The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Neolithic population movement in Central Anatolia


1Central Identification Laboratory, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, 2Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

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The Neolithic period of Central Anatolia in Turkey is broadly recognized for its position in the study of early farming societies. At around 7500 BC settlement patterns in Central Anatolia shifted to the west with the abandonment and creation of several sites. Notably, Aşıklı Höyük and Musular were left and the site of Çatalhöyük emerged. It has been hypothesized that this time represents a new configuration of regional population dispersal and that sites may have been aggregating, and Çatalhöyük may represent a nucleation of smaller sites. To test this hypothesis a biological distance analysis was conducted comparing dental data from Aşıklı Höyük, Musular, and Çatalhöyük against an outgroup, a sample of late skeletons also recovered from Çatalhöyük (AD 310 – 1650).

Various multivariate statistical treatments of dental metrics and morphology indicate that all three Neolithic samples are quite similar. These findings seem to confirm the hypothesis that Çatalhöyük could be comprised of other smaller sites and that perhaps as a reliance on agriculture increased so did the need for agglomerated communities. Data also show the Neolithic samples clustering with the late sample. It has been suggested that colonizing farmers of mainland Europe were likely descendent from Central Anatolian populations (Pinhasi and Pluciennik, 2004), which may explain these results. Neolithic populations of Central Anatolia may be ancestral to several later populations of Europe and the Near East. These results contribute to studies on Central Anatolia population movement as well as the movement of these populations beyond these borders.

Funded by grants from The Ohio State University, American Research Institute in Turkey (Pilloud), and National Geographic Society (Larsen).

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