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Publication details for Professor John Wainwright

Wainwright, J. (2020). Çatalhöyük and Its Landscapes. Near Eastern Archaeology 83(2): 88-97.

Author(s) from Durham


T he landscape surrounding the site of Çatalhöyük has been transformed by centuries of land use and agricultural improvements (fig. 1). The most recent transformations started in the early twentieth century aiming to improve agricultural productivity by carrying out extensive irrigation and land-reclamation programs (Roberts 1990). Irrigation water was brought via the Beyşehir-Sugla canal system which was completed around 1911 (Money 1919), bringing irrigation water from Lake Beyşehir to the south. Further regulation of water supplies in the 1950s and 1960s included the construction of the Apa Dam on the Çarşamba River (completed in 1962) and World Bank support for extending irrigation schemes (fig. 2). Unsurprisingly, archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence from Çatalhöyük suggests significantly different environments at the time of occupation from that of the modern landscape. Therefore, it is essential for archaeological interpretations to be underpinned by robust palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.

Figure 1. The East Mound from the east, showing concrete irrigation channels and sprinkler irrigation from the latest phase of landscape modification.

Figure 2. Channelized water system in the modern landscape: (a) the modern Çarşamba River is confined to a concrete channel immediately adjacent to the site; and (b) a deep irrigation ditch to the south of the site used to provide water to surrounding fields (via pumps and the concrete channels seen in fig. 1).