Human Remains up to 1998

Theya Molleson, Peter Andrews, Basak Boz,
Jo Sofaer Derevenski, Jessica Pearson

Archive report on human remains recovered from the Mellaart site up to 1998, together with listings of material from the BACH and West Mound sites 


Neolithic human bone recovered during the 1998 season comprised three skeletons from the Mellaart site. These are reported on together with the human remains that were recovered from the Mellaart site during the 1997 season. 

Isolated fragments of at least three individuals were recovered from Neolithic contexts on the BACH site. In addition the remains of several individuals of probable Roman/Byzantine age were excavated on the BACH site and from a post-Neolithic context on the West mound. 

Mellaart Site

A total of 13 individuals have been excavated from the Mellaart site during the three seasons 1996 (N=0), 1997 (N=10) and 1998 (N=3). The remains of 11 individuals were recovered from Space 112 (Mellaart's Shrine VII.9) including two new-born infants. A third neonate was recovered from Space 109 and a young adult from Space 115. 

Inventory of human skeletons from the Mellaart site 1997, 1998:

Space Burial Skeleton Age Sex
112 83 1884 C, 8y  
112 84 1885 C, 7y  
112 - 2017 N  
112 84 2033 C, 3y  
112 89 2056 MA M
112 89 2058 OA F
112 251 2362 N  
112 258 2728 I, 15m  
109 264 2772 N  
112 265 2779 I  
112 274 2842 I, 2y  
112 277 2886 MA M
115 285 3368 YA M

Descriptions of Human Remains

1884, Space 112, B83

Tightly flexed articulated skeleton, with clay ball in front of face (cf. Mellaart 1964, 52-4, Pl.Va) and lying on left side facing in to the room. The head was to the ESE and was twisted and pushed down to the left, so that the face was directed downwards. The right arm was flexed and the hand contacted the left tibia. Both legs were tightly flexed, knees against chest, and on the right foot the toes had been pushed back against the bottom of the foot. Burial was in a confined space, indicated both by the flexion and the distortion, and it was primary, indicated by the presence of most phalanges, both patellae in articulation, and parts of the hyoid. This burial was nearly exposed by Mellaart's excavation and so it has been near the surface and exposed to weathering since that time. 

The complete skeleton of an 8 year old child. The child appeared to have a pre-auricular sulcus on each ilium, and cribra femora, both features that could be associated with a habit of sitting cross-legged. The femora show marked torsion of the shaft which is tentatively identified with the habit of sitting with the knees together and the lower legs folded back so that the heels touch the buttocks. (The "mother goddess" position). There is no specific word in Turkish (still less in English) for this position although it is often taken up by the women working in the kitchen. The first metatarsals have extended articulations that are associated with a habit of kneeling with the toes curled under. 

1885, space 112, B84

Loosely flexed articulated juvenile skeleton associated with 2033, another child, lying on the left side facing SW towards the closely adjacent south wall. The head was to the east and tilted forwards. The right arm was extended towards the right knee and the left arm also extended to below the femur. The right leg was partly flexed with the foot back towards the pelvis, but the left leg was extended at the hip but bent strongly at the knee. The skeleton is nearly complete, with most phalanges and one patella in articulation, and so it is probably a primary burial. Most bones are in good condition with little surface modification except for scattered manganese staining. They have a light yellow-orange staining, similar to but not as strong as seen on skeleton 2033. The burial was later covered by the second phase wall in space 112. 

The complete skeleton of a seven year old child. The patella is ossified and fusion of the distal epiphysis of the first metatarsal had started. 

Pathology. There is marked cribra in both orbits possibly indicative of long standing anaemia associated with parasite infection (malaria was proposed by Angel 1964). The build up of considerable amounts of calculus on the lingual side of the lower teeth, the incisors especially, and on the buccal side of the upper teeth, regions of salivary ducts, implies a lack of self cleaning or self-cleansing foods and could indicate that the child had been sickly for some time before death. 

The child had mild spina bifida occulta with open neural arches of S1, S4 and S5. These neural tube defects have been associated with maternal folic acid deficiency before and during pregnancy. The cribra orbitalia could be linked to this defect. 

2017, Space 112, Unit 2013

The skeleton of an infant was recovered from building fill (2013) sealing a fire installation. The left tibia-fibula were articulated but all other bones disarticulated. Blackening of the skull where it was closest to the oven suggests that the oven was in use after the baby's body had been placed behind it. Several of the ribs also were blackened on their ends closest to the oven. The blackening has two sources, with some manganese staining, but on the parts of the bones closest to the oven there was a black tarry substance not seen before. This has not been identified, but it seems likely that it comes from heat from the oven (See S. Farid 1997, Archive Report, Fig.4

The partially complete skeleton of a neonatal infant including the skull, part of the spine, tibia and fibula of one leg only. 

2033, Space 112, B84

Below burial 1885. Loosely flexed, articulated skeleton lying on the left side facing east. The head was to the north in to the building, and the feet were up against the south wall where they had been disturbed by an animal burrow which has resulted in loss of some bones. The body had been subjected to pressure and the bones are in very poor condition. The right humerus was detached and was behind the ribs. The left arm was also detached and lying on the east side of the body. The left leg was flexed. Most of the right foot is missing but most of the hand phalanges are present. There is localized manganese staining on the bones adjacent to the south wall, particularly the feet, fibulae, the right radius and ulna which were detached and moved to knee region, and the left hand which had also been moved. Most bones have been stained bright orange. Is this staining due to the last medicine or to plant humics in the soil? 

A fairly complete skeleton of a three year old child. Lack of wear on the deciduous molars may indicate that it had not been weaned or if weaned had had a very soft diet. 

Pathology. There is moderate cribra of the left orbit (R not observed). The inner table of the right parietal is remodelled near lambda. 

Burial 89

Double inhumation 2056 male and 2058 female. The body of 2056, an adult male, was placed head to north on top of 2058 a female with head to south. 

2056, Space 112, Burial 89

Partly articulated skeleton of old adult male, articulated but having a displaced femur. The loosely flexed body was placed on the right side, facing west and the head to the north. The right arm was flexed with the hand in front of the face. The left arm was bent back with the radius and ulna displaced back over the shoulder with the hand behind the scapula. The right leg was bent at the hip and knee, the foot flexed at the ankle. The left leg was also bent at the knee, with the head of the femur up against the back of the head, the knee below the left hip with the tibia-fibula parallel to the grave cut, and the foot extended at the ankle, with the toes reaching the edge of the cut. The left leg was still fully articulated, with the patella in place, and so it must have moved or been moved to its present position while still articulated. One possibility is that it had sprung out of the acetabulum after burial, the momentum taking it along the individual's back, to lie parallel to and on top of the spine, and drawing down the knee. Another possibility is that this is a secondary burial, the left leg having become separated from the rest of the body and placed in this position at the time of the secondary burial. The left foot however underlies the right and there are no cut marks on the hip bone. All other parts are in articulation and there is little evidence of other than disturbance of a minor nature e.g. separation of the elbow joint. The loose flexing of the limbs suggests that the body was not bound; it may have been in a cloth or basket. 

The underlying body of 2058 was in an extraordinary position, flexed prone, head to south. It is the complete skeleton of a mature-old adult female more lightly built than 2056. The legs were quite tightly flexed at hips and knees but the ankles were extended. The extended feet, the position of the two ilia and the spine indicate that the body had been placed on its front, legs folded under it. The body had soon fallen to its right (west), the head neck and clavicle had displaced to the east and was found in the space between the flexed right femur and tibia of 2056. The right arm had been flexed onto the right shoulder and had essentially remained in place relative to the body. The bones of the right hand were not recovered. 

The left arm had become considerably displaced to the east and rotated through about 180o. It was also disarticulated at the elbow and further displaced to the north. The left hand had remained in articulation (all bones were recovered). 

A flexed body placed on its knees suggests that 2058 had originally been placed in the grave in a cloth or basket. It is the only case of prone burial so far encountered at the site. Most parts of the skeleton were beneath the larger and more robust bones of 2056, and the displacement of 2058 could have happened at the time of placing 2056 on top incidentally or deliberately to lower the space taken by the remains. The right arm being free at the shoulder, would then have been placed on the edge of the grave cut. There is much heavier staining on 2058 than on 2056, with locally dense manganese staining compared with the moderate overall staining on 2056, and reddish iron staining on 2058 not present on 2056. This could have come about when the grave was reopened to admit 2056, the exposure to air promoting both types of staining on 2058. Some of the black staining on the bones of 2058, notably a band across the left humerus tuberosities may relate to a binding or to clothing, and other places appear to be in concavities where liquids could have pooled. The inside of the skull was white and unstained. 

The interval between burial of 2058 and 2056 was not great, though possibly not synchronous if the right arm could be removed so easily; that is unless there was an interval between death and burial of sufficient duration for the limbs to detach readily. This could be a matter of days. 

Detailed description of 2056. (Mixing with 2058 possible). 

The skeleton of a mature gracile male. The bones of the skull are thick and the sutures are obliterated indicative of an old individual, yet wear on the teeth is slight, especially given the probable age of the individual. 

The bodies of all the neck vertebrae are complete; all spinous processes are missing; some facets and transverse processes are fragmented or missing. The joints of the first two cervical vertebrae are notably large. The unciate processes are large on all cervical vertebrae (except C1,C2). The left superior articular facet (SAF) of C3 is distinct and enlarged. The surrounding bone growth is responsive to articulation with the inferior vertebrae. The right SAF is missing. C3-C4, C3 IAF and SAF C4 display severe extensions of the facet margin anteriorly and posteriorly. Extreme asymmetry of osteophyte growth and degeneration to left side. Craters about 1.5mm diameter indicate cartilage resorption. There is eburnation around the anterior margins of the facets. The body displays indications of response to disk pressure. Slight osteophyte growth on inferior margins of the body of C3 in left posterior section. Degenerate change appears to be confined to the mid cervical vertebrae. 

The right SAF of the first thoracic vertebra is distinct, the left facets are missing. There is no evidence of disk damage in the lower regions of the spine (ossified ligament on a lumbar joint, possibly L3). 

The pelvis has a robust but not protruding inguinal tubercle. The femora are strongly buttressed, have short well marked gluteal tuberosities; Poirier's facets and trochanteric spicules are developed. The distal condyles are medially rotated with respect to the head and neck of the femur. 

Squatting facets on the distal right femur and tibia and vastus notching of both patellae, kneeling extensions on right first metatarsal and on both first and second metatarsals of the left foot imply a habit of kneeling with the toes curled under with particular pressure being placed on the left foot. 

Pathology. Degenerative changes of the carpo-metacarpo joints of the right second and third metacarpals, with pitting on the right hamate are probably the result of a hand injury. 

2058 (B89) Possibly mixed with 2056.

The skeleton of an old adult female. The skull bones are not fused, nor are they thickened, but they do show small arachnoid depressions in the parietal. The parietal meninges are abundant and distinct. Discrete thickenings of hyperostosis frontalis interna in the interior of the frontal bone may be associated with obesity and diabetes. HFI is prevalent in women over forty. The cranial sutures are surprisingly open for a woman of this age. 

Detailed description 

The jaw is small and feminine. There is some evidence of dental reduction with absence of a wisdom tooth. 

The lower cervical vertebrae (C4-7) show long standing degenerative changes. The bodies of all vertebrae are complete; all spinous processes are missing, the transverse processes are fragmented. The cervical bodies display indications of severe disk damage or collapse and there is posterior cartilage resorption leading to crater-like depressions on the body and slight eburnation on the superior articular facets (SAFs) and inferior articular facets have fairly distinct margins on both sides. No marked degenerative changes were noted in the thoracic vertebrae, which are generally fragmented however. 

The clavicles and scapulae are gracile without degenerative change. The head of the left humerus has slight lipping of the articular margin, the lesser tubercle is pronounced. Distally the olecranon fossa is deep, imperforate and the trochlea ridge marked. The lateral condyle is damaged so that the radius head imprint cannot be observed. The radius and ulna are gracile. Distally the right humerus has a well marked imprint for the radius head and an eburnated groove on the condyle. There are no degenerative changes to the joint. The radius head has a narrower and rolled articular margin where it impacted on the humerus during a compression flexion of the joint. Such a flexion suggests that a heavy load was habitually carried over the shoulder. There is no evident lateral asymmetry of the forearms. The bones of the left hand are small and gracile. 

A preauricular sulcus and flared subpubic angle indicate a female. There is a long spicule in the preauricular sulcus - an ossified ligament attachment - and strongly developed inguinal tubercle. These are features associated with multiple births and or a protruding stomach. The public symphysis is old. 

The femora are gracile with well developed linea aspera. A distinct Allen's fossa (cribra femoris) on the anterior neck of the left femur and a spicule in the greater trochanter of the right femur suggest habitual rotation of the femora while carrying weight (Angel 1964). The patellae do not have a vastus notch. The tibia-fibula articulation is situated under the proximal articulation which is rolled. 

The bones of both feet are present. There is a resorption sinus in the left calcaneus; evidence of the onset of osteoporosis. There is a healed lesion (osteoma) on the shaft of the right third metatarsal, so she may have limped, avoiding putting weight on her foot. The 'kneeling' articulation on the first metatarsal head is only moderate whereas tubercles are well developed on both toes. 

In conclusion, 2058 was a woman over fifty, obese, who had been in the habit of carrying heavy loads slung over her shoulder. She had sustained an injury to her right foot at some time and possibly limped slightly. This disuse may have brought on the osteoporosis of the calcaneus. The degenerative changes in the neck vertebrae may be the result of neck strain during carrying; otherwise there are virtually no degenerative changes to any of the joints and she remained mobile to the end of her days. 

2362, Space 112, Burial 251.

Loosely flexed burial with a partially articulated skeleton lying on right side facing east. The head is to the south towards the south wall of the building. The left arm was detached and was lying behind the body crossing on the left side. The right arm was also detached and moved in front of the body (to the east) but still internally articulated. The right leg was articulated and flexed at both hip and knee, but the left leg was detached and also separated at the knee. The vertebral column was disturbed, with a gap between thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, and the ribs were splayed out. This skeleton was below and disturbed by 1885 and 2033, and although it has been given a separate burial number it would seem to be part of the same burial (Cf Farid, S 1997, Archive Report, Fig.4). Associated with fire installation. 

Neonate or perinatal infant. No cribra orbitalia, although the orbital bones are thick. 

2728 space 112, B258

The articulated skeleton of an infant aged about 15 months, buried on the right side close to the east wall of space 112 and facing west into the room. The head was to the north, and the skeleton was flexed at the hips so that it was 'doubled up'. The right arm was straight behind the knees, the left arm flexed at the elbow. This position of the trunk and limbs gives the impression that the child had been placed in a bag before being placed in the ground. 

The ribs were deflated in the lower thorax, spaced in the upper thorax, suggesting shallow breathing prior to death. 

Pathology. Slight cribra present in both orbits, indicative of anaemia. 

2772, Space 109, B264

Body of a neonatal infant placed between a fire installation and platform.The skeleton was lying north to south with the head to the south, extended on its back with legs splayed and partly disarticulated. The right leg was bent at the knee while the left leg was straight, so that the feet were almost touching. The head was pushed down over the chest. The bones are in good condition with little dispersed manganese. Overlain by a horncore. (See Fig.3 in 1997 Archive report). 

The well preserved skeleton of a full term neonate. 

2779, Space 112, B265

Infant, associated with fire installation. The skeleton was buried in fill, probably with NW-SE direction with the head to SE, but all bones are damaged and difficult to be sure. (See S.Farid 1997 Archive Report Fig.4). 

Skeleton 2842, Burial 274, Space 112

Skeleton of an infant aged two to three years. Crouched burial lying on the right side, with the head to the east and facing north. Most of the skeleton was still in articulation, but some ribs and vertebrae have been displaced on the south side of the burial (Figure 51). The bones are stained black uniformly all round inner and outer sides, or mottled black on inner surfaces. The interior of the bones is stained characteristic yellow. In places, the black is more of an encrustation with sand. The skull had been severely crushed, and it has black staining predominantly on right side of the occipital; the base is not stained. Several of the limb bones have been broken post­ depositionally, with the broken pieces of shaft still in contact. Cracks in dental enamel mostly vertical, some horizontal on incisors. 

This child was buried with a bowl placed by its head. 

Detailed description of the remains 

Dental development indicates an age around two to three years (M1 stage 6 Schour and Massler). The dc and dm2 were not fully in occlusion at the time of death. There are contact facets on di1, di2, and dm1. 

Occipital lateral wings are not fused and have an unusual suture form which could be familial. Neural arches are fused but not the vertebral bodies. The long bones are in good condition mostly. Epiphyses for the humerus, femur and tibia were recovered. The parts of the proximal humerus epiphyses had not fused at the time of death. The bone maturity is compatible with the dental age. 

Skeleton 2886, Burial 277, Space 112

Complete skeleton of a young/mature adult male. Crouched burial lying on left side north-west to south-east with the head to the north-west and facing north-east (see Figure 52).The back is strongly curved. This skeleton is close to 2842 and evidently caused the disturbance seen in this earlier burial. Most of the bones are in good condition, extensively stained black except for the inside of the skull, proximal and distal surfaces of the vertebral bodies and acetabulum. The femur has a depressed puncture on the distal posterior surface of the shaft just by the condyles. This is a post­depositional pressure puncture. 

This is the skeleton of a young adult male of very small stature (153cm or 5ft) and marked dental crowding. He appears to have been involved in an accident that resulted in the fracture of a lateral incisor and injury to the upper thorax, involving clavicle, first rib­manubrium, and chest. 

The rest of the skeleton shows little evidence of modification apart from mild Scheuerman's asymmetry of the dorsal vertebrae, an asymmetry that can be associated with load bearing in adolescence. 

The habitual posture of squatting seems to have been with right leg tightly flexed at the knee and directed to the side of the trunk, the left leg close to the body, tightly flexed at the ankle, resting on the toes. It is not clear whether the torsion of the left femur and rotation of the tibiae is determined by the squatting position or by some other activity. 

Detailed description of 2886

The skull is fragmented and parts are missing so that the face could not be reconstructed. The orbits are notably wider than high with thick well rounded margins (+2), the glabella is inflated, the mastoids large; a characteristic male. 

The frontal sinus is small. There is an unusual development of the metopic suture; this extends from bregma for only 40mm towards glabella, which shows only traces of a fused suture. The mastoid is pneumatised. Ossicle at asterion may be familial. 

The upper dentition is complete. The third molars are reduced. The right canine is impacted and lies horizontally in the floor of the maxillary sinus. The right I2 had been fractured in life with exposure of the pulp and subsequent apical abscess. There are no dental caries, nor signs of periodontal disease and only slight calculus. Attrition is multifaceted, implying tooth to tooth contact and is possibly task related, since the upper anterior teeth have wear facets the length of the crown palatally. 

The lower dentition is complete, with marked anterior crowding and impaction of the lower third molar. 

The angle of the jaw is very upright and the gonial angle approaches 90o. The ascending ramus is broad with development of the coronoid. The condyle is very small. This suggests a chewing habit involving the pterygoid muscles which push the jaw forward, rather than the masseter muscles. The inner gonial region is rugose. Overall, attrition is not severe and is equal on both sides, despite the earlier injury and infection. 

The hyoid is present and one cricoid. The left first rib has an ossified cartilage to manubrium. Another rib may have a healed crack. Manubrium­sternum not fused. Medial articular surface of left clavicle smaller than that of right. 

Left innominate is fairly complete and has a narrow sciatic notch (+2) with very narrow sharp edged sulcus of male type. The right public symphysis has young surface. 

Vertebrae. C1, C2, C3­7 have single foramina; strong vertical uncinate processes. Eleven thoracic vertebral bodies were recovered and fragments of arches. Slight Scheuerman's about Th6­10. Five lumbar vertebrae, with spondylothesis of L5. This dehiscence of the neural arch can have a familial predisposition, set off by load bearing in youth. Sacrum of five vertebrae; S1­2 fused, hiatus S4­5. 

Both humeri are present. A large supracondylar fossa is present in the right, small in the left. Radial fossa is moderate in right, trace in left. Development of the supinator crest is small in both ulnae. Bones of hands show that there was no marked handedness or robusticity. 

Right and left femora complete. Torsion of left is greater than that of right; no Poirier's or Allen's facet; no trochanteric spicule; very platymeric; strong gastrocnemius attachment (stronger in left). Patellae both have vastus notches. 

Right and left tibiae. Right has rounded lateral platform of squatting but distally lateral squatting facet much larger on left. There is marked torsion between proximal and distal tibia­fibula articulation, so he was pigeon toed or turned his knees out. Proximal tibia­fibula articulation under articular platform indicating weight bearing fibula. Not platycnemic. 

Foot bones include first metatarsal with kneeling articulation and kneeling tubercle on lateral side. 

Skeleton 3368, Burial 285, cut 3369, Space 115 Midden deposit. (Not seen by PA)

A tightly flexed and flattened primary burial in a shallow pit, on a sloping floor, in the middle of the space. The fill material was compacted and indurated (see Figure 53). 

There was no disarticulation of any joint. The upper (right) side had been displaced caudally relative to the left, so that the two scapulae were situated right below left and right ilium below left. The right arm was bent at the elbow about 90o, yet the forearm lay below the ilium and hand over the bones of the right foot, an impossible position in life. The elbow joint must have flexed, subsequent to burial, presumably at the time of the caudal movement of the right scapula. The head had tipped down and the patellae were both in articulation at the top edge of the pit. 

The lie of the surface, as revealed by the excavators, dropped from head to hip, so that the body can be interpreted as having collapsed downhill. The skull was crushed but contained soil. Ilium, radius and ulna had 'old' pressure cracks; the tibia had longitudinal breaks; the femur had breaks at each end but not the shaft, suggesting that compacting pressure was not great. The pit appeared to be a flat scrape in the midden floor. The bones are particularly darkly stained. 

On the sacrum and between the ilia were patches of pale orange substance containing hackberry seeds. If this material is coprolite it implies a relatively sudden death; no long illness with fever during which the individual would not have eaten. 

This is the complete, articulated skeleton of an adult male in his early 20s. Although recovery was good many of the bones are very friable and severely fragmented, especially the vertebrae. It proved impossible to separate bones at some joints. This may result from compaction in the soil but may also be related to the severely porotic condition of many of the bones of the trunk and shoulders. 3368 is the only case of chronic, systemic bone pathology, that has been recovered either from the current or from the original excavations. 

Detailed description of the remains 

The skull bones are fragmented but apparently normal apart from a small circular lesion on the right parietal near the sagittal suture. The bone around this is porotic. The mastoids are asymmetric. Left maxilla (right not recovered) had lost all the anterior teeth, I1­P2 long before death ­ the alveolar bone is totally resorbed and the palate is flat. In the mandible the anterior teeth, LI1­RI2 had also been lost ante­mortem. A healed abscess under I2 suggests that this may result from an injury. Dentally the teeth that survive are healthy though well worn for the age at death. 

The vertebrae and ribs were largely too fragmented for recovery; some bear evidence of bone disease. 

The scapulae are grossly pathological with swollen coracoid, acromion and spine especially on the left. The articulation of the glenoid is not affected. Clavicle sharply angled (this may be familial cf North 1995) and pathological. 

The right humerus has a larger mid­shaft diameter and D­shaped cross section, whereas that of the left is oblong. The right has a large supracondylar foramen; the left is damaged but a small foramen was present. The radial imprint is not strong. 

The right ulna is swollen in the distal third and has a strong but short supinator ridge. the line of the distal epiphysis is still patent. The left ulna presents a severe periostitis of the shaft especially of the proximal and distal shaft where the olecranon is broken off. The inner bone is coarsely spongy throughout. Around this break, which is post­mortem, there is a thick surface periostitis. Along the distal shaft the periostitis presents as a thick crust tending to flake off. The carpal bones of both hands look normal. 

Metacarpals III, IV and V of the right hand show evidence of periostitis. MC V has a swollen shaft with porotic surface. The articulation is not affected. The proximal phalanges also show some periostitic changes; the Vth is swollen. Of the medial phalanges phalanx III has osteitis distally, possibly on the site of injury; Ph IV and V are porotic. The terminal phalanges are also affected. 

In the left hand MC II is swollen and deformed distally; the articulations are not affected. This bone is much shorter than that of the right (58.2, 63.7). MC III, IV, V are also porotic. Of the proximal phalanges I and III have periostitis. The right ilium has porotic changes around the crest, and the pubic symphysis is porotic. 

The right femur shaft and head appear normal, as do the patella and tibia but the fibula ends are pathological. The tarsal bones and metatarsals are very friable. The phalanges are porotic. 

The proximal phalanx of the big toe has a kneeling angle which is less than that of the left big toe, suggesting a squatting habit that was asymmetrical. 

Pathology. The youth had suffered from a chronic systemic and probably painful illness for some time. The disease had affected the bones of the shoulder, spine, ribs and hips in particular, but also individual bones of the forearm (ulnae) and hands. The bone is highly abnormal, swollen and spongy. The ribs appear to have fractured easily; some fractures have healed with weak callus formation, other fractures have failed to unite. The disease has also located around a minor injury to the terminal joint of the middle finger. In general though the joint surfaces are not involved. 

A gross superficial periostitis has developed along the shaft, both proximal and distal half, of the left ulna. This too could be the site of an injury or a response to pulmonary problems (idiopathic pulmonary hyperostosis). 

Apart from a small lesion on the top of the cranium, the head and face were apparently not involved in the disease process, although the antimortem loss of so many teeth at such a young age might be due to the disease. 

Figure 51: Burial 274 Skeleton 2842 from Mellaart Area, Space 112

Figure 52: Burial 277Skeleton 2886 from Mellaart Area, Space 112

Figure 53: Burial 285, Skeleton 3368 from Mellaart Area, Space 115


Five Byzantine graves were excavated in 1997 (features 150-154). A subsequent grave was excavated in 1998 (unit 2265). The skeletons were buried extended, supine and orientated east-west. The graves recovered in 1997 included 1 juvenile and 4 adults. The juvenile and adult from features 151 and 152, respectively, were buried with identical glass vials (Çatalhöyük archive report 1997). The associated artifacts date these burials to the Byzantine period, the late fifth or sixth century. 

In the 1998 season isolated human bones were excavated from a two metre square area, in Neolithic levels. The remains include: calotte; several vertebrae; two innominate bones; humerus and fibula . These are presumed to belong to a single adult female. Also the right parietal of an infant which, based on size, would have been about six months at the time of death. In addition there were also bones from a juvenile aged about 6 years. 

Inventory of human skeletal material from BACH 

Number Feature Age Sex Artifacts
Byzantine (5-6th century) 
2210   Adult   burnt
2212+2231 F151 Adult F glass bottle
2219 F150 Adult M  
2226+ F152 Juv, 4y   Blue bottle
2232       Cu beads, needle
2235+2245 F153 (Gr5) Adol, 16y M?  
2244 F154 Adult M  
2265   Adult M  
2229   Adult    
2255   Adult    
2255 F149 Juv, 6y    
2263   Adult    
2270, 2281   Adult F  
2281   Infant    
2293   Adult    

Detailed Description of Byzantine Remains.


The blackened remains of a fragmented maxilla and mandible from an adult. Degree of burning has shattered and splintered every tooth making many unrecognisable. 

Feature 150 Associated units 2205, 2206, 2219 

Mature adult male. All skeletal elements present though extremely fragmentary. Extra "floating" ribs were also recovered. Cricoid had ossified. Femora seem very robust. Evidence of trauma identified on left fibula, possibly the result of a twisted ankle. Fragmentary nature of these skeletons prevented detailed analysis. 

Feature 151 Associated units 2211, 2212, 2231 

Adult female (though mandibular angle is robust) with associated glass vial at right ear. All skeletal elements were found though very fragmented. Possible woven bone deposit on one of the long bone fragments suggesting some trauma which affected the skeleton, such as infection. 

Feature 152 Associated units 2225, 2226, 2232 

Juvenile approximately 4 years of age. All skeletal elements present except lower right arm and hand. Condition is very good with little fragmentation. 

Feature 153 Associated units 2234, 2235, 2245 

(Grave 5) 

Late adolescent-young adult male skeleton. Remains are very fragmented. The feet from this skeleton excavated in 1997 were subsequently recovered during the 1998 season. The calcaneus epiphysis had already fused, though some epiphyses in the remainder of the skeleton were only in the process of fusing. Kneeling articulations were observed, though the lack of squatting facets on either the tibiae or tali argues against squatting as a habitual posture. Flattening of MTII head and kneeling articulation could indicate a kneeling habit with heels off the ground. 

Feature 154 Associated units 2236, 2237, 2244 

Adult male skeleton. Full osteological analysis is as yet incomplete. 


Roman: adult male, mature to old who had lost his upper molars during life. Some arthritic changes to sternum. Osteophytosis of lower lumbar vertebrae. 

Details. Skull with antemortem loss of molars, occlusal calculus on lower M3. Hyoid and ossified thyroid (indicating buried articulated). Right ribs with black staining on inside and on upper side of rib 1. Manubrium fragment, sternum with ossified xiphisternum. Scapulae, sacrum, ilia, vertebrae including C1­6, thoracic and lumbar, without signs of load­bearing. Arm, L,R femur heads, tibia head, hand and foot bones very fragmented. 

Neolithic Skeletal Remains

2229, F285: 

Adult, mid­shaft humerus; proximal phalanx of the big toe (L?). 


The isolated cranium of a mature individual. 

2255 F963: 

Young adult, worn fragment of cranium, possibly part of coronal suture. Stained black on outer surface and around edges indicating that it had been broken in antiquity. F150: Mature, medial phalanx digit III hand. 

F149: Juvenile proximal third left femur, with unfused epiphysis, cribra femoris. G: tooth germ upper left canine crown complete (= 6 years). NB has apparently worn tip but certainly not erupted; hypoplastic lines at base of crown. 


Humerus and femoral fragments from a young adult. Femoral fragments show strong adductor muscle imprints. 


Grave fill: Mature adult, 2 upper I1, I2, C, root of . Bone fragments include rib, 1 medial and 1 distal phalanges hand. 


Mature adult, left ilium female (open sciatic notch and sulcus). . 


This is a huge unit, that includes 2255 and 2270. The relationship with 2229 is not clear. 


Adult female, right ilium (same individual as 2270). Adult, right femur shaft, fibula shaft; (calvarium left in ground at end of season). 

Also scapula which has different preservation and looks like Roman. 


Infant, left parietal; size fits six months (a nine month infant has developed sutures, this has not). 


Adult, five lumbar vertebrae, very fragmented. Could be same individual as 2281­2270. 

West Mound


Occiptial of cranium and left humerus of an adult. These bones were weathered in appearance suggesting erosion or disturbance from a grave. 

2909 + 2916

A thoracic vertebra and several tarsals, metatarsals and associated phalanges of an adult. First proximal and distal phalanges are in articulation. Bunion type formations are present on lateral and medial sides of the articulation especially on the distal phalanx. The thoracic vertebra is massive with large Schmorl's nodes on both superior and inferior sides of the body. Slight osteophytosis and osteochondrosis and Scheuermanns were observed. There are no degenerative features on the articular facets. 


Left and right tibia, left fibula, a metatarsal and phalanx (not articulated) of a muscular adult. Tibia/fibula articulation is pronounced with extra superior articular facet. The tibiae are rotated implying a "knock-kneed" stance. The position of the nutrient foramen differs between the tibiae. 


Isolated bones of an adult male, comprising teeth, two cervical and four thoracic vertebrae, sternal and manubrium fragments, several ribs, complete left pelvis, humerus midshaft, metacarpal and phalanx, distal right fibula fragment. The skeletal material from the two units, 2913 and 2918 was united on the basis of robusticity. The frontal and right parietals from 2922II may also belong to this individual. 


Sacrum, left and right calcanei, two metatarsals of a adult, possibly male. 


Frontal, parietals occipital and partial maxilla of an old adult male. The brow ridges are well developed. Frontal and parietal bones show internal arachnoid pitting. The molars can be scored 4+ on the Brothwell scale of attrition. 


Frontal and right parietal of an adult male. These skull fragments could be associated with the postcrania of 2918. The frontal bone shows an osteoma with surrounding pitting. 


Left mandibular ramus and left orbit of an adult. 


A minimum number of two individuals is represented by the remains. 

The burial assemblage which was distributed throughout the excavated units appears to consist of the remains of a minimum of two adult individuals one of which was probably male. The measurements which could be taken from the remains show close resemblance to other Byzantines studied from Turkey*, however, since there are no Chalcolithic remains for comparison at present, the assignment of a Byzantine date according to measurements taken from the bones should not be considered conclusive. The burials were clearly disturbed. This can be supported from the lack of patellae and femora and much of the axial skeleton. The skulls could, potentially, be Chalcolithic (according to the archaeology). Measurements could not be taken of the surviving crania, it would be difficult to assess a difference in population type between the skeletal remains recovered from such a small population sample. The alternative would be to use the radiocarbon method of dating. 

*Domuztepe unpublished skeletal analysis, 1998.


© Çatalhöyük Research Project and individual authors, 1998