James Mellaart

Making sense of an unusual multiple burial at Çatalhöyük


While it’s been a much slower season in terms of burials excavated this year, the quality of the finds thus far has been exceptional. One particular burial in Building 52 alone – still in the process of excavation – has already provided a number of very exciting discoveries. When the grave cut in the Northwest platform was opened several weeks ago we were confronted with what seemed a jumble of disarticulated juvenile skulls and and other loose bones. As the grave fill was gradually removed, however, we began to make sense of it all. The first intact body we came across belonged to an infant placed in the Northwest part of the grave cut. I’ve already reported on the well-preserved textiles found underneath this infant. Later, however, as we removed the last of the fabric we realized there was an older child lying directly beneath the infant. It seems the textile was placed between the two bodies but did not appear to wrap around either of them. This second child was also found with a wooden object – possibly a bowl – placed over its head. While Mellaart found a number of wooden household objects during his work at Çatal in the 1960′s, this is the first time such items have been found during the current excavations (this post continues here).