Çatalhöyük Poster accepted for London Geological Society Mtg

GPR Catalhoyuk

Just a quick post as our poster for the London Geological Society Conference on Recent Work in Archaeological Geophysics was accepted today! I’ve included a preliminary abstract below, but will be making some amendments before the printed version goes live at the meeting.  Very excited, as it gives us some incentive to work on the data soon, as well as publicize the great results! For more information on the survey and the project please see my previous post.

Poster Abstract
Recent Work in Archaeological Geophysics
Geological Society of London, 2 Day Meeting: Dec. 15-16, 2010

Recent Geophysical Survey at the site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey

Jessica Ogden1, Kristian Strutt2, Graeme Earl3, Ian Hodder4

1 L – P: Archaeology, Ltd.
2 Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton, University of Southampton
3 Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton
4 Çatalhöyük Research Project, Stanford University

As part of the ongoing research being currently conducted at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, L – P: Archaeology and the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton (APSS), in a joint collaboration between the University of Southampton and the Çatalhöyük Research Project, were invited to conduct a pilot geophysical study on the East Mound. Though previous magnetic, resistivity, and GPR surveys were conducted in 1995 (Clark 1996) and 2000 (Dobbs and Johnson 2000), it was determined that given recent technological advancements in geophysical survey in archaeology, the site might potentially provide an opportunity for not only geophysical research but also for the advancement of the overall understanding of unexcavated structures within the tell.

The geophysical survey was initiated with the aim of locating and mapping the remains of sub-surface archaeological deposits across the East Mound. The site produced a number of challenges to geophysical survey. First it was determined that the general nature of the archaeological deposits at Çatalhöyük is such that an integrated approach to geophysical survey was necessary for a successful outcome. As the mud brick houses and living surfaces were made from the local sediments, it was feared that this lack of compositional variation between the surrounding subsoil and the structural remains might prevent the detection of archaeological deposits within the geophysical results. Additionally, the different levels of overburden between the highest and lowest slopes of the tell in turn varied the depth and resolution for which archaeological deposits could potentially be detected. With all of these factors in mind, GPR and fluxgate gradiometry were chosen with the hope that with the combination of excavation evidence, magnetic signatures, and the benefits of detecting features at depth, the pilot survey would prove successful in advancing knowledge about buried remains at Çatalhöyük.

To date, the gradiometer survey has covered ca. 5ha of the East Mound at a 0.1 nT resolution, and 0.5m x 0.25m survey interval using a Bartington Grad601-2 dual-sensor fluxgate gradiometer. The gradiometer survey was overseen by Kristian Strutt, and has thus far been very successful in detecting evidence for burnt structures at the highest point of the East mound, as well as identifying additional linear features near the excavation areas. However, site conditions such as extensive rodent burrows, and metallic debris and structures protecting the excavated remains have potentially masked subtle changes in the magnetic gradient in these areas.

In addition to the magnetic survey, a small overlapping 60m x 40m area, was surveyed using a Sensors and Software Noggin Plus GPR with a 500MHz antenna and Smartcart frame, at a 0.25m line spacing. The GPR survey, overseen by Jessica Ogden, was located along the north side of the “4040” shelter on the northern side of the East Mound. As one of the aims of the survey was to determine the applicability of GPR in resolving features at depth at Çatalhöyük, a test area was chosen which overlapped with previously excavated structural remains and living spaces. This survey area then provided depth calibration data for known features within the results, as well as additional identifiers which assisted in feature classification and interpretation. Preliminary results have proven successful in corroborating previously excavated near surface walls and interior rooms, as well as identifying additional linear alignments extending to the north along this side of the tell. These results have shown a series of structures, typical in size and organization to those fully excavated structures on the East Mound.  In addition, they support the prevailing assumption that the organization of this community of living spaces extends in a ‘radial’ pattern around this edge of the mound.

With the success of this 2010 pilot season, it is our hope to extend the GPR survey to cover the entirety of the East and West Mounds, and the magnetic survey to include parts of the surrounding landscape. With a greater surface area surveyed, the geophysical survey combined with excavation evidence could potentially contribute to questions about the spatial organization and social hierarchy of buildings and spaces within the site, as well as address questions concerning the situation of Çatalhöyük within the landscape as a whole.

Project Acknowledgements:
The geophysical survey conducted at Çatalhöyük in June 2010 was funded by Stanford University via the Çatalhöyük Research Project and by the University of Southampton via the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton and the Çatalhöyük Visualisation Project (directed by Stephanie Moser). The field survey would also not have been possible without the dedication and assistance of survey team members Grant Cox and Eleonora Gandolfi.


Dobbs, C. A. and D. Johnson. 2000. “Field report on geophysical investigations.” Çatalhöyük 2000 Archive Report. http://www.catalhoyuk.com/archive_reports/2000/ar00_06.html

Shell, C. 1996. “Magnetometric survey at Çatalhöyük East.” In I. Hodder (ed) On the surface: Çatalhöyük 1993-95. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.


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