Turkey (background)

The Site

Boncuklu is located on the outskirts of Hayıroğlu Village in Konya Province, central Turkey.

It is approximately 30km southeast of the city of Konya and 9.5km north of the World Heritage Listed archaeological site of Çatalhöyük. For information about visiting the site go to “Visit Boncuklu”.

2 The site of BoncukluToday Boncuklu is a small mound in a dusty landscape surrounded by many irrigated farmers’ fields; 10,000 years ago it was part of a revolution which made settled life in houses and farming a normal part of our lives.

The site was discovered by Doug Baird (University of Liverpool) on the final day of the Konya Plain Survey in 2001, which aimed to map all of the ancient settlements in the Konya Plain to help understand the long term history of the region. Boncuklu is one of several sites from the earliest phase of village life identified on the plain and the first to be excavated. It was occupied 1000 years before its better known neighbor of Çatalhöyük, which had large rectangular houses, similar to houses still built today, and whose people relied heavily on farming crops and herding sheep for their livelihood. The people of Boncuklu lived very differently and studying them and their site allows us to understand the first development of the farming way of life in this part of Turkey.

Boncuklu and Çatalhöyük are part of a cluster of sites dating between 13,000 and 6,000 years ago in and near the Konya Plain (see map above), which are providing us a new story of how and when people first settled down into villages and began farming in this region.

BK planBoncuklu is a small mound, or höyük/tepe in Turkish, which is artificially created by the build-up of debris from people’s lives. It is approximately 1 Ha in area and 1-2m in depth. Boncuklu’s people started to build on a natural rise of land in an otherwise flat and wet landscape. Building successive mud brick buildings one on top of the next, the mound started to grow outwards and upwards. The mound is made up of the remains of mud brick buildings, outdoor working areas and the rubbish that people left behind.

Most of the hills you see on the Konya Plain today are actually artificial mounds. There are thousands of höyüks in Turkey and many more in southwest Asia and southeast Europe.

In modern times, before Boncuklu was recognised as an ancient settlement, the villagers of Hayıroğlu used the mound as a threshing floor where they removed the grain from their harvested crops. As a result it was damaged in places and the tracks through the site can still be seen today. Boncuklu, or ‘place with beads’ in Turkish, is so called by the local villagers because the surface of the site glistened with prehistoric beads following the spring rains.

After its archaeological discovery the mound was protected with a fence and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism makes sure activity at the site is monitored by posting a guard at the site throughout the year.