The UNESCO World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük is a unique example of a well-preserved Neolithic settlement and for decades has been considered one of the key sites for understanding human prehistory. A major exhibition celebrating the site and the science of archaeology, ‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’ , will be held at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), Russell Square, from 12 October to 15 December 2018 . The exhibition reveals the ‘behind the scenes’ of a pioneer excavation and research project of one of the most complex societies of its time.
Çatalhöyük is a Neolithic settlement located in the Konya plain of central Turkey. Since 1993, under the supervision of British archaeologist Professor Ian Hodder , the Çatalhöyük Research Project has been shedding light on how one of the world’s earliest societies made the transition from hunting to farming and how it was organised socio-economically.
ANAMED’s major exhibition in 2017, ‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’ was developed to celebrate the 25t h and final excavation season of the Çatalhöyük Research Project. Known for its fascinating, cutting-edge archaeological research methods and laboratory collaborations, the exhibition presents the Çatalhöyük excavation through various experiment-based display features, including 3D prints of finds, laser-scanned overviews of excavation areas, and immersive digital displays that bring the 9000-year-old settlement back to life.
‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’ narrates the reflexive methods of the excavation through all its phases, starting from the moment the trowel touches the soil to the documentation of the finds, the laboratory analysis, and the sharing of information. Although traditional excavation remains the primary form of investigation at Çatalhöyük, digital, experimental, and visual reconstruction methods are increasingly employed to aid research and interpretation. This experimental legacy is reflected in exhibition displays and is complemented by incorporative artistic interventions, which underline how the site has been subject to various artworks.
As part of the exhibition, an award-winning immersive digital sculpture is commissioned to the media artist Refik Anadol from Turkey. Anadol developed a digital installation using Çatalhöyük Research Project’s archive, which consists of 2.8 million data records tied to 250,000 finds. By employing machine learning algorithms to sort relations among these records, Anadol transforms this knowledge into an immersive media installation that transcends research, archaeology, art, and technology.
This exhibition is organised by Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) , managed by Şeyda Çetin, and curated by Duygu Tarkan, with contributions from Ian Hodder and other Çatalhöyük Research Project team members. The exhibition is designed by PATTU Architecture with the support of Yapı Kredi Bank that is one of the main sponsors of Çatalhöyük excavations since 1997 and the technological sponsorship of Grundig.