Goodbye Dhiban & Hello Çatalhöyük

Cross-posted from the Dhiban Excavation and Development Project Blog:


As the sun sets on Tell Dhiban, the colors become deeper, pink-tinged, and the limestone blocks look stunning against the blue sky. The wadi turns golden and a small wind picks up, cooling off the air. It’s really the best time to work up on the tell, and I saw several sunsets from the edge of my trench in the last week of the excavation. Everyone was working furiously on their trench reports and Harris Matrices. I was staying a couple of days later than most people, so I was up on the tell, drawing and photographing mostly alone.  It was nice, a break from the busy work days with so many people in the trench all the time.

In the last few days, I had tea with Zaid and Abu Jamal up on the tell. The teapot is a symbol of hospitality in Jordan, and the sugary sage tea they served was lovely.  I sat with them, chatted a bit in our patois of English and Arabic and realized that I would miss Jordan in the year to come.

Thanks to Dhiban for the hospitality and we will see you next year!

And written a couple of weeks ago:


The transition from Dhiban to Catalhoyuk was a bit strange—it was like starting the summer over again. I ended up having a day in Istanbul to soften the blow, where I got a haircut, bought new socks, and drank with the Damascus city planner and his friend at a table in the Beyoglu. Istanbul is my favorite city in the world and I still hope to live there at some point.

Finishing up at Dhiban was a bit of a whirlwind with all of the drawing, photography, and reports to write. Then it was off to a 3:30AM flight from Amman after another 18 hour work day.  Catalhoyuk seems relaxing after such an intense excavation (mudbricks being a bit lighter than ashlars) but it has its own stresses and I was happy to meet with the Southampton visualization team and spend my days drawing mudbrick elevations.

The elevations are from Building 49—the lovely little 5x5m building that I excavated last year with Dan and Lou. At the end of the season we thought we were close to the end of the building sequence and into construction levels, but the building kept producing floors and burials and kept a few of the excavators here in Turkey for longer than they’d planned. This tradition continued this year when I notice a bit of a skull coming out of the bottom of the original cut in the building—another child burial! This was a 4-5 year old that was buried with a shell with red pigment, hiding at the very bottom of the NW platform sequence.

Now I’m working in a lovely burned building in the south area, the location of Mellaart’s 1960s excavations. The building seems fairly elaborate (Neolithic column capitals! Red paint! Second story!) but I can’t get too attached because I’m headed back to Berkeley in a week. Hopefully we’ll have most of the collapse out of the building by then because we’re only digging a small strip of it—the rest goes into the section and the only reason we’re digging it is to step the large trench out for safety reasons. Still, I should have some pretty photos from the week to come.

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye Dhiban & Hello Çatalhöyük”

  1. Safety at a field school?

    Just kidding. Sounds amazing. Jealous, as always, except about the drawing parts. Maybe next year you can drag me over for a couple weeks and I can tear some buildings up.

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