Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


SCHMITT, Axel K., Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, DANI?ÍK, Martin, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, 3204, New Zealand, AYDAR, Erkan, ATERRA R&D, Yuksel Cad. 30/8, Kizilay, Ankara, 06420, Turkey and LOVERA, Oscar M., Dept. of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567,

A ~6600 BCE wall painting excavated at the Neolithic Çatalhöyük site (Central Anatolia, Turkey) has been interpreted as the world’s oldest depiction of an active volcano, and as such it represents the earliest artistic representation of a landscape, or map. According to a widely cited interpretation [1] the Çatalhöyük mural putatively depicts an explosive summit eruption of the Hasan Dağ twin-peaks volcano located ~130 km northeast of Çatalhöyük, and a birds-eye view of a town plan in the foreground. This interpretation, however, has remained controversial [2] not least because independent evidence for a contemporaneous explosive volcanic eruption of Hasan Dağ has been lacking. Here, we report the presence of andesitic pumice veneer on the summit of Hasan Dağ, which we dated using (U-Th)/He zircon geochronology. The age of 8.97±0.64 ka (or 6960±640 BCE; uncertainties 2σ) overlaps closely with published 14C ages for cultural strata at Çatalhöyük, including level VII containing the “map” mural. A second pumice sample from a deposit near the base of Hasan Dağ records an older explosive eruption at 28.9±1.5 ka. U-Th zircon crystallization ages in both samples range from near-eruption to >380 ka. Collectively, these results reveal protracted intrusive activity at Hasan Dağ which was punctuated by at least two episodes of explosive venting over the last 30,000 years. This is also the first radiometric age determination indicating a Holocene explosive eruption of Hasan Dağ which was most likely witnessed by humans in the area. The geologic and geochronologic evidence thus is consistent with previous interpretations that residents of Çatalhöyük artistically represented an explosive eruption of Hasan Dağ volcano. The magmatic longevity recorded by quasi-continuous zircon crystallization coupled with new evidence for late-Pleistocene and Holocene explosive eruptions implicates Hasan Dağ as a potential volcanic hazard.


[1] Mellaart, J. Çatal Hüyük: a Neolithic town in Anatolia. Thames and Hudson: London (1967)

[2] Meece, S. A bird’s eye view – of leopard’s spots: the Çatalhöyük ‘map’ and the development of cartographic representation in prehistory. Anatolian Studies 56, 1-16 (2006)