I live in an apartment in Ankara. Like most of the city it’s made of brick, re-inforced concrete and double glazing. It’s convenient and comfortable but sadly it requires us to live in a way that’s simply not sustainable. Our home and the city we live in, depend on natural gas piped from Russia and Iran to keep warm in winter but it’s lack of insulation means we burn much more than we need to. Our electricity is generated hundreds of kilometers away, our food comes from all over the planet and I have no idea where our water comes from or where the waste goes. It seems we don’t really have any other options, or do we?
On the hills behind us there is a village called Koçumbeli. Nobody lives there anymore but it’s a really special place because people were living there… four thousand years ago. Today all you can see are parts of the walls and where the doors were. The views are great. Its a perfect location. A spring runs through it, crystal clear water that flows all year round.
Archaeologists say the community that lived here were successful ranchers and textile workers. So successful that their Bronze Age culture spread from here throughout Europe. For more than a thousand years they stayed here all year round, making their own food, pottery, jars to store things in, tools, clothes, furniture and toys. Our ancestors weren’t just surviving on the hillside, they were thriving. Of course life at that time would have been hard but lets pause and think for a minute about what they achieved. First up, they don’t seem to have destroyed their environment. They imported very little and used local, natural materials for housing, clothing, food, energy, technology and equipment.
They weren’t isolated cavemen. Like us they had moved on from the Stone Age and were now part of a bigger society, a culture, a state with an economy. They worked hard to raise animals and weave fabric from the wool they harvested. Some of this they traded for the other things they needed to sustain themselves. They endured for many generations. They seem to have enjoyed a sustainable living – right on our doorstep here in Ankara. They leave me wondering, what more could we learn from them?
1 minute challenge:
This amazing storage jar is huge, almost as tall as a person. It was painstakingly put together piece by piece by students and academics at Middle East Technical University. It’s from Koçumbeli and has a ram’s head motif.
What do you think it was used for?
Put your answer in the reply/comment box below.