December 3rd 2010
Comparing Catalhoyuk, Pompeii, and Carcassonne
Catalhoyuk provides a unique look into Neolithic civilization that cannot be found in such an urban setting elsewhere in the world. Because of its age, it offers a base from which to judge the sophistication of later civilizations. The Roman city of Pompeii and the French medieval city of Carcassonne mark two major eras in human history, and thus serve as great bodies to compare to Catalhoyuk. By comparing these cities, despite being separated in time by thousands of years, modern man can gain insight into their own society and how culture evolves. The well preserved architecture of these cities displays an evolving emphasis on cultural aspects of society, such as religion and social gathering places. These are the aspects of life which bring people together under one cultural identity, which, as it has grown stronger through the years, inspires more work towards the public good rather than the individual good. Evolution and development of a cultural identity is necessary for the advancement of civilization. Catalhoyuk displays particularly uncommon traits for a city. The vertically based architecture is different than anything else found until thousands of years later in the castles of the high middle ages. Rather than expanding outwards, the Neolithic people of Catalhoyuk built their mud homes on top of one and other. Considering that one’s home was filled in and built upon once they died, this would seem an inefficient way to expand a city, likely speaking to the city’s primitive, if even existent, level of planning. The people of the city did most of their living on the rooftops of their city, using ladders to move around between levels and to get in and out of their own homes. This method of traversing their city hits upon another unique aspect of Catalhoyuk, its lack of roads. There is a dearth of any kind of streets between houses or in and out of the city because people moved between rooftops rather than entering from the bottom of the building. This is a unique system not seen anywhere else in early European or Near Eastern cultures. This provided two major defensive benefits to the city. The lack of streets left no major entry points into the city from which to attack, and the raised mud-brick walls of their homes served as an exterior wall for the city. These signs show that defense was important to Catalhoyuk, as nomadic hunter-gatherers and other raiders must have been a problem for the first major permanent community. Looking at Carcassonne, it is clear the need for common defense only became greater as time progressed. However the way in which Carcassonne went about it is starkly different. The double-wall, inner-keep, and towers of Carcassonne took a level of planning and coordination not feasible in Catalhoyuk and possible in Carcassonne due to the greater organization and will of its people, primarily due to the strong cultural bonds of its people. These bonds united the people, allowing for centralized organization to coordinate projects for the good of the whole. Of apparent great importance to this is religion. Catalhoyuk is home to some of the earliest shrines and places of religious worship. A large amount of space was dedicated to places of religious worship, and household shrines were common. Their statues of their obese Mother Goddess point towards a worship of fertility and an importance placed in child-bearing women in society. On the exterior, there is no visible difference discerning places of worship from the typical household. Yet, large of amounts of space was dedicated to their religious practices. Compared to the basic living spaces of Catalhoyuk residents, high amounts of efforts were put into the design of religious space. The interiors are more elaborate, and like Romans with their Gods and the French with depictions of Christ, the people of Catalhoyuk put significant...
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