SITE VISIT: Vicarious Glimpse of Turkey's Treasures

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Science  20 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5393, pp. 1379
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5393.1379a

This week NetWatch surveys some of the Internet's archaeology offerings to complement our special News section on prehistoric transitions, beginning on page 1441. Some Web sites here are on topics covered by our News stories, such as rock art and a Neolithic Turkish settlement; others stray further afield into areas such as virtual archaeology.

One of the most closely watched digs these days is Çatalhöyük, a sprawling 9000-year-old village in central Turkey that's yielding surprising evidence that early settlers maintained primordial traditions of hunting and gathering (see p. 1442). The watching is made all the easier by the project's Web site,* maintained at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Archaeologists say Çatalhöyük appears to be the first dig to make its entire excavation database available on the Web, down to the exact location of each skeleton, clay pot, and stone ax. For those who don't need this much detail, extensive overviews are provided in the excavation reports of the 90-member team, as well as a newsletter that summarizes the latest findings. You can even get a sense of what it's like working at Çatalhöyük, thanks to electronic diaries: “At some point I think Iwill crack and start screaming at someone. … “wrote one team archaeologist in September. Intrigued? Read on.

For a more high-tech view of Çatalhöyük, visit the Science Museum of Minnesota's “Mysteries of Çatalhöyük” Web site, designed for schoolchildren and the general public. Visitors can take a virtual tour of the dig, view movies of ongoing excavations, or get answers to questions like “Why did they bury their dead under their houses?”

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