They had just removed the plaster from the adjoining wall and found that the handprints continued across the room. Left is the photo I took yesterday. The wall from last year is covered and although you can’t see, the archeologists are examining, and maybe very delicately exposing the handprints that were discovered minutes ago. It was kind of a thrill to witness even a minor discovery.
Altthough many features are excavated (houses, walls, figurines, pottery, body adornments and trash, which tells archeologists a lot about how people lived) archeologists tell me that tourists almost always zero in on the burials. I’ll admit I’m one of them.
There are several levels of burials at Çatal. Neolithic burials are the oldest and obviously of the most interest to the archaeologists. Still, the later burials (Roman, Byzantine and even Ottoman) are given just as much attention and care. Here is my buddy Jack (wearing a Kansas Jaayhawk t-shirt) working on a Roman burial.
Scott has a blog documenting this season’s work at Çatal. Much more professional and articulate than anything I can post. Please check it out.
Here is Katya, from Poland, working on a multiple burial.
Neolithics, for some unknown reason, often buried more than one person in one grave. Yesterday Jenny and Alison were finishing a burial in which there were four individuals. Three adults and one child. It looked like after the first body decomposed, they pushed the bones aside and buried two other people. Somewhere along the way, there was also a child. The graves are under platforms inside the houses. The bones are sometimes sticky and there is speculation that they were covered with some sort of liquid to minimize the odor.
Katya’s grave looks like there were two skulls but actually there were four. Later I saw her delicately carrying those remaining two skulls on a tray to the human remains lab.
A little later I had a session with Jenny, also on the human remains team. I wanted to interview her because she made an interesting post on the digital diary about skeletons and how archaeologists treat them. “I've always thought while excavating human burials that if we're going to remove them from their resting place, we should at least do it with dignity and respect.”
I should also add: on Scott’s desk sits an actual skull, wearing - uhm - a skull cap. I’m almost certain it’s real. I didn’t want to ask. I love archaeological wit.