Sun, Jul 07, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Prehistoric settlement in Turkey bears telltale signs of modern woes
土耳其史前遺跡 洩露現代社會問題

A view of Catalhoyuk after the first excavations by English archaeologist James Mellaart and his team in 1958.
加泰土丘經過英國考古學家詹姆斯‧梅拉爾特與其團隊在一九五八年首次挖掘後呈現的樣貌。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

Overcrowding. Violence. Infectious diseases. Environmental degradation. It may sound like the worst of modern mega-cities.

But people encountered these very same problems when the first large settlements were being established millennia ago as humans began to swap a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence for a lifestyle centered on farming, scientists said on June 17, based on findings from a prehistoric site in south-central Turkey.

The researchers examined 742 human skeletons unearthed at the prehistoric ruins of Catalhoyuk, inhabited from 9,100 to 7,950 years ago during a pivotal time in human evolution, for clues about what life was like at one of the earliest sizable settlements in the archeological record. At its peak, 3,500 to 8,000 people lived there, with the researchers calling it a “proto-city.”

The residents experienced a high rate of infections, as seen in their teeth and bones, probably caused by diseases spreading in crowded conditions amid challenges to proper hygiene, the researchers said. Overcrowding may have contributed to interpersonal violence. Many skulls bore evidence of healed fractures to the top or back of the cranium, some with multiple injuries.

The shape of these injuries indicates they may have been caused by hard clay balls found at Catalhoyuk that researchers suspect were used as projectiles from a sling weapon. “A key message that people will take from these findings is that our current behaviors have deep roots in the history of humankind,” said Ohio State University biological anthropologist Clark Spencer Larsen, who led the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The people living in this community faced challenges of life in settlements addressing fundamental issues: what to eat, who produces the food, how is the food distributed, what are the social norms for division of labor, the challenges of infection and infectious disease in settings where there is limited sanitation, the strategy of interpersonal relationships involving animosity in some instances,” Larsen added.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. overcrowding n. 過度擁擠

(guo4 du4 yong2 ji3)

2. settlement n. 聚落 (ju4 luo4)

3. nomadic adj. 遊牧的 (you2 mu4 de5)

4. hunter-gatherer phr.

狩獵採集者 (shou4 lie4 cai3 ji2 zhe3)

5. interpersonal adj. 人際的

(ren2 ji4 de5)

6. sanitation n. 環境衛生


As the world emerged from the last Ice Age, with warmer conditions conducive to crop domestication, there was a shift from foraging to farming beginning 10,000 to 12,000 years ago among people in numerous places. The people grew crops including wheat, barley and rye and raised sheep, goats and eventually cattle. Some homes boasted wall murals, and other art included stone figurines of animals and corpulent women.

Catalhoyuk’s residents lived in clay brick structures akin to apartments, entering and exiting through ladders that connected the living areas of houses to the roofs. After death, residents were buried in pits dug into the floors of the homes.

Catalhoyuk, measuring about 13 hectares, was continuously occupied for 1,150 years and appears to have been a largely egalitarian community. It was eventually abandoned, perhaps because of environmental degradation caused by the human population and a drying climate that made farming there harder, the researchers said.

(Reuters)

過度擁擠、暴力、傳染性疾病、環境惡化,這聽起來就像是最惡劣的現代巨型都市。

不過,科學家在六月十七日指出,根據土耳其中南部一處史前遺址發現的證據顯示,人們早在幾千年前建立最初的大型聚落時,就遭遇過這些類似的問題,人類當時正開始從遊牧式狩獵採集的生活型態轉換成農牧為主的生活方式。

研究人員檢驗「加泰土丘」史前遺跡出土的七百四十二具人類骨骸,希望能找到線索,拼湊出人類當初在這處大型聚落中生活的樣貌。加泰土丘是考古紀錄中年代最早的一處大型聚落遺址,人類在九千一百年前到七千九百五十年前居住於此,當時正好是人類演化的關鍵時刻。在巔峰時期,當地約有三千五百到八千位居民,研究人員遂稱此地為一個「原始城市」。

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