Cayonu Excavation Site

Cayonu Excavation Site

The Ergani Valley houses the Çayönü mountain pass, which is also an excavation site with more than 6,000 square meters of floor space. In 1962, the first scientific research at the Çayönü site began with excavations initiated by Halet Çambel and Robert J. Braidwood.

A small portion of the excavation site was transformed into a museum in 1990 and 1991. When excavations resumed in 2015, the Outdoor Museum was expanded with modern promotional opportunities for visitors to comprehend the historical connections between settlements and Hilar Rocks and to learn how pottery symbolizes the lifestyle of prehistoric societies. Çayönü holds great historical significance for the transitional period from 9,300 to 6,300 B.C., a span of 3,000 years when humans moved from hunting and gathering to sedentary lifestyle and animal husbandry. The long-term settlement protected the environment, but also utilized it in all possible ways to find solutions to environmental destructions with their own myths.

The architectural history of Çayönü is significant because it offers solutions to many common problems. For instance, single-floor square structures had stone basements, and circular pothole shelters were constructed from wattles or reeds. Moreover, it laid the foundations for traditional Anatolian village architecture.

Terrazzo, the oldest type of mosaic tile, is made by baking lime. The Kafatasli Yapi, or Skull Building, where 400 individuals are buried, represents ancestor and death cults, while the Flagstone Building features traditional chamber tombs. Placa, a structure measuring 60 x 20 meters, rests elegantly on tall rectangular steles.

Cayonu Excavation Site

The Çayönü excavation site produced not only beads and various ornamental jewelry but also served as workshops for other purposes, such as the production of needles, scrapers, and stone drill bits used for drilling holes in rock.

Graves contained multiple types of beads and similar objects made from various materials, including stones, teeth, and shells. The preference for curving rather than settling on a particular technique indicates that people favored custom-made or exchange methods over in-settlement production.

The archaeological finds related to fabric production suggest that textile making was an important occupation during this period. Needles and thimble sets rich in bone demonstrate the intensive sewing activity at that time.

Various kinds of excavators, including stalked excavators, knives, pencils, and various drillers and ends made from flint stones and obsidian material, were used in the settlement. The horn hooks, milling stones, grinding stones, and beetles found on the site attest to the importance of cereals and pulses in vegetable production. Stone tools such as stone cannons, channel stones, and flat-hole stones indicate that agricultural activities were taking place alongside gathering items.