The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük

The exhibition “The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük” is developed to celebrate the 25th excavation season of the Çatalhöyük Research Project. Known for its fascinating cutting-edge archaeological research methods, and laboratory collaborations, Çatalhöyük is presented through experiment-based display features including 3D prints of finds, laser-scanned overviews of excavation areas, and immersive Virtual Reality (VR) opportunities that bring the 9000-year-old Çatalhöyük settlement back to life. The exhibition will remain open at the ANAMED Gallery in Istanbul from 21 June 2017 to 18 February 2018.

Çatalhöyük is a Neolithic settlement, located in the Konya plain, in central Turkey. It has been excavated under the directorship of Ian Hodder since 1993 and has resulted in universally significant research. The exhibition project was developed under the supervision of Ian Hodder and curated by Duygu Tarkan with the contributions of researchers from the Çatalhöyük Research Project. The exhibition is designed by PATTU Architecture and made possible by the support of Yapı Kredi Bank that is one of the main sponsors of Çatalhöyük excavations since 1997 and the technological sponsorship of Arçelik.

“The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük” narrates the reflexive methods of the excavations from the initial phase when the trowel touches the soil to the documentation of the finds, from laboratory analysis to the transfer of information. It sheds light on the work of the research team of international specialists and elucidates the various stages of an excavation project. Although field excavation remains a primary form of investigation at Çatalhöyük, digital, experimental and visual reconstruction methods are increasingly employed to aid research and interpretation. This legacy is reflected in exhibition displays with 3D printed replicas of selected finds as well as laser-scanned overviews of the mounds. A VR project presents an immersive recreation of the Çatalhöyük settlement. Equipped with VR headsets, visitors will be transported back into a Çatalhöyük building to observe what life was like back then.

This contemporary approach is followed by incorporative artistic interventions to underline how the site has been subject to various artworks and offers new perspectives to understand the life at Çatalhöyük. Additionally, more than 500 articles and books published on Çatalhöyük have been compiled for the exhibition and displayed in the ANAMED Library with the opportunity to examine all of the written sources on one of the most complex societies of its time.

Commissioned as part of the exhibition artist Refik Anadol developed a media installation by using Çatalhöyük Research Project’s archive of 2.8 million data records of 250,000 finds. By employing machine learning algorithms to sort relations among these records, Anadol transforms this knowledge into an immersive media installation that transcends research, archaeology, art, and technology.

Parallel Event 23 September 2017 | Performance: One by Nazlı Gürlek

Organised as part of the exhibition, the performance was inspired by a wall painting dated around 6500 BC, discovered in Building 80 at Çatalhöyük. The project is also an attempt at an artistic adaptation of the archaeological methodology of the Çatalhöyük project based on "reflexivity, interactivity, multivocality, and contextuality."

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