I've spent the last week catching up on the past month's news and a name in the obituary columns struck a cord. James Mellaart died in London on 29th July at the age of 86. While I was at university, he was the recognized expert on neolithic Anatolia and his text book was compulsory reading for all archaeology undergraduates. This was the man who discovered and excavated Çatal Höyük in the 60s; a site that altered the perception of the neolithic age. I was soon sorting through a very dusty pile of books in our store room and managed to find my original copy of "The Neolithic of the Near East". That I still have it after 35 years and many moves is a triumph of hoarding that probably needs to be addressed.
In my student days, Mellaart was a respected archaeologist, but now he appears more renowned for scandals and mysteries. His biography is blighted by the Doruk affair. After a chance meeting on a train to Izmir with an ancient gold bracelet-wearing Anna Papastrati, Mellaart claims to have discovered and sketched a magnificently rich collection of antiquities which he named the "Royal Treasures of Doruk". Neither the treasures or Papastrati were ever seen again and and this incident and the seepage of finds from Çatal Höyük onto the open market, lead to Mellaart's banishment from Turkey. I don't remember reading anything about this in the late 1970s, but without the internet, we were reliant on the University library for all our research. This involved actually spending time in the building which wasn't nearly as attractive a prospect as time spent in the pub or local curry house. I'm redressing this lack of research now by scouring the internet for articles on Mellaart's life. If you are at all interested in archaeological mysteries, I suggest you do the same.