Thousands of years ago, Çatalhöyük was one of the most crowded sites in central Anatolia. Findings have revealed that this geography hosted early pioneers not only in architecture, culture, and arts but also in agriculture.
Two of the oldest communities discovered in the world, Çatalhöyük and Alacahöyük in Turkey, played a crucial role in offering insights into the development of agriculture. So many of the staples that the entire world adores today originated in Asia Minor’s rich farming tradition. If you like olive oil, honey, steak, and bread, thank the industrious farmers of these two ancient cities in central Anatolia. The main founder crops that kickstarted human civilization -einkorn wheat, emmer (farro) wheat, hulled barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas, flax, rye- were cultivated in the Neolithic Age around 9500 BC and many believe these started in the earliest farming communities discovered in Asia Minor and other parts of the Levant.
Çatalhöyük, 52 kilometers southeast of Konya in Turkey, is widely accepted by most experts as the world's oldest village, dating back more than 9,000 years. The site has given historians and archaeologists great insights into how humanity first decided to settle into agrarian towns. In the millennium before Çatalhöyük, the Near East was largely occupied by nomads who hunted gazelle and goats and gathered grasses and fruits. But they rapidly evolved to create the earliest irrigation systems for their crops and developed over centuries from villages to urban centers, largely based on egalitarian principles.
Visually, the most unique aspect of the city is the absence of streets. From above, Çatalhöyük is one gigantic building comprised of several smaller cells, like a honeycomb. Instead of independent structures, the residents of Çatalhöyük chose to build their houses abutting one another on all sides, with entrances built under the ledge of each house.
This is a far different architecture than the majestic Alacahöyük (circa 4,500 years ago) which was one of the most important centers of the ancient Hittites. Featuring a magnificent gate with a sphinx, the community probably had the first dam in the region. Here the paleobotanical data suggests the domestication of olives, figs, and grapes, signaling the onset of horticulture.
Located in the central Anatolian province of Çorum, this ancient site was one of the most significant centers of the Hittite civilization. The advance of agriculture allowed these cultural advances which led to our modern societies. But even 10 millennia ago, humans gathered around to eat meals that were similar to some of our favorites today. Some favorites based on information gained from ancient tablets by Professor of Archaeology Aykut Çınaroğlu include many types of breads from barley and farro grains (sometimes with cheese and fig), apricot butter, meat casseroles with olive oil and honey, grilled lamb liver and heart, and sandwiches made with cooked meat and onion.