The hau of the house

Mary J. Weismantel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


At the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, all architecture is domestic. Earlier sites in the Anatolian region of Turkey, such as the spectacular Göbekli Tepe, boast dramatic public spaces and monumental art. But at Çatalhöyük, despite a very large, very long occupation (perhaps two to eight thousand people from 7400 to 6000 BCE), it appears that no one ever built anything bigger than a house. Maps of the excavations show a mound honeycombed with small rooms, and nothing more (Hodder 2006). This singular fact has inspired lengthy, detailed, insightful studies of the Çatalhöyük house. But even after reading this extensive literature, I still find myself asking a basic question: What - and where - is this house? The answer is not as obvious as it might seem. Identifying buildings at the site is relatively straightforward, but that does not mean we know the dimensions of “the house” - let alone its ontological status. To begin with, there are several different kinds of houses to be disentangled. Writers on the subject of “the house” tend to erect three different kinds of things on the same semantic terrain - and this is certainly true at Çatalhöyük.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReligion at Work in a Neolithic Society
Subtitle of host publicationVital Matters
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781107239043
ISBN (Print)9781107047334
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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