Catal Höyuk is the modern name for a Neolithic (Stone Age) city in Anatolia (present day Turkey), which was contemporary with the city of Jericho. The city flourished for two thousand years in uninterrupted peace, its people clearly dedicated to creating symbolic art on the inside walls of their houses, altars, shrines and figurines. Their favorite subjects for their art are cattle horns, ram horns, leopards and voluptous, naked women. The women all look formidable and powerful, seated on thrones flanked with leopards, covered with red ochre symbols, handling leopard cubs or standing in power poses. They could represent spiritual leaders, matriarchs, female elders, or goddesses. The enthroned woman flanked with leopards seems to be the archaic iconographic prototype of the later great goddess Cybele who was worshipped in Anatolia and known to the Romans as Magna Mater – the Great Mother. Males were rarely depicted but do show up on wall paintings depicting hunting scenes. A voluptous woman is always depicted as if supervising the hunt – perhaps a goddess of the hunt, or a shamaness trying to use her magical powers to aid the hunters? We know little of their beliefs, but archaeologist say that they have found no indication of neither class nor gender hierarchy in any significant scala.
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