Understanding Çatalhöyük and the Origins of Settled Life

The Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lecture 2016

Professor Ian Hodder, Professor of Anthropology and Dunlevie Family Professor at Stanford University

The Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lecture is presented by the Anthony McNicoll Visiting Lectureship and the Department of Archaeology.

16 March, 2016

This talk will summarise 22 years of excavation at the 9000 year-old Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. The site was first excavated by James Mellaart in the 1960s and recent research has led to many changes in the way the site is understood. The talk will focus on some aspects of this new understanding, particularly with regard to social and political organisation, burial practices and history making.

An additional focus will be on how inter-personal violence was managed in a town that contained up to 8000 people. The new understanding of Çatalhöyük is also shown to be relevant for other sites in the Middle East and for the adoption of agriculture and settled life.


Professor Ian Hodder

Professor Ian Hodder is Professor of Anthropology and Dunlevie Family Professor at Stanford University, California. Awarded a PhD by the University of Cambridge for research on spatial analysis in archaeology in 1974, Professor Hodder went on to conduct excavations in the United Kingdom and Italy and ethnographic fieldwork in Sudan and Kenya. He was the Director-General of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit from 1990 to 2001, the Director of Training, Education, Management and Prehistory in the Eastern Mediterranean from 2002 to 2004, and is currently Co-Investigator of an Economic and Social Research Council funded project entitled ‘Ritual, Community and Conflict’.

Professor Hodder has directed excavations and conservation at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey from 1993. Consisting of an international team of archaeologists, the Çatalhöyük Research Project has shed light on the development of one of the world’s earliest societies and the transition of its people from hunting and gathering to agriculture and urbanism. In 2002 he was awarded the National Prize by the Turkish Minister of Culture for scientific contributions to Turkish archaeology.

Professor Hodder has drawn on the archaeology of Çatalhöyük in his recent theory of entanglement. This theory builds on his longstanding interest in the interrelationship of humans and the material world as a defining characteristic of human history and culture.

Professor Hodder is the author and editor of some 38 volumes and monographs. Among his publications are Symbols in Action (1982), Reading the Past (1986), The Domestication of Europe (1990), The Archaeological Process (1999), Çatalhöyük: The Leopard’s Tale (2006), and Entangled: An archaeology of the Relationship between Humans and Things (2012).