ARCHAEOLOGY >Çatalhöyük figurines symbolize ‘elderly women, not Cybele’

KONYA – Doğan News Agency

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Two plump woman figurines unearthed in the 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük represent elderly women, not the Anatolian mother goddess Cybele as was earlier believed, according to an expert.

“These figurines symbolize old women that have high status in the society instead of goddesses,” excavation supervisor Professor Ian Hodder of Stanford University said about the figurines that have distinctive bellies, breasts and hips.

After Çatalhöyük’s discovery in 1958 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya by James Mellaart, the ancient settlement was excavated in 1961, 1963 and 1965. After a long break, excavation works restarted in 1993 under the supervision of Hodder.

Hodder said there were interesting findings in this year’s excavation. In a report on the diggings, Hodder said there were two figurines that have distinctive bellies, breasts and thighs discovered on a grave in close proximity to the east walls.

“We think that the figurine was placed there intentionally,” Hodder said.

“This marble figurine was discovered next to an obsidian knife. After a few days, another figurine made of limestone was discovered. The second figurine has a piece of galena that is shiny and reflective and two beads around its head. It also has two tiny holes like it was carried around like a pendant,” Hodder said.

Hodder said the places the figurines were discovered were intentionally chosen and were very significant. 

“The places the figurines were discovered and their burial with objects like obsidian and galena is not common. This makes us think that the figurines were buried there to replace the bodies,” he added.

Hodder said when the figurines were discovered, the media introduced the figurines as Mother Goddess Cybele. “Researchers Lynn Meskell, Carolyn Nakamura and Lindsay Der have proven that the distinctive bellies, breasts and thighs of the figurines indicate that these figurines symbolized elderly women who had prestige and social status.”


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