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Çatalhöyük mural may show ancient volcanic eruption

This is the Hasan Dagi volcano.
This is the Hasan Dagi volcano.
Janet C. Harvey

The Çatalhöyük mural may depict the eruption of the Hasan Dagi volcano in Turkey according to new research conducted by Axel Schmitt from the University of California Los Angeles and colleagues from other institutions that was published in the Jan. 7, 2014, edition of the journal Public Library of Science.

The Neolithic Çatalhöyük mural is considered to be the oldest existing map made by man and was constructed with paintings on the stone walls of a cave about 8,614 years ago. The location where the mural was produced has a clear view of the Hasan Dagi volcano that is about 80 miles northeast of the site where the mural was painted.

The researchers examined the composition of the layers of volcanic ash on and around the Hasan Dagi volcano and determined the age of the volcanic ash using Uranium-Thorium-Helium zircon geochronology. The date range for the volcanic ash samples was found to be between 8,434 and 9,514 years ago.

The researchers contend that the dates that the mural was painted and the dating of the eruption of the Hasan Dagi volcano overlap sufficiently to presume that the mural depicts a volcanic eruption.

This is the first documented proof that ancient man witnessed and recorded the eruption of a volcano in wall paintings in the caves that men lived in at the time.