Sculptures and Iconography at Nevali Cori

Information on stone images used in the Nevali Cori cult buildings is provided by broken fragments: when the structure was rebuilt, items presumably used within the older building were deposited within the walls and benches of its successor. The most astonishing find was a sculpted column that Hauptmann compares to a Northwest Coast "totem pole" (1997:133; Türe et al. 1999:Plate21, printed upside down). At the top of the column was a bird with rounded breast, its head broken away (Hauptmann 1993:Fig-ure 24). Below were two similar figures set back to back that represent composite creatureswith a human head and a bird'sback and tail (Hauptmann 1993:Figure 25 illustrates the better preserved of these images); the lower figure is incomplete, and the total height of the column is unknown. The head of the upper and nearly complete composite creature has narrow eyes that may once have been inlaid, a long narrow nose, and a pursed mouth; an oval form beneath the face appears to be a rounded stomach with incised navel. The bird-like elements are visible only on the sides (and back?), which are difficult to understand from the published photographs. Hauptmann (1997:133) states that the human/bird figures (as well as another monumental head that has not yet been fitted into the column)

are female, but this interpretation is hard to justify based on published photos.

A series of sculpture fragments were found in and around the small niche in the northeast wall of Building III, opposite the door. Set into the wall behind the niche was a larger than lifesize human head with a tall rounded skull and ears jutting out to either side (Hauptmann 1993:Figures 12, 19). The face of this sculpture has been destroyed, but the back is well preserved and has a snake with a hemispherical head and a body zigzagging downward, forming what Hauptmann refers to as a "pigtail"(1993:57). The tall, domed head with knob-like ears and snake pigtail certainly suggests representation of a male to a modern viewer, but we cannot be certain of either sex or gender. On the other hand, a human torso found tumbled in front of the niche is in my view unquestionably male: broad shoulders and an absolutely flat chest taper to a narrow waist; the back is beautifully modeled with the spine indicated by a shallow U-shaped channel (Hauptmann 1993:Figure22a and b). Built into the bench below the niche were more sculpture fragments, and another figure with human head and bird-like body (Hauptmann 1993:Figure 14,21). This composite figure has the same long nose and pursed mouth as the human/bird from the "totem pole," as well as the same (though less-rounded) bulging area beneath the shoulders: in this case, wings are more clearly depicted on sides and back.

Stone sculptures were also recovered from domestic buildings at Nevali Cori. Found in House 3 was a human head that had been sculpted in high relief on the upper part of a stele or pillar (Hauptmann 1993:66,Figure 3a, 20; Türe et al. 1999:Plate 22). The face has been (deliberately?) damaged, but narrow, slit-like eyes and a hat or bowl-like hairdo are well preserved. Based on the form of the face and the hair, Hauptmann suggests that this figure is female, and I would certainly agree that the carefully sculpted cheekbones resemble modern images of women. More complex is a high relief carving on a squat pillar with a rounded top that comes from an unspecified context (Hauptmann 1993:67, Figure 26). At the top of the sculpted face is a bulging, oval area, the surface ofwhich has been chipped away; this oval rests on a horizontal edge that can be visualized as the top of an asymmetrical hourglass. The top portion of the hourglass is large, while the bottom is quite small; extending downward from the upper corners of the top of the hourglass are raised V-shaped forms that end at the base of the pillar, spreading away from the small oval bottom of the hourglass. The V-shaped forms clearly resemble human limbs, in part because the terminal/basal area of each has 4 incised lines 5 digits. Hauptmann (personal communication) sees this figure as a human torso and legs, with hips and thighs extending out at a right angle to either side or the damaged human torso and dangling feet; the raised area between the feet is seen as a child, so that the entire image is that of a woman giving birth. This is certainly a reasonable interpretation, and is consistent with the way in which lower bodies of humans are depicted on another sculpture described below (Hauptmann 1993:Figure27). I would suggest, however, that the figure can also be considered as ambiguous, another example of a male/female image: the constriction between large oval at the top of the piece and the broad triangle below could be viewed either as a waist or as a neck; in the latter case, the upper part of the hourglass depicts a male torso with broad shoulders and narrow waist and hips, bordered by arms bent at the elbows.

A final sculpted piece, a stone bowl fragment found in the foundations of House 3 (Hauptmann 1993:67,Figure 27), is especially important since it provides the kind of internal relationship that is central to Hodder'sanalysis of CatalHoyuk. Three individuals are shown on the bowl'sexterior: a triangular-headed figure with a spherical body and four short straight limbs is flanked by two humans, one larger than the other. The humans have oval heads with excisions to form deep-set eyes and nose, and the smaller figure has an incised linear mouth; they too have spherical bodies, with limbs curving up to form hands with incised fingers, and down, ending in bloblike but firmly grounded feet. To the viewer's left of the larger figure is a raised crescent, truncated by a broken edge, and to the right of the smaller figure is a more complex horned(?) area that again ends in a break. Hauptmann sees all three as a symbols of fertility (1993:67). Alternatively, the bulging torsos might be related to food, either full stomachs or fat deposits; in either case, the issue would be abundance, a concept that is certainly related to fertility. Based on a difference in size, one could argue (as Hauptmann does) that the figure to the left is male, and that to the right is female. If so, identifying the sex of stone sculptures atNevali Coriis likely to be unusually difficult, as is suggested by the discussion above. Taking a broader perspective, these figures are particularly interesting because of their raised-arms—callingto mind a series of wall sculptures found at Catal Hoyuk that Mellaart and others have identified as images of "thegoddess," but that I consider genderless and not necessarily human (see the discussion of Giobekli Tepe below).

The Nevali Sori sculptures found in Buildings II and III have attributes associated with cult figures, and their disposition—broken and incorporated into the fabric of the buildings—strengthens this interpretation. This site has, therefore, produced evidence of community ritual in the form of a special purpose structure with associated cult statues. The systematic damage exhibited by other sculptures that were apparently disposed of with some care in domestic buildings suggests that cult images, or at least images considered to have great power, were not restricted to public spaces. Small "maleand female figures in sun-dried and fired clay"(Hauptmann 1997:133)

suggest that individual ritual acts similar to those inferred for Gritille were also practiced at Nevali Cori.

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