7,800 Year Old Female Figure Found at Ulucak Mound

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A 7,800-year-old female figure made of clay and whole was found at the Ulucak Mound in Kemalpaşa district of Izmir.

Excavations at the 8,850-year-old Ulucak Mound, the oldest known settlement in Izmir, have been ongoing since 2009 under the direction of Prof. Dr. Özlem Çevik from Trakya University.

The Ulucak Mound was home to the first farmers of the Aegean Region. The first settlers built their houses on top of each other along the 7.5-meter cultural layer and inhabited the same place for 1,150 years without interruption.

Prof. Dr. Özlem Çevik, Head of Excavations, says that with the excavations at Ulucak Mound, they have learned that not only Izmir but also Western Anatolia was inhabited 8,850 years ago, which is why this mound is important.

This is how Prof. Dr. Çevik describes the Ulucak Mound:

“The region is located on a fertile plain. It is a key settlement. It is a settlement that has been inhabited for 1150 years without interruption. It is also important in terms of showing how the first farmers of Izmir transformed in terms of settlement and society after they settled. Architecturally, houses were first built with fencing and mud technique. Generally independent houses were built. Sometimes there are adjacent houses. 900 years later, we see a transition from makeshift architecture to stone-based adobe architecture. We also witness the construction of courtyards for the houses. We see that walls were built and settlements were separated from each other by streets. We see a high degree of privacy. We see the transition from a more collective community, from a more communal social structure to a structure with a high degree of privacy.”

This season’s excavations at Ulucak Höyük yielded a female figure. The figure, which dates back to approximately 7,800 years ago, is made of clay and is 8 cm tall.

Prof. Dr. Çevik said, “These clay figurines are used in some rituals. For example, they can be used to increase the abundance of the house. We usually find such figures broken. We found this one whole. It is a very rare artifact. It is the third one found whole so far.”.

Stating that such statuettes were interpreted as depictions of goddesses in the past, Çevik said that they were not considered sacred because they were also found thrown on the streets or in garbage dumps during excavations in recent years, adding that they may be related to events such as birth, death, harvest, and may have been used in rituals to increase abundance and fertility or for magical purposes.


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