Daily Activities, Diet and Resource Use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük

Microstratigraphic and biomolecular evidence from middens

Lisa-Marie Shillito


This research examines formation processes of middens and the associated activities at the site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Using this site as a case study, this research has wider significance for understanding the Neolithic of the region and for the study of middens in general. Middens are a unique deposit in that they contain traces of activities that may not be found in cleaner contexts such as floors, and contain materials such as ash, animal dung, phytoliths and coprolites which can inform on plant resource use, diet and subsistence strategies at a high temporal resolution. In this research thin section micromorphology is used, combined with phytolith analysis of individual layers, to examine both the composition and associations of finely stratified midden deposits in situ. Additional analyses of mineral components using FT-IR and SEM-EDX has been carried out, along with biomolecular analysis of organic residues in coprolites by GC-MS, to further characterise material that is difficult to analyse by thin section alone. This integrated analysis contributes to the understanding of midden formation processes and activities, as well as environment, agriculture, plant resource use, diet and fuel use.