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Overcrowding May Have Led to Violence at Çatalhöyūk

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Turkey Çatalhöyūk violenceCOLUMBUS, OHIO—According to a Haaretz report, a team of researchers led by Clark Spencer Larsen of Ohio State University analyzed remains unearthed at the 9,000-year-old site of Çatalhöyūk, where as many as 8,000 people are thought to have lived in close proximity to each other in what is now south-central Turkey over a period of about 1,000 years. The scientists found that 25 of the 93 skulls that they studied showed signs of healed fractures, and 12 of those people had been beaten as many as five times with round, hard objects. A number of clay balls unearthed at the site are of about the right size to have inflicted the blows, the scientists note. “We found an increase in cranial injuries during the Middle period, when the population was largest and most dense,” Larsen said. “An argument could be made that overcrowding led to elevated stress and conflict within the community.” Infectious diseases and environmental problems, added to violence, are thought to have brought on the collapse of the town about 7,950 years ago. To read about another discovery at Çatalhöyūk, go to “Figure of Distinction.”

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