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The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk - an Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 15. Januar 2009

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"This is a clear and detailed account of how archaeological methodology and different avenues of scientific investigation (archaeobotany, micromorphology and physical anthropology) can be combined to help us understand cultural, religious, and ideological contexts at Catalhoyuk. Balter's vivid image of a functioning archaeological community is a unique perspective that is thoroughly enjoyable." -Katie Jaye-Lipton, Minerva

"Balter uses the personlities of the people who have excavated the Turkish archaeological site of Catalhoyuk to draw in his reader and to help understand the passion, decisions and dedication that it takes to work for years at an archaeological site.... The Goddess and the Bull is the wonderful true story of one of the largest and most populated Neolithic settlements.... Highly recommended for undergraduates, because the book does a wonderful job of explaining various archaeological theories in a way that is easy to understand." -Melissa Aho, Anthropology Review Database

"The dawn of civilization means here the beginnings of living in cities and the emergence of complex social and symbolic systems. The author, a celebrated scientific journalist of Science, perceptively explores the way in which the archaeological record is interpreted over time. His study retraces some fifty years of excavation at Catalhoyuk, one of the largest Neolithic settlements in central Turkey's Konya Plain, which was discovered in 1958 by British archaeologist James Mellaart. This 9,500 old prehistoric village, which was inhabited for a thousand years and whose population is estimated to have been approximately 8,000 at its peak, is made of well preserved mud-brick houses in which artworks depict leopards, vultures, bulls and 'Mother Goddesses'. Balter's skillfully crafted report should be of interest to semioticians not so much for his descriptions of the artifacts as for his vivid rendering of the archaeological process. His main focus is indeed on the archaeologists themselves, who are not mere names appended to scientific articles or books reporting data and interpretations, but embodied minds embedded in institutions and complex webs of influences. Each one is introduced by a life story and his/her involvement with Catalhoyuk is described in both intellectual and emotional terms. But, perhaps more importantly, this book dramatizes the theoretical and methodological changes that occurred during the last fifty years in archaeology. The paradigm shifts from 'traditional' to 'New', then from 'Processual' to 'Post-processual' archaeology are lucidly explained as well as their consequences in the field. Balter exemplifies, without using the word, the semiotic turn in archaeology, the explicit quest for the meanings that prehistoric artifacts had for the people who made them and used them." -Semiotix

"(Balter) has produced a compelling read, one that achieves the double act of educating and entertaining." -Science Magazine

"All in all, this book is an exciting read. Balter knows his stuff and anyone interested in the origins of civilization and the ultimate foundations of the modern world we live in will enjoy and learn from it. Besides that, there is basically an undergraduate education in archaeological theory included." -Political Affairs


In "The Goddess and the Bull", veteran "Science" magazine reporter, Michael Balter takes you inside the trenches of one of the world's most important archaeological excavations and the biggest prehistoric village ever discovered: 9,500 year old Catalhoeyuek, in south-central Turkey. Thousands of years before the pyramids were built in Egypt, a great civilization arose on the Anatolian plains. "The Goddess and the Bull" details the dramatic quest by archaeologists to unearth the buried secrets of this huge, spectacularly well-preserved early farming settlement.Here lie the origins of modern society-the dawn of art, architecture, religion, the nuclear family-even the first tangible evidence of human self-awareness, the world's oldest mirrors. Some archaeologists have claimed that a Mother Goddess was first worshipped at atalhyk, which is now a site of pilgrimage for Goddess worshippers from all over the world. The excavations here have unearthed the seeds of the Neolithic Revolution, when prehistoric humans first abandoned the hunter-gatherer life they had known for millions of years, invented farming, and began living in houses and communities.Michael Balter, the excavation's official "biographer," brings readers behind the scenes, providing the first inside look at the remarkable site and its history of scandal and thrilling scientific discovery.

He tells the human story of two colourful men: British archaeologist James Mellaart, who discovered atalhyk in 1958 only to be banned from working at the site forever after a fabulous Bronze Age treasure he had found earlier disappeared without a trace; and Ian Hodder, a path-breaking archaeological rebel, who reinvented the way archaeology is practiced and reopened the excavation after it lay dormant for three decades.Today, Hodder leads an international team of more than one hundred archaeologists who continue to probe the site's ancient secrets. Balter pulls the curtain on romantic notions about archaeology to reveal the true story behind modern excavations - the thrill of history-making scientific discovery as well as the crushing disappointments, the community and friendship, the love affairs, and the often bitter rivalries between warring camps of archaeologists. Along the way, Balter describes the cutting-edge advances in archaeological science that have allowed the team at atalhyk to illuminate the central questions of human existence.

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