An Anatolian Goddess with Vultures Kilim
The Anatolian Goddess with Vultures in The Warp in the Weave actually existed, in as much as goddesses exist anywhere, any time. She was beyond ancient. In fact, she was most likely neolithic.
In 1958, one of the great archaeologists of the twentieth century, James Mellaart, discovered the remains of an ancient city known today as Çatal Hüyük in central Turkey. It remains as enigmatic and controversial today as it did then. Though not as old as Jericho, the size and scope of the civilization it reveals continues to challenge all we thought we knew about so-called primitive cultures. There was a goddess with vultures? She played with birds and cats?
Discovering such a find (not his first, by the way) helped elevate Mellaart to the status of Schliemann in the eyes of some. He held the seat as head of the esteemed British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara and published widely (readers of the Warp in the Weave take note: Eva held a similar position). Then, as is the case with many great people , he found himself at the center of a controversy that continues today.
One such firestorm concerned the Goddess with Vultures Herself. Though carvings of a goddess figure were discovered in Çatal Hüyük, Mellaart claimed he viewed the motif of the Goddess painted on the walls of the ancient site, paintings that disintegrated before they could be properly scrutinized, even though they were recorded in drawings by Mellaart and his team. The Goddess reigned with panthers, vultures, and other elements that Mellaart believed to be the origins of motifs enlivening the Turkish Kilim such as the one pictured above.
“So, how controversial is that?”, you may think. Plenty. We exist in a world that holds photographic evidence in the highest regard, irrespective of digital enhancements that challenge reality. An archaeologist who cannot verify sources or prove a hypothesis irrevocably, is suspect . Even a brilliant man with an impressive resume like Dr. Mellaart can be shot down and professionally ruined.
Like my Dr. Eva Friedrich in Warp in the Weave. On the other hand, just like Eva, James Mellaart did end up snarled in another controversy.
More on that story next time….