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Committee Decisions

36 COM 8B.36

Cultural Properties - Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B1,

2.   Inscribes the Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (iii) and (iv);

3.   Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The vast archaeological site of Çatalhöyük comprises two tells rising up to 20 meters above the Konya plain on the Southern Anatolian Plateau. Excavations of the Eastern tell have revealed 18 levels of Neolithic occupation dating from 7,400-6,200 BC that have provided unique evidence of the evolution of prehistoric social organisation and cultural practices, illuminating the early adaptation of humans to sedentary life and agriculture. The Western tell excavations primarily revealed Chalcolithic occupation levels from 6,200-5,200 BC, which reflect the continuation of the cultural practices evident in the earlier Eastern mound.

Çatalhöyük is a very rare example of a well-preserved Neolithic settlement and has been considered one of the key sites for understanding human Prehistory for some decades. The site is exceptional for its substantial size and great longevity of the settlement, its distinctive layout of back-to-back houses with roof access, the presence of a large assemblage of features including wall paintings and reliefs representing the symbolic world of the inhabitants. On the basis of the extensively documented research at the site, the above features make it the most significant human settlement documenting early settled agricultural life of a Neolithic community.

Criterion (iii):Çatalhöyük provides a unique testimony to a moment of the Neolithic, in which the first agrarian settlements were established in central Anatolia and developed over centuries from villages to urban centres, largely based on egalitarian principles. The early principles of these settlements have been well preserved through the abandonment of the site for several millennia. These principles can be read in the urban plan, architectural structures, wall paintings and burial evidence. The stratigraphy of up to 18 settlement layers provides an exceptional testimony to the gradual development, re-shaping and expansion of the settlement.

Criterion (iv): The house clusters of Çatalhöyük, characterized by their streetless neighbourhoods, dwellings with roof access, and house types representing a highly circumscribed distribution of activity areas and features according to a clear spatial order aligned on cardinal directions, form an outstanding settlement type of the Neolithic period. The comparable sizes of the dwellings throughout the city illustrate an early type of urban layout based on community and egalitarian ideals.

Integrity

The excavated remains of the prehistoric settlement spanning 2,000 years are preserved in situ in good condition, and are completely included in the property boundaries. The two archaeological mounds rise from the surrounding plain and constitute a distinctive landscape feature which has preserved its visual integrity. Shelters constructed above the two main excavation areas protect the archaeological structures from direct effects of the climate and thereby reduce the immediate dangers of rainfall and erosion.

Authenticity

The archaeological remains of Çatalhöyük have retained authenticity in material, substance, location and setting.Over forty years of well-documented research and excavation at the site bear testimony to the site’s readability as an early Neolithic settlement and thereby its authenticity. The site and excavations are well preserved. The physical mass and scale of the mounds have not much altered since the site was first discovered in 1958.

Protection and management requirements

The property is protected at the highest level as an ancient monument under the Turkish Directorate General of Monuments by Law 2863/1983 on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage amended in 1987 and 2004. It was registered as a conservation site on the national inventory of 1981 by the Superior Council for Immovable Antiquities and Monuments. According to these instruments, local authorities are also responsible for the property’s protection.

The management of the site is supervised by the Çatalhöyük Coordination and Supervision Council (CSC), an Advisory Board and a Management Plan team. A site manager has been formally appointed and a Management Plan team including experts from the excavation team in Çatalhöyük and the departments related to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has also been established. On the basis of the experience gained with a previous management plan drafted in 2004, the new management plan to be adopted shall contain specific sections on visitor management, access, education, risk preparedness and involvement of the local community and is announced to be finalized in late 2012.The provision of regular financial and human resources, as well as a dedicated archive for documentation of excavation and conservation activities are key to the management system.

4.   Takes note of the State Party’s written commitment for the future funding of the property, as well as for the finalization of its Management Plan by December 2012;

5.   Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

a)   Including, among the monitoring indicators, the evaluation of environmental and climatic impacts, as well as those related to the effects of agriculture, tourism or other developments, which might affect the property,

b)   Defining, besides the Çatalhöyük Research Project, the national and local entities responsible for the custody of the inventories and documentation on the property;

6.   Requests the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2013, a report on the financial strategy for the conservation and maintenance of the property, as well as on the finalization and implementation of the new management plan, to be examined by the Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Outstanding Universal Value
States Parties: Turkey
Session: 36COM