August 3, 2001

It is a 9,000-year-old, early Neolithic village - considered by some to be the world's first city. Some say it could have housed up to 10,000 people.

It was unearthed in the 1960s and was found to contain clusters of mud-brick houses with paintings and sculptures preserved on their inside walls. At the time, such evidence for art and symbolism from the period was unique. Work on the site stopped between 1965 and 1993. Excavations were resumed when Ian Hodder, then of Cambridge University and now at Stanford University, was given permission to restart.

Hodder has a 25-year permit from the Turkish authorities to dig at the site, renewed annually with an agreed work plan. The archaeologists are funded half by sponsors - paying in cash and in kind - and half by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board and other academic sources including US research foundations. The Turkish subsidiary of British Airways provides free and discounted flights. Other sponsors include Boeing and the Turkish arms of Thames Water and Shell.

Some workers at the site are paid while others at the start of their careers are volunteers.

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