June 29, 2011

Çatalhöyük: people buried together probably not related

As you probably know, Çatalhöyük (near Konya, Turkey) is one of the most emblematic sties of Middle Neolithic. 

As genetic research was fruitless (bone contamination, degradation), a study of dental morphology was done in order to estimate if people buried together were related, because close relatives should have close dental morphology. The result was negative for all but (maybe) one tomb, strongly suggesting that the Çatalhöyük community did not give any importance to relatedness at least for funerary rituals and related beliefs. 


  1. the first thing that jumped to my mind, while reading your post was "well, not genetically related at least ;)

  2. You mean that couples could be together? Sure, why not, but there are as many as 30 people in each burial so in any case was anything but a cozy and intimate afterlife home.

    You probably know better than I do about the likelihood of genetic relatedness being deduced from teeth, what do you think? Is it reliable?

  3. I've recently been told (by an expert antropologist) that some dental features are quite robust for that kind of inference. Specially if you work with sizeable samples.
    Back to my 1st comment, what i wanted to express is that my "archaeological biased brain" first produced that idea: "well, but it has to be some kind of relationship between them". If they're not genetically related... that's quite interesting, but mainly as a negative evidence. What i dont see very plausible is a completely "un-structured" burial practice.

  4. "What i dont see very plausible is a completely "un-structured" burial practice".

    Sure but we do not know which was the structure they used. Their society and urbanism is very peculiar and there are more questions than answers about these people.


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