Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk - an Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization

Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk - an Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization

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By (author) Michael Balter

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  • Publisher: Left Coast Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 28mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 15 January 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Walnut Creek
  • ISBN 10: 1598740695
  • ISBN 13: 9781598740691
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 16 bw illus.
  • Sales rank: 420,402

Product description

In "The Goddess and the Bull", veteran "Science" magazine reporter, Michael Balter takes you inside the trenches of one of the world's most important archaeological excavations and the biggest prehistoric village ever discovered: 9,500 year old Catalhoeyuek, in south-central Turkey. Thousands of years before the pyramids were built in Egypt, a great civilization arose on the Anatolian plains. "The Goddess and the Bull" details the dramatic quest by archaeologists to unearth the buried secrets of this huge, spectacularly well-preserved early farming settlement.Here lie the origins of modern society-the dawn of art, architecture, religion, the nuclear family-even the first tangible evidence of human self-awareness, the world's oldest mirrors. Some archaeologists have claimed that a Mother Goddess was first worshipped at atalhyk, which is now a site of pilgrimage for Goddess worshippers from all over the world. The excavations here have unearthed the seeds of the Neolithic Revolution, when prehistoric humans first abandoned the hunter-gatherer life they had known for millions of years, invented farming, and began living in houses and communities.Michael Balter, the excavation's official "biographer," brings readers behind the scenes, providing the first inside look at the remarkable site and its history of scandal and thrilling scientific discovery. He tells the human story of two colourful men: British archaeologist James Mellaart, who discovered atalhyk in 1958 only to be banned from working at the site forever after a fabulous Bronze Age treasure he had found earlier disappeared without a trace; and Ian Hodder, a path-breaking archaeological rebel, who reinvented the way archaeology is practiced and reopened the excavation after it lay dormant for three decades.Today, Hodder leads an international team of more than one hundred archaeologists who continue to probe the site's ancient secrets. Balter pulls the curtain on romantic notions about archaeology to reveal the true story behind modern excavations - the thrill of history-making scientific discovery as well as the crushing disappointments, the community and friendship, the love affairs, and the often bitter rivalries between warring camps of archaeologists. Along the way, Balter describes the cutting-edge advances in archaeological science that have allowed the team at atalhyk to illuminate the central questions of human existence.

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Author information

Michael Balter worked for many years as a political, environmental, and travel writer with hundreds of features in the Los Angeles Times, Travel Leisure, Islands, and the International Herald Tribune. Currently, he is a correspondent for Science and also serves as one of the magazine's chief archaeology and human evolution writers. He lives in Paris, France.

Review quote

'A canny narrative history of a wondrous archaeological site, full of personality and personalities, and ripe with thoughtful conjecture.' Kirkus Reviews '(Balter) has produced a compelling read, one that achieves the double act of educating and entertaining.' Science Magazine 'Catalhoyuk is not only an archaeological site of tremendous importance, it is one with a dramatic history-both ancient and modern-that Balter tells with verve and an abundance of personal detail. His book is foremost about a site that offers unique insights into the origins of our own civilization; but at the same time it is an evocative portrayal of the process of archaeology itself.' Ian Tattersall, Curator, American Museum of Natural History 'This valuable, engaging study of a major site and the outstanding accomplishments of its excavators will delight archaeology and anthropology students and their teachers.' Library Journal 'I liked it very much. A little heavy on theory for my taste but exciting to read of what could have been the first town. I also approve of burying the dead under the floor. At least you'll remember where you put them.' David Bowie 'This is an intelligent, provocative book by a distinguished science writer...' Pat Shipman, Nature, Vol 435 'It is a compelling story that should be read by anyone interested in how we came to be what we are.' Nicholas Saunders, New Scientist 'Michael Balter has written the most informative and the most engaging book on an archaeological project I have ever read.' Greg Gatenby, Books in Canada

Flap copy

Veteran science writer Michael Balter skillfully weaves together many threads in this biography of the excavation one of archaeologyas most legendary prehistoric sitesa AatalhAyA1/4k, Turkey.

Table of contents

* Introduction* "It's Neolithic!"* A Prehistoric Art Gallery* The Dorak Affair* Ian Hodder* Return to Catalhoyuk* On the Surface* At the Trowel's Edge* Dear Diary* The Neolithic Revolution* The Domesticated Human* Fault Lines and Homecomings* Burning Down the House* "Always Momentary, Fluid and Flexible"* The Long Season* Til Death Us Do Part* Taming the Wild* The Goddess and the Bull* Epilogue