ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Archaeologist James Mellaart, who is known for his discovery of Turkey’s Çatalhöyük, has died at the age of 87.
British archaeologist and author James Mellaart, who is known for his discovery of the Neolithic settlement of the ancient site of Çatalhöyük in the central Anatolian province of Konya, has died in England at the age of 87. He was the world’s most talked-about archaeologist in the 1960s and published a book titled “Çatalhöyük, A Neolithic Town in Anatolia” in 1967.
Born in 1925 in London, Mellaart lectured at Istanbul University and was an assistant director at the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara. In 1951 Mellaart began to direct the excavations of sites in Turkey. He helped to identify the “champagne-glass” pottery of western Anatolia from the Late Bronze Age. After that expedition’s completion in 1959, he helped to publish its results. In 1964 he began to lecture in Ankara.
When he excavated the Çatalhöyük site in 1961, his team found more than 150 rooms and buildings, some decorated with murals, plaster reliefs and sculptures. The site has since been seen as important because it has helped in the study of the social and cultural dynamics of one of the earliest large permanently occupied farming settlements in the Near East.
Mellaart excavated the site for four years but, when previously unknown Turkish antiquities thought to have originated from some of his earlier digs surfaced in the art world, the Turkish authorities canceled his excavation permit and he was thereafter barred from his most famous discovery.
Mellaart returned to London where he lectured at the Institute of Archaeology until his retirement. His funeral will be held on Aug.