Some people seem to have a nose for finding things. The archaeologist James Mellaart is one of them. His nose led him to a discovery that changed the way we think about the beginnings of human civilization. That discovery, in central Anatolia, made him famous, and envied. Fame and envy led on to misfortune: one of his prizes vanished mysteriously into thin air, and his greatest find was snatched from him before he could finish work on it.
Nine thousand years ago, the plain of Konya was a hive of activity, for it was here, in the shadow of Hasandag, that the history of commerce began. Before the Mesopotamians, Minoans or Egyptians, the people of Catalhüyük (or Çatalhöyük) created one of the first cities known to man. Built from the profits of their trade in obsidian, the glassy volcanic rock used to make early implements, this was a flourishing settlement that has forced archaeologists to rethink the chronology of civilisation. James Mellaart, who unearthed the city and its stunning wall paintings, recalls the stages of a momentous discovery