Mound: This refers to the two main mounds on the site, the (largely)
Neolithic to the east and (largely) Chalcolithic to the west.
Area: Each area under excavation has a name for location purposes.
At present we have the areas 4040, North, TP, South, Scrape, Bach, SP,
PRETP, IST, DigHouse and Rec
Building: A building number is allocated where more than one internal
space can be demonstrated to belong to one structure.
Space: A space number is allocated to internal and external areas
as defined within the area of excavation. It can, for example, describe
a room, a storage room, an external area, a street or an alley.
Feature: A feature number is addionally allocated to any group of
related units that need to be described as a whole. For instance, a burial
cut, associated fill(s) and skeleton will be grouped together by a feature
number, or the bricks, mortar and plaster of a wall may also be grouped.
The Feature Sheet allows a whole burial or architectural
element, as opposed to its individual units to be described (a standardised
list of features is listed with the Feature Sheet instructions).
Unit Number: Every deposit or event defined is given a unique number.
There is no value associated with any of the numbering systems used. Numbering
of units, spaces and buildings etc. are terms of identification and should
not be interpreted as having any hierarchical value. Unit numbers may
be called 'context numbers' in other excavations.
Settlement Phase: this is the temporal sequence of building/construction phases at the site. This is made up of
Hodder Level: based on stratigraphic chronology specific to Area of and where appropriate matched to Mellaart
Mellaart Level – 1960s phasing as Levels, and where possible matched to Hodder Level.
Occupation Phase: this is the history of internal use of the building or space. Recorded as
Space Phase – specific to space, which is generally an external area (middens, ‘yards’, quarrying etc.).
Building Phase – specific to building which can comprise more than one space.
Year: The year of excavation.
General Category: This describes the type of deposit being recorded.
Category types have been defined to cover the range of deposits we are
likely to encounter on the site. These categories may be expanded over
Generally everyone's description will differ. Excavators are asked to
describe what they see, feel and come across whilst digging, in terms
of colour, texture, consistency, inclusions, distribution and orientation.
Layer: This should be used to describe a stratified
deposit. Fills contained within cuts are also described as layers (there
is no 'fill' category).
One type of layer that requires specific instructions
is floor/surface. A unit number should be allocated to
each metre square of the floor, often resulting in up to 50 unit numbers
representing one floor. The initial recording for each surface unit
should note surface treatment by following the prompt for basal boundary
with additional descriptive terms, e.g. smooth, uneven, rough, pitted,
pebbled, scorched, impressions of matting etc., depressions, waterlain
lenses, salts. Groups of artefacts should be treated as Clusters
and all artefacts associated with the surface should be treated
as X Finds.
Arbitrary Layer:This category can cover part
of a layer or a group of layers, i.e. several lenses. It can also represent
a unit of investigation if the excavator is unsure of the local stratigraphy.
Cluster: This category describes a discrete
group of artefacts within a unit, i.e. a concentration of pot, bone,
lithics etc. or combination thereof.
Skeleton: Human skeletal remains are recorded
on a Skeleton Sheet aided by specific prompts.
Cut: Although 'cuts' are negative events i.e.
the removal of material rather than the accumulation, they define a
human activity which is crucial to understanding the nature and sequence
of events we are attempting to unravel and interpret. Types of cuts
you may encounter are pits, postholes, stakeholes, post or feature retrieval
pits, graves, foundations etc.
Interpretative Category: This should contain a more specific interpretation
of the unit. For instance, a cut in the general interpretation
can now be identified as a burial cut, a foundation cut, a pit cut etc.
and its probability circled as LOW - MEDIUM - HIGH (HIGH is more
probable). If unsure, another interpretation can be entered in the alternative
box with its probability. Further alternatives can be continued in the
discussion area of the unit sheet.
Mid. X and Y. A grid system exists across the site originating
from a SW co-ordinate. The grid is read in eastings and northings: X is
therefore the measurement in metres east of the origin and Y the to the
north. Each area under excavation has fixed grid points from which an
approximate mid X and Y reading on the centre of the unit being described
should be taken.
Dimensions: the maximum extent of the unit in plan (in metres
and/or millimetres only) and the axis of the measurement e.g. 1.2m
E-W x 0.4m N-S x 0.1m thick or 0.15m E-W x 80mm N-S x 0.2m deep. If there
is extreme variation the minimum is also recorded.
Description: The Methodology section was introduced to
the unit recording sheet in 1998 to aid a ‘user’ of the unit sheet to
understand the excavtor's approach to the archaeology and how and why
they recognised a different event in the archaeological sequence. Basically
it tries to follow their thought and ‘feel’ processes whilst excavating.
X Finds: Most finds should be collected in material specific bags,
with a label written in permanent ink pen on the pre-printed non-degradable
labels with the site name, year and area code, the unit number, brief
artefact description, initials and date. The dry sieved artefacts should
be bagged together with hand picked finds. However a 'small' find and
all artefacts associated with floors or features must be XYZ recorded.
These are given an X Find number. This number is unit specific, starting
at number one e.g. 3128.X1, 3128.X2 etc. The X Find label has the site
name, year and area code, the unit number, X Find number, brief artefact
description and initials and date.
Discussion: This is where excavators write anything they can think
about the unit, including their thoughts on the origins of the sediments
and inclusions of the unit. Quesions excavators consider about the type
of depositional event the unit may represent include the following:
Is there any evidence that the deposit was deliberately
created in a single episode? This may apply to pit fills and make-up/levelling/infilling
deposits or demolition debris, or to a fire event.
Is there any evidence that the deposit was accumulated
over a period of time, as multiple episodes, such as within pits, midden
areas, silt laminations? Are these the same types of episodes or are
they different with compound layers of plaster and ash, sediment and
ash or different types of ash.
The distribution and orientation also provides information
on the nature of accumulation. Are there therefore, concentrations of
artefacts or they evenly distributed throughout the deposit?
Is there evidence to indicate the deposit was wind
or water-laid? This may take the form of fine lenses of silt or sand.
Excavators record how and why they reached certain conclusions and what
evidence there is to support their analysis. They discuss what type of
activity or activities the unit may represent, the reasons for their interpretation
and the events that may have led to the presence of the unit. They give
general thoughts on the unit’s location within the space, building or
feature and note any contemporaneity with units under excavation in the
vicinity, as well as any additional details on artefacts, including any
clusters within the unit. Any change or variation in the deposit composition
across the unit must also be noted. What post-depositional alterations
are there? How have they affected the nature or preservation of the unit.
These take place every other workday for laboratory teams to visit all
areas of excavation for updates on progress in work. The field staff discuss
their area, units excavated, those in progress; thoughts and current interpretation.
Initially tours for the laboratory staff were designed to involve them
in the excavation process whereby a multi-interpretational flow of ideas
and interpretation would be introduced in the field; the analysis of the
environmental and material record deposits would help interpretation in
the field and or allow a more detailed field interpretation or highlight
flaws in the field interpretation. However due to the large quantity of
material to be analysed it was clear that not all material could be studied
fast enough or in tandem. Priority tours were then introduced in 1997
whereby after discussion of units under excavation both the field team
and lab teams would prioritise deposits for fast track analysis to answer
specific questions raised through the excavation or analysis.
This gives them information on the material they analyse in the lab rather
than looking at a bagful of disparate finds, this also allows feedback
and integrated interpretation of the deposits under excavation, it might
be that their interpretation of the material assemblage differs from the
field interpretation of a particular unit and this may lead to discussion
and a reassessment of interpretation. Questions arise about deposition
events and function, some of which are best addressed by site staff and
others by the lab staff. There may be times when the excavator recognises
a change but can't fathom the reasoning, it often then helps to have the
material assemblage analysed.
This is a two way process intended to inform both lab and field teams
and everyone is expected to take part.
One of the intentions of the priority tour is to chose units that are
fast tracked through the system of flotation, sorting and material analysis
in order to focus on specific questions to help interpretation. By prioritising
chosen units all the material is analysed and then bought together in
the field by discussion, usually by the next priority session and the
discussion is then summarised on video.
Anything that appears unusual or difficult to interpret or of specific
interest to the field team should be pointed out at these tours, lab staff
may focus on units of particular interest to them. If at the end of the
tour too many priority units have been chosen then the number needs to
be reduced by group discussion in order for the process to be effective.
Features and components types at Çatalhöyük
Below are a list of features and their components regularly encountered
at Çatalhöyük . We are trying to standardise feature
typologies which will ease database queries and you should therefore try
to stick to those listed below. There is however, no hard and fast rule
and other types of features may be encountered. If a feature you are excavating
does not fall into one of the categories below, discuss with your area
supervisor, and/or the computer officer, in order for a new category to
be entered on to the database. This then for example, enables all platforms
to be queried on the database and none missed because they have been categorised
as a bed, a couch or foundation etc. There will be occasions when a further
level of interpretation is needed for some features, but this should be
described in the discussion section of the feature sheet. Examples of
feature types and sub feature types (the further level of interpretation)
are listed below:
Unit numbers are allocated
to the different components of the wall e.g. brick, mortar and plaster.
If different brick types are encountered these should be allocated
further units. Once all samples are taken from the brick and mortar,
a general number is given to the remaining bricks and mortar and
the whole excavated and dry sieved together. The bricks, mortar
and combined number, will appear as equal on the matrix box. On
the feature sheet you should describe the location of the wall in
terms of building and space, its alignment, relationship to other
walls e.g. bonded/abutting/abutted, also the dimensions of the wall
and the dimensions of the brick and mortar, also rebuilds or modifications,
associations to all other relevant features, e.g. abutted by platform,
cut by post scar, contains wall relief or painting, which face of
the wall these features occur on and any anomalies you encountered
whilst excavating, e.g. the wall sloped gradually from north to
south, or in areas the mortar was used as a levelling deposit. Because
the walls at Çatalhöyük are irregular on the vertical
plane it is important to record this too, therefore you should not
only plan and level the top course of the wall but also every 2
- 3 courses down, these plans can then be used to build up a 3-D
image of all the irregularities and overhangs. All walls must be
drawn in elevation; draw on the extent of the plaster and then draw
again once the plaster has been removed. The plaster is allocated
a unit number and excavated carefully looking for any signs of paint.
Also note the number of visible plaster applications and basal mud
rendering. Remember to take ‘plaster count’ samples as well as the
routine archive and flotation.
Record the blocking material
in the same way as a wall and describe the resulting void. You may
wish to allocate a different feature number to the crawlhole once
the blocking has been excavated, but only you can decide if this
makes things easier for you. Record the location and interpretation
for the blocking: was it a pre-construction evevnt for the next
phase and therefore infilled for stability for the overlying wall,
or was it a blocking to close off a space no longer used (e.g. Space
151), or to close off access between two spaces which carried on
in use (see pre-blocking floors and post blocking floors e.g. spaces
107 and 108)
This will only ever occur
in a wall, and it should be recorded using a cut unit sheet. Record
which wall the crawlhole is in, the spaces it links, any notable
characteristics and how it affects the use of the spaces.
Record in the same way as
a crawlhole, where it occurs, which wall face, all fills within,
any internal treatment e.g. plaster, rough or smooth faces, residues
etc. and any indication of use, and its relationship to the use
of the building.
These are similar to ‘engaged
pilasters’ with a brick or pisé core, rendered with a mud plaster
base and finished with plaster. There may be several mud and plaster
renderings which can be excavated in groups. Record location and
dimensions, which wall face they occur on, distance between similar
features, and also record any modifications and/or mouldings.
On this site these represent
a wooden posts used for roof support. Posts have not yet been found
in situ, and are presumed to have been removed for re-use
in the next building. These are usually identified by a scar in
the wall plaster with an associated posthole or post-retrieval posthole.
Posts however will probably survive in a burnt building. The different
elements to this feature therefore include the posthole (fill[s]
and cut), the scar and the plaster rendering. Record location and
dimensions, which wall facethey occur on, distance between similar
features, and also record any modifications and/or mouldings.
Again these have not been
found in situ but are represented by a scar in the wall plaster.
To record use the prompts to describe a cut, indicate the location
in relation to the wall and on which face, the length, any association
to other features, e.g. above features, floor treatment around the
base of the scar, the angle, how it’s location would have affected
the spatial organisation and use of the building.
These features appear to
consist of multiple pisé or brick cores with plaster and mud applications.
You will have to decide how best to allocate units to the individual
components, remembering that the photographic image can enhance
the written and drawn record. Describe as fully as possible, record
location and dimensions, on which wall face they occur and their
relationship to similar features, e.g. are they symmetrically located.
It may not always be possible to excavate these features as they
may be lifted by the conservators but this needs to be recorded
too. If you are unlucky enough to find many superimposed paintings,
allocate a unit number to each painting as a plaster category and
describe the image. Paintings can either be grouped with the wall
feature or if there are several you may which to allocate a feature
number to the series. Remember to inform the relevant laboratory
of conservation team(s) at the earliest possible moment.
It is unusual to find collapsed
roof deposits, but where we have it is clear that these consist
of multiple lenses all of which should be brought together as a
feature. This enables analysts to study all these deposits as a
group as well as individually. Other roof related features may be
represented by roof beam-slots at the top of walls, as it is quite
possible that occasional buildings were completely backfilled, in
which case excavate the beam-slot as you would a cut with fills.
Record location, dimensions and distance between similar features.
If there are many beam-slots you may decide to allocate a feature
number to all and discuss them as a group.
These are shallow plastered
features located against walls and can vary in number and size,
sometimes extending across most of a floor space, where they abut
other platforms or features. They tend to be heavily remodelled
by extensions and re-plastering and can be replastered at the same
time as floors, so it is important to find this relationship. Platforms
are normally associated with burials and it is important to cross
reference all burials. Platforms can also be modelled over earlier
interior walls (e.g. ***sp 150 and sp 117***) which creates a pre
existing raised area, or in some cases a make-up layer is used to
form the base.
Similar to platforms but
narrower and higher and probably constructed with a brick core with
rendering of mud and plaster. Again these tend to be constructed
along wall faces. Record location, dimensions and relationship to
These are narrow walledfeatures
with a plastered pisé core, often truncated leaving only the base
but with scars sometimes traced in the wall plaster, indicating
original height. They are usually found in corners of rooms but
also as a conglomerate of individually constructed bins (e.g. space
**CRAIG**), it is therefore important to record the construction
sequence where possible. These can also be truncated and remodelled
as basins which isn’t always apparent. Record location, dimensions
and relationship to walls.
These have a similar construction
to bins and it is not always possible to distinguish between a bin
and a basin. They are often composed of solid plaster and are usually
shallow with a raised or lipped rim. Again these are often remodelled
and extended or truncated. Record different phases and location,
dimensions and relationships with any other features.
The types of fire installations
encountered at the site so far are domed superstructures, shallow
rimmed structures and fire spots in ‘external’ areas. There are
many phases of oven within the lifespan of a building. A pattern
we are also finding is that often the very last oven is preserved
with its domed roof intact and the oven body carefully infilled
prior to the infilling of the building, this however, is not rule.
Earlier ovens are truncated or flattened, sometimes constructed
over by another oven or sealed by floors, and the replacement oven
located elsewhere. Ovens are usually constructed against a wall
and comprise several phases of replastering and use. Sometime they
are remodelled into other features. The walls are usually constructed
of clay with several applications together with renderings of mud
plaster. Sometimes they are set in a scoop type cut and may have
a basal packing deposit and several make-up/packing layers for the
main oven floor. The internal walls may have several mud plaster
applications. The surrounding associated deposits consist of ‘rakeout’
material, compacted by wear into surfaces but which are not usually
plastered. The ‘dirty’ oven area and ‘rakeout’ is often delineated
from the ‘clean’ plastered floor areas by a ‘physical’ barrier in
the form of a raised ridge. It is important to phase the oven and
remodelling sequences with the srrounding floor deposits. Hearths
can be difficult to distinguish from truncated ovens as these are
similarly constructed. A fire is usually identified by in situ
ashy deposits and associated scorching, and these can be identified
in external areas and in buildings. Always notify the archaeobotany
team once a fire installation is defined. Record different phases
and location, dimensions and relationship with any other features.
It is not always necessary
to allocate a feature number to a pit, particularly in the event
of a single fill. In this case the ‘cut’ unit number draws the unit
of the pit together. However, in cases of multi depositional filled
cuts you may decide to allocate a feature number to draw the whole
pit together, particularly when the fills represent different uses
and/or phases which require further discussion as a whole.
This is similar to pits
and clusters but we distinguish a cache as a group of related artefacts
deliberately buried together which may be interpreted as a store
of material. By allocating a feature number you are simply drawing
attention to it which allows easier query on the database. As soon
as a cache is identified it is advisable to set up a couple of target
nails (as you do for a human burial) so that photographic records
can be made at each stage of lifting. If possible set up a tripod
and maintain a stable camera position until the last artefact has
been lifted. If possible plan each artefact at a scale of 1:1. Each
fragment or artefact is allocated an X Find number. The reason for
the above is to detect whether the artefacts were in a container
when placed in the ground, which may be tested by the position of
the artefacts. If a cache/hoard is within a cut then you need to
allocate a fill, cluster and cut unit. If at the interface of floors
or deposits then a cluster unit only, if within a deposit (e.g.
infill) it may indicate that the cache was deposited in a container
since disintegrated in which case you should also allocate a fill,
cluster and cut unit so that the ‘shape’ of the artefacts can be
recorded which may define the shape of the container.
Because we excavate floors
on a grid, and each gridded area is allocated a unit number, a floor
often ends up with many unit numbers which are equal to each other
on the matrix. It may be convenient to draw all these individual
numbers together under a feature number, which also allows you to
record or summarise your impressions of wear and use of the floor,
as indicated by the surface treatment. This also saves the data
user having to plough through all the unit sheets for a description
of the surface treatment over different areas of the building. On
the feature sheet you should also cross reference phases and associated