Male or Female or Both

The next step it to look for clues to the nature of the cult represented by the figures from Catal, and the aspect that has been emphasized in the past is gender. The difficulties inherent in the concept of gender, and especially in sexing figurines, are notorious (see Knapp and Meskell 1997). Mellaart saw most stone figures as female (1967:202-203), an interpretation that has generally been accepted by nonspecialists. If, however, we look at specific attributes of the figures and use these to form classes that differentiate males and females, the results are quite different (Table 6). Viewing the range of variation in the figures, several attributes seem most important or at least most frequently displayed within the Catal corpus of large clay and stone figures. Two attributes have discrete distributions: beards and breasts. Beards are unambiguously male, but the distinction between breasts and well-developed male pectorals on figurines can be quite difficult. This difficulty does not affect our conclusions about the number of males represented since it results in males being classified as females, artificially inflating the number of female figures and diminishing the number of males. Other consistent differences can be established using the beard/breast dichotomy: males tend to have triangular torsos with thin waists and legs, while females have heavy bellies and legs. When the shaping of an image was sloppy or perfunctory, the presence of these attributes is not clear, and in such cases I have made an assessment based on overall form in comparison to figures with similar posture, followed by a question mark. Within Tables 5 and 6, figures with animals are denoted "M/A" and "F/A," a male and female couple as "F,M,"and an ambiguous figure as "M/F." Hamilton (1996:225) discusses the gender of specific figures, and, based on her description of the figures, her identifications do not seem to be very different from my own. It will, however, only be possible to verify this observation with the eventual publication of her catalogue linked to Mellaart's illustrations and/or Ankara museum numbers.

Applying these morphological criteria, we find that all of the Catal clay figures are female or indeterminate (Table 6; see also discussion of clay figures above). For the stone figures, however, there are more securely identified males than females, about the same number of questionable males as questionable females, and eight indeterminate figures (pebble figures,

TABLE 6. Çatal Höyük Figures by Gender

Gender Type






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