In the mid-twentieth century, archaeologists like James Mellaart believed female figurines like this one represented fertility goddesses. This idea became popular in New Age culture, whose adherents celebrated the idea that ancient peoples were woman-centric and shared a cult of goddess worship. But over the past twenty years, evidence from Çatalhöyük and contemporaneous sites have undermined this interpretation.
As Stanford archaeologist Lynn Meskell has pointed out in a number of papers about figurines found at Çatalhöyük, little material evidence suggests that these curvaceous statuettes were the objects of worship. Nearly all such figurines have been found in garbage piles, as if they were built for a specific purpose—whether spiritual or playful—and then thrown away.
They are also rarely built with bases, so they could never have been erected for display. Instead, they might have been passed from hand-to-hand, or perhaps worn as ornaments.