Cattle traction was a technological innovation that made a significant impact on production, individual and household wealth, and social organisation. Despite ongoing debates regarding the origins and extent of the harnessing of cattle power among early agropastoral societies, only a few studies have attempted at addressing this matter systematically. In Neolithic Çatalhöyük, several studies have explored the symbolism and domestication of aurochs and cattle, while the systematic investigation of Bos skeletal remains regarding the presence of cattle traction has been missing. This study focuses on Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Central Anatolia, renowned for its cattle symbolism, to explore the possibility of cattle traction in the 7th and 6th millennium BCE. We studied the palaeopathological traces on the lower limbs of Bos from Çatalhöyük East (Early, Middle, and Late) and West Mounds. Our results suggest that arthropathies are present on the Bos lower limbs (particularly anterior elements) in all phases of Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Pathological and sub-pathological changes are on average more severe among the small cattle of Çatalhöyük West than in the preceding periods at Çatalhöyük East, a result affected by a few rather deformed specimens in Çatalhöyük West. We did not observe any clear correlation between cattle survivorship, size, and pathology severity. Although an unequivocal association between pathologies and traction in prehistoric cattle remains challenging, we discuss plausible explanations for the changing nature and intensity of cattle pathologies at Çatalhöyük throughout time. Furthermore, we discuss the implications of possible draught use of cattle for the socioeconomic shifts Çatalhöyük experienced in the 6th millennium BC.

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