regional Outcomes and Prospects

15:00 – 15:30  Coffee

15:30 – 16:00   Lech Czerniak & Arkadiusz Marciniak, Uniwersytet Gdánski and Uniwersytet
                        im. Adama Mickiewicza Poznań

                        Çatalhöyük East Towards the End of the 7th Millennium cal. BC

16:00 – 16:30   Peter F. Biehl, Ingmar Franz, David Orton, Sonia Ostaptchouk,
                        Jana Rogasch & Eva Rosenstock, SUNY Buffalo, Freiburg University,
                        Free University Berlin, University of Cambridge and Musée Nationale d’Histoire
                        Naturelle Paris

                        The Aftermath of Change: Çatalhöyük West

16:30 – 17:00  Bleda S. Düring, Universiteit Leiden
                        The Çatalhöyük East- Köşk Höyük Connection Revisited

17:00 – 17:30  Coffee

17:30 – 18:00  Ciler Cilingiroǧlu, Ege Üniversitesi, İzmir
                       The Prehistorian’s Dilemma: A Critique of Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic
Division in West Turkey

18:00 – 18:30  Eylem Özdoǧan, İstanbul Üniversitesi
                       Continuity and Discontinuity as seen from Thrace

18:30 – 19:00  Discussion

From 20:00     German Food at Luise

                       Königin-Luise-Straße 40-42, 14195 Berlin

Saturday, November 26th

8:00 – 8:30      Jonathan Last, English Heritage
                       Pots for a New Millennium: the Contribution of Ceramics to Culture Change in Anatolia

8:30 – 9:00      Ingmar Franz & Joanna Pyzel, Freiburg University and Uniwersytet Gdánski
                       The Potter’s Riddle at Çatalhöyük- An Attempt to Connect the Late Neolithic
and the Early Chalcolithic Pottery Assemblages from Çatalhöyük/Turkey

9:00 – 9:30      Martin Godon & Ozan Özbudak, IFEA İstanbul and İstanbul Üniversitesi
The Downturn in Tepecik-Çiftlik’s Ceramic Production Continuity: an Insight
Towards the Fast Emergence of Supra-Regional Homogeneity in Ceramic Style.

9:30 – 10:00    Coffee Break

10:00 – 10:30  Ulf Schoop, University of Edinburgh
                       Early Settlement in North-Central Anatolia: a Reactionary View

10:30 – 11:00  Agathe Reingruber, German Archaeological Institute, Eurasia Section
                      Mobility and Networks in the Early Neolithic of the Aegean
11:00 – 11:30  Catherine Perèls, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre Le Défense
                       The Turn of the 7th to 6th Millennium in Greece: a Quiet Transition

11:30 – 13:00  Lunch

13:00 – 13:30  Jean-Paul Demoule, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne
                       The Neolithisation of Europe from Anatolia: Why Did They Leave?

13:30 – 14:00  Laure Salanova, CNRS Nanterre
                       The Beginning of the Neolithic in Southwest Bulgaria: a Discontinuous Process

14:00   – 14:30 Marion Lichardus-Itten, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne
                        Changes through time in the early Neolithic settlement of Kovačevo,
                        southwest Bulgaria

14:30 – 15:00  Coffee Break

15:00 – 15:30  Vassil Nikolov, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Archaeology
                       and Museum Sofia

Thrace after 6,000 BC

15:30 – 16:00  Dušan Borić, Cardiff University & Emanuela Cristiani, University of Cambridge
                       A Hybrid Cultural World: The Turn of the 7th to the 6th Millennium BC
                       in the Central Balkans

16:00 – 16:30  Coffee Break

16:30 – 17:00  Wolfram Schier, Free University Berlin
                       Modes and Models of Neolithisation in Europe: comments to an ongoing debate

17:00 – 18:00  Ian Hodder, Stanford University
                       Concluding Remarks and General Discussion

20:00               Turkish food at the "Hasır"
                        Oranienburger Straße 4, 10178 Berlin


Karin Bartl, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Damaskus

The Late Neolithic Site of Shir in Western Syria: The Final Phase of Occupation around 6000 BC

Shir, a Late Neolithic site in western Syria, is situated in one of the regions in the Near East that are favourably influenced by the Mediterranean. Since 2006 the site has been systematically investigated by the German Archaeological Institute in Damascus and by the Syrian Antiquities Department. The aim of the project is to examine the connection between the settlement and its hinterland; thereby, particular attention was given to the layout of the settlement- a feature largely unknown as yet from contemporary settlements in the central and northern Levant. According to the present state of knowledge, the settlement was founded around 7000 BC (calibrated dates) and abandoned towards the end of the 7th millennium BC. Despite the especially favourable location with, among other advantages, a year-round water supply, the site was never inhabited again. A new settlement is only documented for the 3rd millennium BC, some 500 m farther west at Tall ash-Shir. It is striking that there are hardly any traces of occupation from the 6th and 5th millennia and that almost no neighbouring settlements seem to have existed in the 7th millennium either.

The settlement sequence in Shir amounts to ca. 6 metres of occupational levels; they are subdivided into seven building phases with numerous sub-phases and complex architectural contexts. It is striking that, on the one hand, there are no standardized building shapes, while, on the other, there are uniform characteristics inside the houses, for example the use of lime-mortar to plaster floors and walls. This particular feature and also the funerary customs characterised in the earlier levels exclusively by intramural burials of individuals, can be seen as a definitive continuation of cultural characteristics of the 8th millennium BC, at least with reference to these earlier levels. The latest occupational levels probably date to the last third of the 7th millennium BC; besides a great variety of dwellings, two building complexes with special functions should be singled out here. Each building is constituted by two rows of parallel rooms, most of which can only be accessed from an upper floor. The small size of the rooms and the objects found there suggest that they were mainly used to store plant foods. The volume and the location of the storage rooms attest an increased necessity- in contrast to needs of the earlier occupation- for storing foodstuffs. Several ways of production and consumption may be envisaged (performed by individuals, the family, or the community).

A separate burial ground at the centre of the settlement constitutes a further noteworthy finding in the last phase of occupation and usage; it was the cemetery for more than twenty persons. The deceased were probably buried there at a time, when the neighbouring buildings had already been abandoned. The dates gathered so far document a complex occupation over a time span of 800 to 900 years, which came to an end, without any obvious cause, towards the close of the 7th millennium BC and which, for a long time, did not have any successor in the immediate surroundings of the site.

For the time being it is not clear whether the desertion of the settlement is the beginning of a general hiatus in the vicinity or whether a new settlement was founded elsewhere or whether mobile ways of life started to develop. The sequence of layers ascertained in Hama, ca. 12 km southeast of Shir, suggests a continuous occupation of the region in general between the 7th and the 5th millennium. However, due to the meagre data it is not yet possible to proffer a differentiated statement about the transition from the 7th to the 6th millennium B.C.

Erhan Bıcakcı, İstanbul üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü

A Conspectus on the Status of Tepecik-iftlik Excavation (Cappadocia) – Intersite and Regional Outcomes and Prospects

Tepecik-iftlik’s site, despite its isolated location in middle of Melendiz formation, bears a long duration stratigraphy over a span from the 8th to the 6th millenniums. Thus, the main sequence of the site encompasses the Pottery Neolithic and the Early Chalcolithic periods. The Göllüdaǧ obsidian sources close to it might well be one of the main reasons for choosing this location. Moreover, the fertile environmental conditions of climatic optimum, as rich water sources, abundant plant and animal species, etc. of southern Central Anatolian Plateau, but especially of the Melendiz-Erciyas formations (Volcanic Cappadocia), was suitable for the early, proto- farmer communities, who still should have significant hunter-gatherer praxis.

Though the earlier levels of Tepecik-iftlik are still not excavated, the exposed Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods of the site, which are dated between the second half of 7th and the first half of the 6th millennium, indicates rather distinctive cultural features.

Beside the cultural durations and changes between these two periods, the incomparable architecture and the assemblages suggest the existence of a different culture than the one already known from Central Anatolia. The unexcavated earlier levels of Tepecik-iftlik will somewhat help us to understand the origins of this culture.

The preliminary studies and observations on the material culture of Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods reveal evidences of both changes and continuities within the cultural development. At the end of Early Chalcolithic period, however, an abrupt and brutal end of cultural continuity is clearly distinguishable. After this "hiatus", the traces of a different culture, which might be dated to the middle of the 6th millennium, indicates that the mound was occupied by new settlers. Yet, the lack of similar sites in the region, except Köşk Höyük, complicates a detail understanding of this cultural process as well as the extension of these cultures in a larger scale. Köşk Höyük and other few sites known around it indicate that this culture might have been extended to the west, on the northern slopes of Middle Taurus Mountains. On the other hand, considering the potential links of this culture with the eastern regions, one should bear in mind that those marshy and hilly terrains are still terra incognita.

The preliminary impression given by Tepecik-iftlik cultural development tend to show that, beside the "Konya Plain" cultures, other one(s) existed in the southern Central Anatolian Plateau. It seems that those cultures implantation pattern was favouring mountainous and hilly terrains with marshy areas in between, in this instance the ones extending east and south of the Konya Plain. However, less is known about these regions and looking forward for new surveys and field works including them is a priority.

Peter F. Biehl, SUNY Buffalo,
Ingmar Franz, Freiburg University,
David Orton, University of
Sonia Ostaptchouk,
Musée Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle Paris,
Jana Rogasch
and Eva Rosenstock, Free University Berlin

The Aftermath of Change: Catalhöyük West

The paper scrutinizes the process of cultural, social, economic and symbolic transition between the Neolithic and Chalcolithic in Central Anatolia as revealed at the Çatalhöyük East and West Mounds. At Çatalhöyük, settlement is shifting from the East to the West Mound around 6,000 BC and offers therefore the exceptional chance to analyze this transition and the aftermath of the changes which start on the East Mound and continue on the West Mound. Though the excavations of Late Neolithic layers on the top of the East Mound and the deep sounding to the earliest layers of the West Mound as well as the excavations of its Early Chalcolithic architecture illustrate times of change the questions of how and why the change happened is still unclear. Çatalhöyük offers a microcosm that may help us unlock some of the key questions such as the phenomenon of relocating tell settlements in this time period in the Near East – an event that seems to be more common and important than previously thought. The paper discusses both environmental (e.g. the 8.2 cal BP climate event) and social explanations and the data the research on the West Mound provides to answer these questions. Once we understand the regional process, we can widen our lens and try to determine the broader effects and to re-evaluate the aftermath of these changes at the turn of the 7th – 6th millennium cal BC at other sites in the Near East and Southeast Europe.

Dušan Borić Cardiff University & Emanuela Cristiani, University of Cambridge

A Hybrid Cultural World: The Turn of the 7th to the 6th Millennium BC in the Central Balkans

In the Danube Gorges region of the Balkans, one finds a forager stronghold with the continuous evidence of occupation throughout the Mesolithic (at least since 9500 BC). Based on the cultural characteristics and repertoire of documented practices, it seems that these foragers were in one way or the other communicating with or being aware of communities inhabiting regions hundreds and even thousands of kilometres away. In the course of the regional Late Mesolithic (c. 7300-6200 BC), there are some indications that the Danube Gorges communities might have emulated/shared certain cultural practices that are characteristic of Neolithic communities in western Anatolia and farther to the east. One could perhaps go so far and see this region as part of the same ‘culture area’ with other regions of the eastern Mediterranean. Yet, in many other elements of daily life and ideology these communities remained firmly rooted in older traditions characteristic of Mesolithic communities in the rest of Europe. There is now ample evidence that the foragers of the Danube Gorges came into contact with increasingly mobile Neolithic groups in the last centuries of the 7th millennium BC, which triggered a substantial culture change. The paper examines the consequences of these contacts and exchanges, and subsequent, relatively brief, flourishing of a hybrid cultural world.

Isabella Caneva, Università del Salento, Lecce

Mersin-Yumuktepe in the Seventh Millennium BC: the Social Dimension of Technological Changes

The earliest settlement at Yumuktepe was founded within the general phenomenon of Neolithic "colonisation" of new areas at the beginning of the 7th millennium BC, when several new farming sites were established throughout the Near East. The absence of hunting is a significant feature of the earliest phases at Yumuktepe, different from the contemporary Neolithic sites, where hunting still played an important role in the economy (Cavallo 1997). This peculiarity might be explained by the scarcity of wild fauna in the coastal environment, but it is also conceivable that these early migratory farmers practised their farming economy as a form of group identity, deliberately ignoring the local subsistence strategies and natural food resources. The characteristics of their pottery, on the other hand, reflect sophisticated inter-regional relations.

The following phases were part of a continuous development, though with several changes: lithic industry evolved gradually from obsidian blade technology to flint flake technology; pottery was more sensitive to change, with the original light-coloured and heavy vessels being almost immediately integrated with the thinner brown globular ones, which were then replaced by the orange and black Middle Neolithic pottery, and by the Late Neolithic painted pottery; changes in architecture did not always parallel those of the other cultural traits: stone basements, for instance, started at the end of the Early Neolithic phase, and continued unchanged in the following Middle Neolithic phase in spite of the different pottery production. It is only in the Late Neolithic phase, at the beginning of the 6th millennium, that more comprehensive changes can be identified; these involve not only the architectural and pottery features, but, more generally, the layout of the village and the whole artefact production. New structures were introduced, such as oval houses, ovens, silos, pits, working open areas and graves. A more specialised artefact production involved a variety of bone artefacts and stone ornaments and vessels. Seals appear more regularly and might be related with the multiplication of external storage structures. 

In the following Final Neolithic phase, these features were accentuated.  The differences between this phase and the previous one consisted more in size than in type, with the architectural structures being much more carefully made and more monumental, and the pottery being finer and far more accurately decorated and burnished. In addition, changes in raw material acquisition strategies might have occurred during this phase, with a possible reduction in the obsidian distribution network. This remarkable advance in technical complexity and production scale in these phases might be attributed to the emergence of a different society, at the same time as it appeared in other contexts. The persisting absence of any form of ritual objects or areas at Yumuktepe, however, makes this group stand out as a highly peculiar.

Ciler Cilingiroǧlu, Ege Üniversitesi, İzmir

The Prehistorian’s Dilemma: A Critique of Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic Division in West Turkey

James Mellaart defined the beginning of Early Chalcolithic with the appearance of painted pottery in Hacılar V. His chronological order still remains as an important milestone in the history of Neolithic research in Turkey. However, current approaches to culture change promote an understanding of socio-economical structures and ideological transformations with a long-term perspective. Despite new approaches in archaeology did we manage to free our minds from the arbitrary divisions of prehistoric periods based on pottery change? If human history, for practical reasons, needs to be divided in comprehensible temporal units, what would be the most effective and least reductionist way to pursue? Can we ever manage to gain an understanding of prehistoric societies without putting material culture-in this case pottery- in the center of our research? This paper will try to provide a retrospective critique for the definition of the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods in West Turkey and focus on the actual observable changes in the archaeological record as evidenced at Ulucak mound near İzmir. It is my aim to show that prehistorians working in İzmir Region are confronted with a dilemma since they can neither continue with Mellaart’s chronology nor dismiss it completely.      

Lech Czerniak and Arkadiusz Marciniak, Instytut Prahistorii, Uniwersytet Poznań

Çatalhöyük East Towards the End of the 7th Millennium cal. BC

Recent excavations of upper strata of the Neolithic atalhöyük East conducted by the Polish team revealed a considerable departure from previous arrangements in terms of settlement layout, house architecture, burial practices, human-animal relations, lithics procurement and technology, and the like.  In the paper we intend to scrutinize a spatial dimension of these developments by comparing the Team Poznań (TP) stratigraphic sequence with 4040 Area on the north eminence of the East mound. Furthermore, we aim to re-define relations of the TP sequence with structures revealed by the Mellaart in the 1960s in the uppermost levels of his excavations. Consequently, the paper shall provide an in-depth overview of changes occurred at Çatalhöyük towards the end of the 7th millennium cal. BC.

Jean-Paul Demoule, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne

The Neolithisation of Europe from Anatolia: Why Did They Leave?

According to some anti-diffusionistic (or evolutionistic, or ‘immobilistic’) models, the European Neolithic originates from local innovations. However, indications accumulated during the past years prove that a large part of the cultural traits of the oldest Balkan Neolithic have an apparent correlation with Anatolia. These correlations can clearly be seen at the site of Kovačevo in Bulgaria which yielded especially rich information about architecture, techniques and forms of bone industry, body ornaments, "pintaderas", figurines and certain characteristics of pottery. Even some clearly imported objects were found. Other sites in northern Greece and Bulgaria support these observations. One can therefore suggest a chronological model with five principle periods of the Neolithic colonisation of the Balkans. Nevertheless, the reasons motivating Anatolian population to colonise Europe remain to be explored, although the Neolithic remained relatively stable in the zone of its origin the Levant during all of the "Pre-Pottery Neolithic". With the revival of deterministic models, which partially derives from modern ecological fear of "global warming", a climatic deterioration has been invoked for the end of the 7th millennium (the "6.2 event"). One could, however, also put forward political and cultural reasons: the refusal to live in large settlement with a dense concentration of people, a system collapsing in the Near East at exactly this point of time. This paper aims to explore these different tracks.  

Bleda S. Düring, Faculteit Archeologie, Universiteit Leiden

The Çatalhöyük East- Köşk Höyük Connection Revisited

Köşk Höyük, with its rich imagery and plastered skulls, has often been presented as the cultural descendant of Çatalhöyük East, continuing the same symbolic worlds that dominated in the Neolithic. In this presentation this view will be problematised. Apart from the obvious problem that the Çatalhöyük East sequence now is continuous with that of Çatalhöyük West, which has assemblages that are completely different from those of Köşk Höyük / Tepecik, there are very clear differences between the Çatalhöyük East images and burials traditions and those of Köşk Höyük. In this paper, some of these differences will be foregrounded. In particular, symbolism at Köşk Höyük focuses on agriculture among other things, a motif conspicuously absent at Çatalhöyük East. Intriguingly, this symbolic elaboration of agriculture masks the fact that subsistence economy of Köşk Höyük is similar in many respects to that in preceding periods. Thus the idea that the Chalcolithic is the ‘true Neolithic’put forward by some scholars needs to be qualified. In this paper, I will juxtapose imagery from both Çatalhöyük East and Köşk Höyük with data concerning the subsistence economy, in order to evaluate changes in how people perceived their worlds and livelihoods before and after 6000 BC.

Ingmar Franz, Universität Freiburg and Joanna Pyzel, Instytut Archeologii, Uniwersytet Gdański

The Potter’s Riddle at Çatalhöyük – An Attempt to Connect the Late Neolithic and the Early Chalcolithic Pottery Assemblages from Çatalhöyük/Turkey

The site of Çatalhöyük is very famous for many spectacular finds, but not for the pottery, although most of its layers represent ceramic periods. It is caused by the fact that, until today, the focus of research lies on the Neolithic East Mound, where pottery finds are quite rare. This is one of the most striking differences to the Early Chalcolithic West Mound where much more pottery is found which heavily differs from the Neolithic material. Until today these two parts of the site are treated almost like two different sites because an occupation gap of some hundreds of years was assumed. Recent excavations conducted by Team Poznań (TP) on the East Mound and by Team Buffalo-Berlin on the West Mound indicate a continuous occupation and attested dynamic changes in the Late Neolithic (LN) and Early Chalcolithic (EC) periods ranging from 6300-5500 cal BC. Transformations in architecture, spatial organization, burial practices, lithic industry, and pottery already show up in the latest settlement layers of the East Mound and most likely finally culminate in the proceeding EC-features discovered on the West Mound. With this paper the LN- and EC- pottery assemblages will be examined in terms of persistence and transformation to define possible continuous or innovative elements. The LN-pottery from the TP Area is still quite Neolithic in character and can be mainly well described by using defined ware groups based on classical East Mound material. The relatively small quantity, the high fragmentation level and the rare use of decorative elements makes reconstructions of vessels almost impossible. But in contrast to the Early Neolithic pottery more pieces with reddish slip or painted surfaces can be registered. Also some changes in the morphology of the vessels can be observed which indicates more functional categories. Pottery seems to be used not only for cooking, but also for serving food, which is a parallel to the EC-material.

At the first glance the EC-pottery found on the West Mound varies significantly from the East Mound pottery, because of its lighter colored fabric, the painted decorations and a much wider range of vessel types and sizes. It seems to be some kind of a low valued "mass product" which production is household based. Hints for the intensification of production are the use of basket moulds simultaneously occurring with the imitation of baskets, the standardized and often "sloppily" applied decorations and rarely use of symbols. Striking is the occurrence of huge vessels for storage or transport and of pot stands on which vessels were put for heating.

Typo-stylistical relations between the pottery assemblages, e.g. attested in the so-called "S-profile" or "basket-handled vessels", in addition with the strong basketry-pottery relation and a relatively low value of pottery represent persistent elements. Innovative elements are of technological character. They comprise e.g. the beginning of decorating pottery and the extension of the vessel spectrum which occurred during the Neolithic. The intensification of production and more efficient use of fuels are the innovations made during the EC-period. In the end of the day the potter’s innovations made at Çatalhöyük seem to build up on each other and therewith indicate continuity.

Martin Godon, IFEA/CNRS Cépam and Ozan özbudak, Istanbul University

The Downturn in Tepecik-Ciftlik’s Ceramic Production Continuity: an Insight Towards the Fast Emergence of Supra-Regional Homogeneity in Ceramic Style.

At the down of the 7th millennium BC, Tepecik-iftlik ceramic assemblage is still showing the stylistic and technological characteristics anchored in the Central Anatolian Neolithic development. Even if around 6400 BC cal. the neolithisation drive towards the West come along with new ties between Cappadocia and the Konya plain, it never reach the brutal and unprecedented  changes as the ones seen in pottery assemblages around 5700 BC cal., changes that are not restricted to the Central Anatolian area itself but recorded-at least- from Cilicia to the Balkans. For over fifty years, the Cappadocian side of those changes were exemplified by the Gelveri pottery corpus, even if no archaeological contexts neither chronological evidence could be linked to the specific geometric incised decors that brought Gelveri potteries as a style label for so long.

With the Tepecik-Ciftlik’s upper layers as well as recent archaeological works and pottery analyses at Gelveri, one can cope with the chronological issue and the cultural development in Cappadocia throughout those still unclear events marking the sixth millennium in Anatolia.

In this communication, we are eager to underline the major changes in terms of style and pottery technology that appears suddenly after a rather smooth development in Tepecik-Ciftlik sequence. The new evidences from Gelveri will be treated in order to settle a preliminary assessment related to this site chronology that well might be divided between two occupations: a first one at the rise of the 6th millennium and a later one during the fifth millennium BC. A second analytic step will aim at delivering evidences of cultural stability-as far as Tepecik-Ciftlik sequence is concerned- within what can be seen as a tremendous shift from close regional interactions to large-scale ones. If the pottery technological repertory do show important improvements, some specific ceramic chaines opéatoires pursue their course, braking through typological and stylistic changes. Hence, as time of changes are archeologically identified,  its cultural implications largely transcend Central Anatolia and the way changes affects communities may certainly differs from one region to another, Tepecik-iftlik and Gelveri evidences being pieces which will refine the complexity of the fast and striking cultural interactions raised by this conference.

Jonathan Last, English Heritage

Pots for a New Millennium: the Contribution of Ceramics to Culture Change in Anatolia

Around 6000 cal BC on the Konya Plain the nature of ceramic assemblages changed considerably, with higher quantities of pottery in use, a greater range of vessel shapes and new forms of surface treatment. In this presentation I will explore the details of these changes and their implications for our understanding of Anatolian societies at the turn of the 6th millennium. My approach is based on quantitative analysis of an Early Chalcolithic pottery assemblage from Çatalhöyük West, comparisons with other material culture and palaeoenvironmental assemblages from the site, and comparative data from contemporary sites in Anatolia and beyond.

Odile Daune-Le Brun and Alain Le Brun, CNRS Nanterre

Changing with the Years: Khirokitia in Cyprus at the Turn of the 7th- 6th Millennium

The purpose of the paper is to explore the turn of the 7th to the 6th millennium BC in Cyprus as seen from a study case: Khirokitia. Founded in the second half of the 7th millennium BC, this settlement belongs to the end of a cultural process, the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic, which began, in the present state of our knowledge, with the installation of farmers on the island around the 9th millennium BC. It illustrates the apogee of this period’s cultural development prior to its collapse during the 6th millennium BC.

Located on the slopes of a hill lying within a sharp bend of a river, the settlement (c. 27 000m2) is enclosed as soon as its foundation and on, by successive concrete boundaries in the form of impressive walls. The history of the village is marked by successive events that are clearly evidenced by variations in its spatial extent and organisation, the major one, an outstanding shift of the built area, happening in the course of its occupation, around the end of the 7th millennium BC. As for climatic changes, both the study of the hydromorphological evolution of the riverbed and soundings carried out next to the riverbed have revealed the existence of torrential flows and violent erosion, that seems to indicate the installation during the occupation of the village of an erratic and concentrated  pluviosity. 

The presentation will focus on these main events that affected the village spatial organisation and investigate changes and continuities that can be then observed in the environment, as well as in the village relations with the environment, subsistence strategies, craft techniques and activities organisation, architectural practices, social organisation (domestic and collective), rituals etc. This investigation relies on a precise stratigraphical sequence, consisting of 11 main architectural levels, and an extremely rich documentation allowing interdisciplinary approaches (geomorphology, hydromorphology, anthracology, zoology, anthropology, dental and parodontal pathology analysis, technological and functional studies of chipped stone industries and bone tools etc.).

Marion Lichardus-Itten, Université Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne

Changes through time in the early Neolithic settlement of Kovačevo, southwest Bulgaria

The early Neolithic settlement of Kovačevo was founded in the end of the 7th millennium BC. Finds and findings of the oldest layers prove the presence of a population with a fully Neolithic economy and way of life. The oldest pottery is of outstanding quality, featuring white paint on dark red ground. There are no layers with exclusively monochrome pottery at Kovačevo. White painted pottery is dominant during the whole Early Neolithic, spanning a period of ca. 800 years (6,200- 5,400 BC), while other kinds of paint technique occur parallel though in very small quantity. Practically no pieces with dark paint on red or beige surface, which occurs during the Early Neolithic northwards on the upper Struma, the Sofia basin and the central Balkans were found at the site (see also contribution by L. Salanova).

Kovačevo is situated in South-western Bulgaria, ca.15 km east of the Struma and close to the Greek border. The site is not a tell, but a flat settlement spread over seven hectars which were not always completely occupied during the Early Neolithic. The North-western part of the main excavation area, which covers 1650 m2, is characterized by layers with a thickness of up to 2.8m – in one of the ten test trenches (2m x 10m), 4m of cultural deposits were excavated before excavation had to be stopped due to security reasons. The cultural deposits in the main excavation area could be divided into three or four early Neolithic periods and we might be able to subdivide them into occupation phases based on the detailed and thorough analysis of the pottery. The oldest two early Neolithic periods (Ia and Ib) could already be clearly distinguished during the excavations and were found only in the most South-eastern part of the settlement. The periods Ic and Id were also found here, but as well in the higher areas of the settlement across the asphaltic road. They differ from the two oldest pre-Karanovo periods (Ia and Ib) by a number of new elements. Preliminary labelling as period Ic/d is due to the fact that findings in the upper layers just below the topsoil are badly disturbed with few objects in primary position. There is, therefore, not yet clear evidence for two definitely separate periods Ic and Id.

Findings and finds from the periods Ia, Ib and Ic/d are so distinct they might indicate interrupted occupations. Although all three periods are marked by a clearly Early Neolithic habitus and although different elements seem to originate in the preceding periods, ceramic vessels, figurines, cult tables, stone industry, jewellery and especially architecture show numerous changes. Consequently, there are questions about their causality, origin, nature and implications to be investigated.

Olivier Nieuwenhuyse, Faculteit Archeologie, Universiteit Leiden and Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient Abteilung

Containers of Change: Social and Material Innovation in 7th Millennium Upper Mesopotamia

The later part of the 7th millennium was a time of unprecedented changes in Upper Mesopotamia. These have been attributed to a wide array of social, economic and ecological factors. However, the physical properties of the materials and artifacts involved in these processes have been relatively neglected as potential agents of change. Archaeologists and anthropologists across the board have recently emphasized that human beings and material things mutually constitute each other. Following the organizers’ call, I shall therefore explore how material culture guided the range of social changes open to Late Neolithic communities in Upper Mesopotamia. This period was characterized by the progressive inter-dependency of humans and ceramic containers. The introduction of ceramics (7000 cal. BC) was followed by the slow rise of this new category of containers towards a major component of everyday life, changing irrevocably the material world in which people grew up and became socialized.  In this paper I explore this mutual dependency by highlighting innovations in pottery production. At first ceramic innovation was very slow, with small successive changes accumulating over many human generations. At the end of the 7th millennium, however, the pace of change accelerated. I propose that the gradually accumulating potters’ expertise eventually provided a new, irresistible impetus to the rapid changes that mark the close of the 7th millennium.  I shall contextualize these observations in the social and cultural framework of the Late Neolithic as we currently understand it. Coming back to the main topic of the workshop, what changes can we associate with, specifically, the transition from the 7th to the 6th millennium?

Vassil Nikolov, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Science, Sofia

Thrace after 6,000 BC

The first farmers emerged in Thrace around 6,000 BC. The first settlements in the western part of this region appeared slightly earlier than those in the east. Painted ware with rounded forms is typical for the Early Neolithic material culture. In western Thrace, this ceramic style developed longer than in the eastern part. The first dark ware in the west dates from the Late Neolithic and was marked by carinated forms, while in the east dark ware replaced painted pottery after a shorter period of time already during the Early Neolithic. The first dark ware in the east had rounded forms, which eventually developed into the Late Neolithic carinated forms. This fact suggests that the first farmers entered Thrace from the west and spread east, including in Eastern Thrace, without reaching the Black Sea coast. Their origin probably was southern Anatolia, where painted pottery was an important characteristic of early farming cultures at the end of the seventh and beginning of the sixth millennium BC. The Black Sea coast did not feature painted pottery in this period. The first farmers there had connections to northwest Anatolia, where dark ware was predominant through the late seventh and sixth millennia BC. The dark ware communities gradually spread westwards into Thrace and northwards to the lower Danube. The Circumpontic zone that emerged in the second half of the sixth millennium BC included the eastern parts of Thrace, too. Thus, the neolithization of Thrace appears to be a long process that started in the very end of the seventh millennium and continued through the first half of the sixth millennium BC and was connected to two different cultural areas in Anatolia. Such a neolithization process had long-lasting effects and left its traces in the binary cultural structure of this region in the sixth as well as the fifth millennium BC.

Eylem Özdoğan, İstanbul Üniversitesi
Continuity and Discontinuity as Seen from Thrace

By the 7th millennium BC, the Neolithic way of life had already became firmly established in a considerably large area outside of formative zone. Through this pristine stage of expansion that lasted for a considerable period of time, it is possible to note a more or less cultural uniformity; within this vast geography local differences were much less apparent and geographically less defined. Diversification of local features becomes much more discernable by the early stages of the 6th millennium BC, nevertheless, still there were numerous shared components of the cultural setting. However, by the 5th Millennium there is a marked change, the east and west then becoming distinct cultural entities.

Even though Eastern Thrace is geographically an extension of the Balkan peninsula, due to its location at the meeting point of Anatolia with the Balkans, it provides the means to observe and to correlate the happenings that took place on either side of the Sea of Marmara. In this respect, excavations at Aşaği Pinar, like other recent excavations in this critical contact zone, has provided the much needed evidence to develop an understanding through the 7th to 5th Millennium BC. It is now apparent that the cultural spheres of both Hoca Çeşme and Aşaği Pinar are with the Aegean littoral, and not with the regions around the Bosporus as expected. It also became evident that from the 7th Millennium on both sites became more strongly connected with the cultural sphere in the Balkans. Nevertheless, the long cultural sequence at Aşaği Pinar, extending for more then 1500 years, provides the means to observe the fluctuations on the impact of other Balkan and as well Anatolian cultures. Thus, in assessing the dynamics of cultural change and social transformations Aşaği Pinar is of critical importance. Preliminary assessment of the Aşaği Pinar evidence clearly indicates that the general picture was far more complex then previously envisaged; even though the basic outline of cultural sequence is analogous to that of other cultures in the Eastern Balkans, the impact of Anatolian cultures are clearly detectable. Even though notable changes taking place by the middle of the 6th millennium are apparent at Aşaği Pinar, as it is the case in a considerably large geographic zone, still we are not able to say whether it is due to happenings in the East vice versa, not excluding the possibility that it might have been taking place simultaneously in both regions. The paper will be an overview of the evidence of Aşaği Pinar on the indicators of cultural transformation during the 6th millennium BC.

Catherine Perlès, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre Le Défense, CNRS, UMR 7055

The Turn of the 7th to 6th Millennium in Greece: a Quiet Transition

At the end of the 7th millennium, the Neolithic lifestyle in mainland Greece had already been established for several centuries. The now famous "6200 cal. BC" climatic event did not appear to disrupt a continuous development of these farming communities, and the turn from the 7th to 6th millennium roughly corresponds to the Early to Middle Neolithic transition according to the Greek chronology. Contrary to the later Middle to Late Neolithic transition, the Early to Middle Neolithic transition is characterized by a marked continuity in most domains, such as subsistence economy, settlement patterns and crafts production. The most visible transformation concerns the production of fine wares. Whereas Early Neolithic were mostly monochrome and of similar shape and style all over Greece, Middle Neolithic fine wares display conspicuous decorations and strongly regionalized styles. The stability of the economic basis and the emphasis on visual display in pottery suggests that the Early to Middle transition in Greece reflects mostly social transformations and different modes of interactions within and between communities. However, there is no indication that these transformations were caused by external factors, whether environmental or human.

Susan Pollock and Reinhard Bernbeck, Institut für Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin

Scales and Referents of Change in Prehistoric Iran and Turan

In this paper we argue that change is an historical term that must always make reference to scale and to specific spheres or referents. There is no situation in which change is absent; rather, our perception of change is dependent on the perspective we adopt in examining history. Similarly, continuity and discontinuity are terms that must be understood relationally.

To illustrate these points we draw on excavations from Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in highland Iran as well as southern Turkmenistan. We examine different scales, from the micro-level to the supraregional. This allows us to identify changes in individual preferences as well as at the level of a community. These two scales can be juxtaposed to regional processes, those we are most familiar with when constructing traditional culture histories, as well as to the supra-regional level. These various perspectives must be painstakingly woven together from the level of the microscale working up. The result will more often than not be a high level of local contingency that cannot easily be synthesized into any longue durée patterns. Present evidence from late 7th to early 6th millennium BCE Iran and Turan suggests a prehistoric dynamic that is just as much checkered by Eigensinn as is Alf Luedtke’s 19th century workers’ history.

Agathe Reingruber, Eurasien-Abteilung, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

Mobility and Networks in the Early Neolithic of the Aegean

The Neolithisation process is one of the major topics under debate in the Aegean archaeology since the description of the basal layers of Thessalian tell-settlements some 50 years ago. The pottery, figurines or stamps occurring there seemed to be of Anatolian origin and were presumably brought to the region by colonists. The direct linking of the so-called Neolithic Package with groups of people leaving Central Anatolia after the collapse of the Pre-Pottery-Neolithic B, resulted in the colonisation model of the Aegean. This view is not supported by the results obtained in the last two decades from natural sciences like archaeobotany, radiocarbon analyses and neutron activation on obsidian. An important argument for the different pace at which the Neolithic "Bauplan" appeared in the specific regions of the Aegean are the radiocarbon dates. Whereas the first Neolithic sites appeared around 6500 BC in Thessaly it is not until 6000 cal BC that the Neolithic way of life reached all the regions in the Aegean. This regionalization also speaks against a massive colonisation from Central Anatolia. Also, the study of the, alas, scant finds of the Mesolithic period reveals, that some of the roots of the EN I are stretching back to the Early Holocene, mainly when considering burial rites and raw material procurement (obsidian from Melos). When bringing theories of social networks into the discussion the picture that emerges becomes much more differentiated and complex.

Laure Salanova, CNRS, UMR 7055, Nanterre

The Beginning of the Neolithic in Southwest Bulgaria: a Discontinuous Process

Contrary to the Near East, the earliest Neolithic sites from Bulgaria, dated around 6100 BC, provided together all the elements of the Neolithic package, and particularly huge amount of pottery. In our studies, the ceramic assemblages are considered from a technological and stylistic point of view for reconstructing the pottery traditions and thus the Neolithisation process.

The ceramic study we have realized on the 23 tons of sherds from Kovačevo allowed to reconstruct exactly the evolution of the ceramic productions during all the Early Neolithic sequence. From this study, we have initiated a regional program to compare Kovačevo with six other ceramic assemblages from the Early Neolithic in the Struma Valley (French-Bulgarian program, 2009-2010, Mr. Grebska Kulova and L. Salanova dir.). This program allows to propose a new scenario for the Neolithisation of the Southwest Bulgaria which points discontinuities both in the space and in the time. This scenario goes against the models proposed for the Neolithisation of the southwest Bulgaria which consider a gradual propagation of the Neolithic, from the South northwards. Through the ceramic assemblages, but also through other elements, we indeed observe important differences between the North and the South of the Bulgarian part of this valley. We also observe repeated discontinuities in the stratigraphy and in the assemblages. These results give a very complex picture for the first stages of the Neolithic in this region, located at the crossroads in various influences.

Ulf-Dietrich Schoop, University of Edinburgh

Early Settlement in North-Central Anatolia: a Reactionary View

This paper addresses some of the circumstances surrounding early settlement in North-Central Anatolia, a region in which our understanding is still much hampered by the meagre nature of the archaeological record.  There have been changing notions of the early history of this area, the most recent views tending to postulate an early beginning of settlement activity along the lines seen in other regions of Anatolia. Re-visiting older notions that environmental factors imposed different constraints on human settlement in this area, I will argue against these more recent views, stating instead that special economic adaptation was necessary for the survival of the communities eventually appearing here.  I will try to explore the outlines of this unique northern Anatolian way of live, and consider the question in how far this may have led to a later beginning of human occupation than elsewhere in Anatolia.

Laurens Thissen, TACB, Amsterdam (this participant is unfortunately not able to attend the conference, but the paper will be included in the publication)

Whose Change? Meso-Neo Transformations in South Romania and The Other

In this paper I want to talk about my difficulties with the concept of change and with its straightforward, uncritical use maintained by this workshop. Focusing on some material culture items straddling a mock Meso/Neo boundary in the Lower Danube, South Romania, I will attempt Geertz’s method of thick description to put forward the proposal that during this transition "change" is an elusive and illusive concept obstructing our efforts at understanding life along a tributary of the Danube at the end of the 7th millennium cal BC. Arguing that our preoccupation with change will only create artificial and superficial dynamics in narratives on prehistory, I prefer to follow Johan Hegardt and Emmanuel Levinas by proposing a more humble archaeology, recognising the limits of our knowledge, acknowledging alternative paths of understanding, against an empiricist, normative view of The Other=The Same. Since we are unable to know The Other, how can we know change or its agents?  Moving away from our obsession with change, that residue of (Western) evolutionary thought, I intend thick description- being a-historic, non-narrative, circumventing an imperialistic discourse- to be more modest, giving room to breathe, in our confrontation with The Other, showing respect and understanding towards a non-understandable, inaccessible other. Humility towards an object, towards its Otherness, represented through thick description does justice to its history, its coming about, its "life". Only in this way we can move towards meaningful concepts involving change and transformations.