Rare 8,000-Year-Old Neolithic Fertility Figurine Discovered in Turkey

The ancient object is in near perfect condition.

The zaftig figurine, discovered in Turkey. Photo courtesy the Turkish Ministry of Culture

Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered a rare 8,000-year-old Neolithic statue of a woman, thought to be a fertility symbol used in an ancient ritual, as announced by the Turkish Ministry of Culture.

The rounded female figurine was discovered at Çatalhöyük in the Turkish province of Konya, where there is a large Neolithic archaeological site. Around 2,000 similar statues have been discovered at the site since the dig began in 2009 but what sets this statue apart is its near perfect condition and the fact it was made out of stone as opposed to the majority of artifacts, which were rendered in clay.

The rounded female, thought to date from 8000-5500 BC, was discovered by an international team headed up by Stanford Professor Ian Hodder. According to Hodder, the figure was discovered alongside a piece of dark obsidian stone, indicating that it was part of a fertility ritual. It was previously thought that figures such as these were mother goddesses but Hodder thinks they represent older woman of a high social status.

“The new figurine certainly suggests such an interpretation with its sagging breasts and belly,” he told the Associated Press.

The beautiful rounded figurine sits at 17cm tall and weighs 1kg. Many such figures depicting both animals like cows and sheep, and rounded people such as the figure in question, have been discovered at Çatalhöyük, one of the world’s oldest cities, dating back to 9,000 BC.

Included in the 2012 UNESCO World Heritage List, Çatalhöyük has been investigated by archaeologists for the last 50 years keen to study the wealth buildings, art, and objects that can be found there. In 1993 the Çatalhöyük Research Project has recruited a group of international specialists to investigate the site, according to their website.

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