modified concretions). Both males and females are shown in repetitive postures. Stone females usually stand, while clay females may stand but usually sit; these repetitive postures may suggest different deities or different aspects of a single deity. Stone males are nearly always seated, often on an animal's back; Mellaart identifies many of these animals as bulls, but the absence of horns, and similarity of spotted and unspotted heads, suggests to me that the animals are felines. Among the securely identified figures, both males and females are associated with leopards. More important, these beings control the animals, which are clearly dangerous based on the red painted mouth and paws of the leopards in the building where so many stone figures were found. By extension, gods and goddesses control the wild and the dangerous.
At present, archaeological data that would allow us to link social, economic, and political change to changes in Neolithic ritual and ideology are limited; however, a consideration of the squence at Catal Hoyuk provides some preliminary insight into the timing and possible importance of such changes. The chronological distribution of the figurines and mural art suggests that there is a shift in religious practice at Catal Hoyuk between levels VI and V. Level VI is dated to approximately 7,500 bp or 5,800 BC by radiocarbon dating (Mellink 1992:Table41, roughly contemporary with the transition between the Final PPNB and Pottery Neolithic in eastern Anatolia, northern Syria, and somewhat later than this transition in the south-central Levant. Before level V stone figures of males and females were made and used, and these figures have some stylistic links to figures from PPNB site of Nevali Cori to the east, where context suggests use in community-wide ritual. Personal rituals at Catal and the Euphrates sites are documented by small clay vehicles of magic. The stone gods of level VI are destroyed, gathered, and effectively entombed. The precise reasons behind this deposition cannot be determined, but a rare ethnoarchaeological study of figurines conducted by Warren DeBoer (1995) indicates that the deposition and destruction of a number of images with ritual significance will only occur when the images lose power.
In levels V and above, a new set of images appears, accompanied by murals depicting people in association with animals. It is at this point that fatfemales,pregnancy, and sexuality become one of several dominant themes visible not only in the figurine industry, but also in wall paintings; for example, in "Shrine" FV. 1, a steatopygous figure with a distended stomach but thin waist stands below the great bull on the north wall (Mellaart 1966:Pl.LI,
LIVa-b, LVIb, LVIII), and a less well-preserved figure of a male with an erect phallus standing next to a seated female(?) with legs spread on the south wall (Mellaart 1966:Pl.WIb). While the meaning of these images is often glossed as "fertility," I would rather stress "abundance" and an assured supply of food and offspring. This makes a great deal of sense based on a significant shift in the subsistence economy of tenth to eighth millennium sites in Turkey, with early Neolithic settlements relying heavily on wild resources, and a significantlyincreased reliance on domesticates during the later Neolithic (M. Ozdogan 1997a). Whether we interpret the clay figures from level II as fat or pregnant or both, they clearly have more than enough to eat, and whatever activities they perform they do not expend all of the calories they take in; in other words, these figures may represent spirits (or perhaps mythological humans) who have a relatively high amount of leisure time and are exempt from the kind of heavy labor performed by village women today. Hamilton (1996:225) makes the intriguing suggestion that the clay figures after level VI emphasize "femaleness" (a concept that includes birth and motherhood) and an "increasing concern with women's roles" (Hamilton 1996:226). From this point of view, the figurines could be related to the increased value of female labor in more fully agricultural subsistence systems and to the value of children as potential laborers. But whatever the female figures mean, I would emphasize that the absence of male figures and figurines does not mean that there were no male deities or spirits in the religion of the upper levels at Catal:male figures are predominant in the "hunting"murals found in levels V and above, and these are reasonably interpreted as ritual in origin.4
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