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James Mellaart: The Journey to Çatalhöyük

Alan Mellaart and contributors. Edited by Emma L Baysal

Published by Archaeology and Art Publications, Istanbul

Cornucopia special offer

£65.00 / $89.11 / €74.87
($/€ approx)

Hardback, 476pp, 239 illustrations (149 colour, 90 black and white)

Price in Turkey: TL420 incl p&p. To order in Turkey, email
Book Description

This book explores the life of an archaeologist, James Mellaart (universally known as Jimmy), who both revolutionised the way we think about the prehistory of Turkey and became the centre of great controversy.

James Mellaart was a pioneering archaeologist who made some of the greatest discoveries about Turkey’s prehistoric past, changing our understanding of the late stone age forever. His excavation of the huge Neolithic mound site of Çatalhöyük, now a World Heritage Site, brought revolutionary evidence of a complex prehistoric town, revealing previously undreamt of art and culture, and making him famous. However, there was far more to the man than his archaeology – his troubled childhood, fierce identity, love for Turkish culture, as well as the controversies by which he was dogged, meant that his life was filled with adventure and exoticism.

This book delves into the life of James Mellaart and his wife Arlette, their family histories and historical Istanbul, the romantic backdrop to Mellaart’s ground-breaking work. His son Alan explores in detail how the lives of his parents and their respective families unfolded, set against the social whirl of a summer palace on the Bosphorus. Mellaart’s archaeological discoveries and the excitement of excavation are vividly explained in first-hand accounts by those who were there at the time. Historical reports, eyewitness accounts from those who knew him and assessments of the impact of both Mellaart’s work and character by leading academics show the undoubted importance of his contribution to the archaeology of Turkey and the wider Near East. Richly illustrated in colour throughout, here for the first time the reader encounters previously unseen archive materials, including Mellaart’s personal notebooks and accounts, giving new perspective on one of the greatest and most controversial characters in the history of archaeology.

The launch of the book coincides with a new BBC documentary series, Raiders of the Lost Past. Episode 3, The World’s Oldest City, is on air on March 5.


Alan C. Mellaart is British, was born in Istanbul, and speaks fluent Turkish. He is the son of Arlette and James Mellaart, retired lecturer in Anatolian and Near Eastern Archaeology at London University, who discovered Çatalhöyük, one of the world’s earliest Neolithic urban sites dating from 7000 BC.

Contributors: Sinan Kuneralp, Mehmet Özdoğan, Seton Lloyd, David Stronach, Maxime Brami, Refik Duru, Ian Todd, Grace Huxtable, Emma L Baysal, Peder Portenseb, John Ingham, Ian Hodder, Kenneth Pearson, Patricia Connor, Donald Easton, John Carswell, Trevor Watkins

The editor: Prof Emma Baysal received her PhD from the University of Liverpool in 2010 and is now Associate Professor of Pre-History at Ankara University. Her area of specialisation is the Neolithic Period and her research focuses on the history of personal ornamentation, focusing on the technological, social and economic role of beads, bracelets, and other artefacts from the Paleolithic to The Bronze Age. She conducts research at many archaeological sites throughout Turkey and was awarded a British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship for international development.

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