Bioarchaeology of Neolithic Çatalhöyük reveals fundamental transitions in health, mobility, and lifestyle in early farmers.
The transition from a human diet based exclusively on wild plants and animals to one involving dependence on domesticated plants and animals beginning 10,000 to 11,000 y ago in Southwest Asia set into motion a series of profound health, lifestyle, social, and economic changes affecting human populations throughout most of the world. However, the social, cultural, behavioral, and other factors surrounding health and lifestyle associated with the foraging-to-farming transition are vague, owing to an incomplete or poorly understood contextual archaeological record of living conditions. Bioarchaeological investigation of the extraordinary record of human remains and their context from Neolithic Çatalhöyük (7100-5950 cal BCE), a massive archaeological site in south-central Anatolia (Turkey), provides important perspectives on population dynamics, health outcomes, behavioral adaptations, interpersonal conflict, and a record of community resilience over the life of this single early farming settlement having the attributes of a protocity. Study of Çatalhöyük human biology reveals increasing costs to members of the settlement, including elevated exposure to disease and labor demands in response to community dependence on and production of domesticated plant carbohydrates, growing population size and density fueled by elevated fertility, and increasing stresses due to heightened workload and greater mobility required for caprine herding and other resource acquisition activities over the nearly 12 centuries of settlement occupation. These changes in life conditions foreshadow developments that would take place worldwide over the millennia following the abandonment of Neolithic Çatalhöyük, including health challenges, adaptive patterns, physical activity, and emerging social behaviors involving interpersonal violence.
Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1106; firstname.lastname@example.org. De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement, et Anthropologie, UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux, 33615 Pessac Cedex, France. Department of Archaeology and History of Art, Koç University, 34450 Istanbul, Turkey. Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV 89667. Department of Anthropology, University of Zürich-Irchel, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland. Anthropological Museum, University of Zürich-Irchel, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland. University Libraries, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1106. Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7WZ, United Kingdom. Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287. Department of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Skeletal Biology Research Centre, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NR, United Kingdom. Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1106. De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel: Culture, Environnement, et Anthropologie, UMR 5199, Université de Bordeaux, 33615 Pessac Cedex, France. Department of Biology, University of Florence, 50122 Florence, Italy. Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada.