the invention of mirrors

One of the weirdest things about Çatalhöyük may be the uniformity of the structures. The houses in the town of perhaps 8000 people were all more or less identical. Like cells in a hive perhaps. Or apartments in a contemporary apartment building. (As a point of comparison, a fare I had the other week told me that there are 8000 people working in 'his' building on George Street in the City.) The spatial arrangements were the same for every house. Entrances were always on the southern side, beside the kitchen area. The same domestic activites took place in the same areas of different houses. It has been suggested that people were restricted as to where they could actually be in this highly organised space - as they were, and in some case still are, so restricted in houses in Fiji and other parts of central Polynesia. Whether this formalised space was as oppressive as some think is perhaps a moot point. In purely physical terms, it may have been - many of the skeletons dis-interred there have carbon deposits in the chest cavity, apparently because of long term inhalation of smoke from the ovens, where animal dung and/or wood fires burned. The picture of this very large number of people packed in their family units into functionally identical houses in a vast walled compound is very strange. What sort of psychic world did they inhabit? Are those images of wild nature in their murals and sculptures nostalgic, propitiatory, celebratory, what? There were no streets in Çatalhöyük and no public buildings, or public spaces, have yet been uncovered - which may not mean that there were no communal activities, only that they took place outside the town. There is little evidence of violent death among the population and the walls of the town were not defensive fortifications, they were simply the external walls of the outermost houses. A far-ranging trade in obsidian was centred in that part of Anatolia and it's possible that the people of Çatalhöyük participated in this trade, though it isn't clear what they might have got in exchange for the volcanic glass. They certainly used it to make mirrors, which were sometimes buried with the women who, presumably, owned them. Men were more likely to have obsidian daggers in their graves. What are the implications of the invention of mirrors? Each in our cell, dreaming of a cell, in which another also lives; another just as we are; while in the next cell ...

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