The Cats of Çatalhöyük and other stories from Turkey

Photoblog by Roxanne Guildford

I recently visited Ankara, Turkey, for the 2018 International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) conference, which began with a trip through Anatolia which covered part of the rich history of Turkey, from the ancient Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, to early Christian caves carved into volcanic sandstone, and caravan resting houses, to Templar churches and sacred Mosques. The conference at the ODTŰ campus covered much of the archaeology of Turkey, but no one could resist a trip into the historic district of Ankara to visit the Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum, or wander the bazaar streets for shopping before heading back to the dormitories.

The cats of Çatalhöyük. We were worried that few of us spoke Turkish; but the cats, like the people we encountered, didn’t seem to care. Each greeted us with warmth and attention.
A lifetime of excavation at Çatalhöyük: one of the earliest sites of agriculture and domestication
The second, and current excavation at Çatalhöyük, representing the ongoing project that encompasses this UNESCO World Heritage Site
The beautiful, eerie quality of a salt lake, where the wind was hot and smelled metallic
Place of Selime Cathedral and the “Fairy Chimneys”: a mountain made of volcanic sandstone, where early Christians carved into the stone to escape persecution
View from inside one of the caverns. So strange to think that people lived in these spaces
Wandering through experimental houses at Aşıklı Höyük, another Anatolian Neolithic archaeological site
Enjoying a bit of quite time – and some shade from the heat – inside the reconstructed houses
Entering the places where caravans would stop to rest and feed their livestock
A dusty, but impressive church supposedly built by the Templars; very old, but fully restored during the 19th century
The architecture of sacred spaces in Turkey is simply breath-taking.
Painted tile ceilings of this small cultural museum illuminates the artistic use of geometry and light.
A timely return for the ICAZ conference, with many new friends made from all around the world…
… followed by a much-anticipated trip into Ankara city to view more ancient artifacts. So many different carvings and ceramics of cats to be found!
So many old buildings and traditional shops found in the heart of a modern and growing city.
Who can resist a traditional Turkish meze lunch with a view like this? The call to prayer was played over the city while we ate, each of us from a different home but all brought together to share our stories, and learn new ones from this amazing country.
Categories: Asia, Go Abroad Fund, Turkey

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