The original occupation at Arslantepe dates back to at least the 6th millennium BC, but the earliest settlement levels that have been excavated in large areas are from the Late Chalcolithic, Periods VIII (4200-3900 BCE) and VII (3800-3400 BCE) of the site sequence.
Period VII, which comprises at least seven superimposed building levels, already shows archaeological evidence showing the central role of the site in the Malatya region, and the full part that it played in forming the early “Centralized” societies of the Near East.
In the north-eastern area of the mound, at the periphery of the site, there are one- or two-roomed mud brick dwellings, in some cases decorated with red, black and white geometric paintings, working areas with ovens, and burials under the houses’ floors.
Higher up, at the top of the höyük, were impressive official buildings, with imposing mud bricks walls, often 1–1.20 metres thick, grouped together in different sectors. The working and storage areas and the "private" elite buildings, including a large building with painted walls and mud-brick columns, are located in the mound’s northernmost area. The column building must have had an important function, perhaps as the dwelling of chiefs or high rank families, but there are no clear signs of a religious or administrative use, though a few symbolic objects or prestige items have been found on the floor, such as a limestone mace head, and a ceramic object similar to the so-called “hut-symbols” or "eye-idols" from Tepe Gawra and Tell Brak.
South of this structure was a large tripartite ceremonial building, probably a temple, measuring 22 by 20 metres, standing on a platform of huge slabs of stone and mud bricks, according to a Mesopotamian model. The material found inside was all local, including hundreds of mass-produced bowls, which, unlike the Mesopotamian mould-made “bevelled rim bowls”, were made on a slow wheel. Together with the bowls numerous clay sealings bearing seal impressions, were found concentrated in one of the side rooms. These findings indicate that food redistribution must have taken place in the building in a ceremonial context, but under an administrative control.
The specialized craft activities, such as metallurgy or mass-produced pottery, suggests that labour was organized according to complex patterns, even though it was not yet under central control, as suggested from the numerous potters' marks that have been recognized on various types of vessels.