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The human remains lab at Çatalhöyük

The human remains lab at Çatalhöyük.

My wife Camilla and I arrived at Çatalhöyük on Sunday morning with Christopher Knüsel after flying into Konya from Istanbul.  Sabrina Agarwal joined us a day later with her graduate student Inbal. Clark Spencer Larsen and his graduate students Josh and Barbara arrived two days before us. With the arrival of Bonnie Glencross this morning, the Çatalhöyük 2012 human remains team is assembled and ready for action. 

There have been a number of personnel changes on the project in the last few seasons. Several of the specialist team leaders have moved on, including my former degree supervisor Simon Hillson. As a result, Christopher Knüsel from Exeter University has joined the human remains team as co-director alongside Clark Larsen. The bulk of the excavators have also been replaced with a new team made up of Swedish and Polish archaeologists, which means most of them will have to be brought up to speed with the excavation and recording methodology used at Çatalhöyük. Our numbers on site have been rising all week and we are expecting a maximum of 128 project members by mid-July.

Human remains crates

Crates containing human remains excavated at Çatalhöyük.

Until digging begins next week, we’ve been catching up on processing the human remains excavated last season and getting them into the database. We’ve also been meeting with many of the new team leaders from the other specialist labs such as the zooarchaeology and lithics teams. The human remains team is entering a new research phase, building upon the work of the last eight years and coming up with ideas for new collaborative projects aimed at addressing long-standing questions of Neolithic mobility and resource acquisition, health and diet, population structure and mortuary practices.

Examining possible cut marks on bone with a digital microscope

Human remains team members examining possible cut marks on bone.

While the accommodations and lab facilities on site are top-notch, the living conditions can be cramped and finding a quiet moment can be difficult. In addition, there is only a single computer connected to an ancient dial-up internet connection. As such, many of us make the trip into Konya on Fridays (our day off) to use the Dedeman hotel’s wireless internet and to take advantage of the swimming pool. During a long hot excavation season, little luxuries like these can make a big difference. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the pool.