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.