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Turkey: Prehistoric Site Bears Telltale Signs of Modern Woes

At its peak, 3,500 to 8,000 people lived there

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Turkey, Prehistoric, Modern Woes
Photo of researchers excavating the ruins of Catalhoyuk, June 18, 2019. 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. VOA

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 Monday, 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.”

Turkey, Prehistoric, Modern Woes
The researchers examined 742 human skeletons unearthed at the prehistoric ruins of Catalhoyuk. VOA

High rate of infections

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.

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“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.

Weather played a role

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 32 acres (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. (VOA)

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11 mn Saplings Were Simultaneously Planted in Turkey During Mass Campaign

Despite the initial target of 11 million, nearly 14 million saplings were adopted for the campaign

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Saplings
The planting started precisely at 11.11 a.m. lwith a view to carrying Turkey into the Guinness Book of Records by planting the highest number of Saplings in an hour and creating the largest digital photo album of the event. Pixabay

Eleven million Saplings were simultaneously planted on Monday across Turkey as part of a mass campaign aimed at contributing to the agriculture while establishing a greener landscape for future generations.

The campaign is dubbed “Breath Into the Future”, Xinhua news agency quoted Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli as saying.

“We ensured that 11 million saplings were planted in three hours at 2,023 different points in 81 provinces,” he said.

The planting started precisely at 11.11 a.m. lwith a view to carrying Turkey into the Guinness Book of Records by planting the highest number of saplings in an hour and creating the largest digital photo album of the event.

Saplings
Eleven million Saplings were simultaneously planted on Monday across Turkey as part of a mass campaign aimed at contributing to the agriculture while establishing a greener landscape for future generations. Pixabay

Despite the initial target of 11 million, nearly 14 million saplings were adopted for the campaign, with 212,000 in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, and nearly 340,000 in the capital Ankara.

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Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared November 11 as National Forestation Day. (IANS)