The Catal Hoyuk “map”

As some may know, the archaeological site once called Catal Huyuk, now usually called Catalhoyuk (usually said to mean “forked mound” or a double mound) is an interest of mine, kind of a hobby. The most well known manifestation of that hobby is my old article “Catal Huyuk: The Temple City of Prehistoric Anatolia“.

That old article starts with an image that is often described as the oldest map in the world, the “catalhoyuk map” – altho I describe it differently, I call it one of the oldest known examples of a “landscape painting”. Here’s a bad example of the image:

The Catal Huyuk Map, the worlds oldest landscape painting, or something else?

All along there has been a lot of disagreement about this image. Mellart’s book ‘cleaned up’ a lot of the badly damaged murals and wall paintings uncovered during his rushed old-style excavations, and frankly, it’s very hard to tell exactly what the wall paintings actually show. The common interpretation, that the shape on the wall represents the volcano now called Hasan Dag in an eruption (thus making the painting a landscape, and implying that the squarish cells painted in black underneath are an image of the town), has been questioned before.

And now from a cartographer an article that makes a good simple presentation of the arguments for the idea that the catalhoyuk wall painting isn’t a map NOR a landscape.

Why the World’s Oldest Map Isn’t a Map

It’s short, has some good illustrations, worth your time if you have an interest in ancient cultures.

3 comments to The Catal Hoyuk “map”

  • map of consciousness

    hmmm. interesting…. How old is this supposed to be?

  • I do find it difficult to understand the the mural really “is.”

  • Bill

    So, are you affiliated with Hawkins and that publishing business? If you are going to promo hawkins books you should pick a post that’s a bit more in line with their kind of content to place short and essentially commercial oneliner “comments” into.

    But because, who knows, perhaps for some person the Hawkins stuff, as specialized and idiosyncratic as it is, will be the bootsrap they can use to get themselves from one problem to another, I’ll leave one link up.

    Anyway, as to how old, probably about 8000 years old, give or take 500 years.

    You know what the interesting question is – it’s this – where are the original photos and negatives of the most famous photos of that mural, and can they be examined using modern technology in a way that produces better quality images of the wall as it was freshly uncovered with the least damage and aging?

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1 year 4 months ago

From this article:

His argument is based on the fact that for more than 99 per cent of human evolutionary history, we have lived as hunter-gatherer communities surviving on our wits, leading to big-brained humans. Since the invention of agriculture and cities, however, natural selection on our intellect has effective stopped and mutations have accumulated in the critical “intelligence” genes.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas and a clear-sighted view of important issues,” Professor Crabtree says in a provocative paper published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

“Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2,000 to 6,000 years ago,” Professor Crabtree says.

“The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile,” he says.


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