Curator: Duygu Tarkan
Exhibition Management & Gallery Curator: Şeyda Çetin
Design: PATTU Architecture
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük is a unique example of a well-preserved Neolithic settlement and for decades has been considered one of the key sites for understanding human prehistory. A major exhibition celebrating the site and the science of archaeology, ‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’, will be held at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), Russell Square, from 12 October to 15 December 2018. The exhibition reveals the ‘behind the scenes’ of a pioneer excavation and research project of one of the most complicated societies of its time.
Çatalhöyük is a Neolithic settlement located in the Konya plain of central Türkiye. Since 1993, under the supervision of British archaeologist Ian Hodder, the Çatalhöyük Research Project has been shedding light on how one of the world’s earliest societies made the transition from hunting to farming and how it was organised socio-economically.
‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’ was developed to celebrate the 25th and final excavation season of the Çatalhöyük Research Project. Known for its fascinating, cutting-edge archaeological research methods and laboratory collaborations, the exhibition presents the Çatalhöyük excavation through various experiment-based display features, including 3D prints of finds, laser-scanned overviews of excavation areas, and immersive digital displays that bring the 9000-year-old settlement back to life.
‘The Curious Case of Çatalhöyük’ narrates the reflexive methods of the excavation through all its phases, starting from the moment the trowel touches the soil to the documentation of the finds, the laboratory analysis, and the sharing of information. Although traditional excavation remains the primary form of investigation at Çatalhöyük, digital, experimental, and visual reconstruction methods are increasingly employed to aid research and interpretation. This experimental legacy is reflected in exhibition displays and is complemented by incorporative artistic interventions, which underline how the site has been subject to various artworks.
Highlights of the show include an award-winning immersive digital sculpture commissioned as part of the exhibition. Media artist Refik Anadol developed a digital installation using Çatalhöyük Research Project’s archive, which consists of 2.8 million data records tied to 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.
This exhibition is organised by Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED), curated by Duygu Tarkan, who is a veteran archaeologist from Çatalhöyük and managed by Şeyda Çetin, with the contributions of the excavation director Ian Hodder and researchers from the Çatalhöyük Research Project. The exhibition is designed by PATTU Architecture with the support of Yapı Kredi Bank.
Parallel Event: 20–24 November 2018 | Experience Çatalhöyük Trough Virtual Reality
The Virtual Reality (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 life 9,000 years ago. Visitors will enter the Neolithic period, walk around the mud-brick houses of Çatalhöyük, virtually ‘pick up’ objects from the floor, witness the honeycomb-like architectural style from the rooftops, and see the landscape of the Konya plain.