The cemeteries of Çatalhöyük from Christianity to Islam

Full Title: The Cemeteries of Çatalhöyük from Christianity to Islam: constructing memory, burying the dead and knowing God

Year(s):  2015-2017

Grant Recipient: Sophie Moore, Newcastle University


Sophie Moore

Michelle Gamble, Austrian Academy of Sciences Vienna 

Funding:  BIAA

Under BIAA SRI(s):  Religion and politics in historical perspective 



Above the Neolithic levels at Çatalhöyük is a cemetery which was in use discontinuously from the 1st to the 17th century AD. The historic period cemetery at Çatalhöyük has four distinct phases of burial. These comprise a set of furnished 1st – 4th century AD Roman tombs, a group of plain earth graves which are likely to be Christian and two Islamic phases of burial, the latest of which dates from the 17th century Ottoman period.

Our primary objective is to complete the bio-cultural study of 190 excavated well contextualised burials. This involves analysing and cataloguing both the human osteological remains (analysis undertaken by Dr Michelle Gamble) as well as the stratigraphy, form of the graves and small finds from grave contexts (the focus of Dr Sophie Moore). The combined nature of these separate studies allows us to discuss the mortuary practices of the populations buried on site, as well as issues of identity and communities of care at the site. In addition to producing the site archive and final publications for the cemetery, our goal is to consider the nature of memory and knowledge for each post-Chalcolithic group using the site as a location for burial. Each group of people buried there found it an appropriate place for burial, we aim to discuss the particular nature of that interaction for each mortuary group, including what they might have known about the past of the mounds themselves. 

Resulting Publications: 

Haddow, S., J.W. Sadvari, C.J. Knüsel, S. V. Moore, C.S. Larsen, S. E. Nugent (in press) ‘Out of Range? Non-normative funerary practices from the Neolithic to the early 20th Century at Çatalhöyük, Turkey’ in T. K. Betsinger, A. B. Scott, A. Tsaliki (eds.) ‘A Bioarchaeological Perspective of Atypical Mortuary Practices: A Geographic and Temporal Investigation’ Volume 1 Gainesville: University of Florida Press.

Moore, S. and Gamble, M. (2016) ‘A Roman Woman from Çatalhöyük’ Heritage Turkey 6:32-34

Moore, S. and Gamble, M. (2015) ‘Bodies of evidence: The Historic Cemeteries of Çatalhöyük’ Heritage Turkey 5:13-15.

Moore, S. (2014) ‘Burials and Identities at Historic Period Çatalhöyük’ Heritage Turkey 4:29

Sophie Moore is a mortuary archaeologist who works on the experienced nature of the past. She has been the primary specialist on site for the post-chalcolithic burials since 2011, building on her doctoral work which focused on mid-Byzantine mortuary practices. Sophie’s work, in collaboration with other members of the historic cemeteries team, aims to complete the final publication of the cemetery which has been under periodic excavation since 1993. She is also using the mortuary evidence to consider the relationships between the different mortuary populations and the past of the mounds, exploring the difference between memory and knowledge of the past. 

Belongs to;
Archaeology and Related Disciplines

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