Neolithic Art in the Ancient Near East Part 2

Another excavation from the site of çatal Höyük, Turkey, is the painting of a landscape with what scholars speculate is a volcanic eruption.

What’s significant about this particular painting is that it is the oldest known, and quite possibly the first, landscape painting (which is a painting of a natural setting, without any narrative content) to be made. According to radio-carbon dating, this artwork dates back to around 6150 BCE.

At first glance, I thought it was really difficult to interpret this painting. To me, it doesn’t look like a relatively accurate depiction of a volcano or of a volcanic eruption. However, scholars speculate that the blue blocks in the foreground represent a town, quite possibly Çatal Höyük itself.

Behind the blocks appears a mountain, with two peaks. It may very well have been the 10,600-foot-high Hasan Dag, which was located in view of Çatal Höyük and is the only twin-peaked volcano in Anatolia. Some believe that the lines and dots around the mountain are the lava spewing out of a volcanic eruption and that this painting is actually documenting a historic event. If this is indeed the case, then this painting would not a true landscape painting. Nonetheless, it would still be the first time when artists used something other than human beings and/or animals as the principal subject matter.

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