KONYA, Turkey

An 8,500-year-old marble statuette has recently been discovered in the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk in central Turkey, according to the head of an excavator team.

The statuette, a 5-centimeter-tall (2-inch-tall) prismatic figurine with a reclining human figure, was found during excavations in the southern mound of Catalhoyuk, one of the first urbanization models in Anatolia, in the Cumra district of Konya province, Ali Umut Turkcan told Anadolu Agency.

Turkcan, who is also an archeology professor at Turkey’s Anadolu University, said that the marble statuette is a rare piece and that there are no signs of gender in the figurine. However, he said, the piece “is reminiscent of figurines identified as male leaning back slightly on the back of an animal, similar to those found in excavations in the past.”

But, since the excavations began in 2016 in the southern mound at the Neolithic site, the preponderance of the artefacts has been female figurines.

Catalhoyuk, a 9,000-year-old ancient site in what is now central Turkey, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012.

The site testifies “to the evolution of the social organization and cultural practices as humans adapted to a sedentary life,” according to UNESCO.

“Although we think that we are working primarily for scientific findings, this is the beauty of archaeology, sometimes you may encounter surprises. You can expect even bigger surprises at Catalhoyuk. That is why such unique discovery motivates us to work even harder,” Turkcan added.

Catalhoyuk, the world’s oldest-known human settlement, was home to 8,000 people during the Neolithic period.

It is now an archaeological site where experts are researching ancient people’s social structure, diet and clothing.

The initial excavations at the site were done in 1960 by the late British archaeologist James Mellaart.

Significant discoveries have been made over the last 25 years during excavations led by Ian Hodder, an anthropology professor at Stanford University.

* Writing and contributions by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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