2.0 Background

2.1 Archaeological background

The pre-pottery Neolithic site of Nevali Çori is located on the banks of the Kantara creek, a feeder stream of the Upper Euphrates and dates back to about 8300 BC, according to 14C measurements (Dr Klaus Schmidt, 1997, pers. comm.). Besides the small figurines, Nevali Çori shows other typical elements of the PPNB of the Near East, such as rectangular stone buildings, one of them covered with a terrazzo floor, and the use of agricultural techniques (Hauptmann 1993). A typical element of the site and seemingly characteristic for the region of southern Anatolia are the hitherto unknown life-sized limestone statues (Beile-Bohn et al. 1997).

About 1300 figurines and beads of various shapes up to 5cm in size have been found in all five architectural levels of Nevali Çori. They have been analysed archaeologically as part of the diploma thesis of Michael Morsch, at the Institut für Ur-und Fruehgeschichte, University of Heidelberg. The artefacts have been found at ground level or associated with disposal pits. They normally did not occur inside houses or sacred buildings and were never associated with burials. They are interpreted as idols or votive offerings and can be classified as anthropomorphic (male and female), zoomorphic, spherical, beads and small vessels, with a predominance of anthropomorphic representations (Figure 1). They normally show grey and black colours, although many artefacts are beige; red coloured examples are very uncommon. The pieces classified as 'small vessels' are very rare, up to a few centimetres in size.

No kilns have been found at the site itself or in its vicinity.

2.2 Geological background

The region of Nevali Çori is geologically dominated by marly sequences with interchanging layers of chalky and silicified marls, fossiliferous limestones and chert (Figures 2 and 3). During a geological survey carried out in 1994, four possible sources of raw materials were found in the vicinity of the site. Two represent weathering products of the local marls (samples NC132C and NC148), the other two materials are soft calcareous marls with low clay contents but still workable (NC39 and NC150).


© Internet Archaeology URL:
Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000