The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Postmarital residence in Neolithic Anatolia


Central Identification Laboratory, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command

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The Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey (7400 – 5600 cal BC) is well-known for the female symbolic imagery discovered there, including the so-called goddess figurines. The presence of such artifacts has led some researchers to conclude that Çatalhöyük engaged in a form of fertility worship with the female as the central figure. This type of worship coupled with the fact that Çatalhöyük was an early agricultural center has led others to argue that Çatalhöyük was a matriarchal society. However, archaeological studies of the site have shown that there is very little difference between the sexes in terms of diet, activity, and mortuary treatment. The present study tests the hypothesis of a female centered society through a post marital residence analysis based on dental metrics and morphology. Data were collected on adult dentition from Çatalhöyük and two other Neolithic sites in Anatolia: Aşıklı Höyük and Musular. Data from males and females were compared within Çatalhöyük and between the three Neolithic sites to assess dental phenotypic variation.

Within Çatalhöyük univariate variance differences indicate that females show more variation in dental size than do males. Between the three sites univariate tests of dental size found males to be largely different and females to be more similar. Dental morphology identified few differences within Çatalhöyük or between the three sites for males or females. Based on these results it appears that females were the more mobile sex, which is consistent with expectations of a patrilocal society.

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

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