6.0 Conclusion

Most figurines from Nevali Çori consist of fired illitic clay or, less frequently, of lightly fired workable soft marls. Some figurines were made by carving a hard limestone (chalk and marly chalk) but never was an entire idol formed from a single piece of rock. Since these figurines also show signs of heating or firing, like soot covering, it is likely that individual parts made of country rock were joined with marl and then heated. The analysed figurines were heated at low enough temperatures to avoid the decomposition of calcite; figurines burnt at higher temperatures may not have survived. Pieces originally supposed to be made of lime plaster are in fact of soft marls or carved limestone.

The raw materials most likely derive from the immediate vicinity of Nevali Çori, consisting mainly of weathering soil that covers the marls of the region and subordinate of local soft marly chalk. They seem to have been modified according to the needs for shaping figurines, i.e. by adding different amounts of silicate temper. At present it remains open whether this temper was naturally occurring or if it was specially crushed and prepared. Firing temperatures were low (between 600° and 700°C) and easily obtained in an open fire with natural draught. The superficial colour of the objects is governed mainly by the firing conditions and is independent of the chemical and mineralogical composition.

The figurines of Nevali Çori are indeed one of the first signs of the intentional use of fire to modify the original characteristics of raw materials. They experimented not only with the effect of fire on many distinct materials but also modified them by adding temper of different types and in various amounts. The fact that at the same time the addition of burnt lime in plaster floors of Capadoccia, Levant and Anatolia has been attested by many authors (Affonso 1997), reinforces the fact that around 8000 BC the Neolithic people began to experiment with the properties of fire on all kinds of material they had near the site, especially the calcareous ones. This may have been the first step that led to the discovery of metal smelting.


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Last updated: Tue Oct 24 2000