Mesopotamian Prehistory

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  • Created by: Lauriie
  • Created on: 22-03-17 13:43
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  • Mesopotamian Prehistory
    • Hassuna
      • c6500-5700 BC (North)
      • North Iraq, named after the site where the remains and artefacts of a farming village were first found. Mostly Tigris based
      • 1-2 hectare villages Rectilinear, unplanned houses Village population c100 Egalitarian: houses essentially undifferentiated from each other, made of mud bricks and clay, occasionally with a stone foundation.
      • Households are about the same size and have about the same degree of wealth and power (not very much)Likely that older men are in charge? But definitely softer hierarchies, respect rather than force based.Most people probably somehow interrelated.
      • Pottery: Incised and painted simple pottery, household production (huge variability in terms of colour and scale- maybe collaboration in terms of kiln sharing but that’s it) Entirely handmade (no invention of the wheel yet)
      • Burials: within the village/ settlement, close to houses. Tend to be on their own in graves, not many grave goods.
      • All kinds of farming tools
    • Samarra
      • c6300-5500 BC (Central)
      • Actually below the rainfall / agriculture line : essentially based on irrigation agriculture (so had already invented irrigation) Mostly based on the Tigris, some near the Euphrates.
      • Rectilinear, standardised, T shaped houses (whatever drives production is causing the houses to be semi standardised)
      • Settlements with an outer wall, and an open plaza in the centre (Tell-es Sawwan) Maybe some more communal activities since there’s a dedicated community area.Outer wall not hugely defensive (2m high) probably the wall is a statement that the village is a group which does things together: sense of ‘our village’ as being distinct.
        • Irrigation: traces in the landscape of former canals, origin of irrigation c6300  Choga Mami region: very faint ditch which we can date from sites and soil samples. Parallel to the wadis and watershed so definitely not a natural feature. Deh Luran plain: similar ancient canal traces.Not too complex: small scale canals c 2m wide, several hundred m long
          • As soon as you are using irrigation, you get agriculture but also the emergence of inequality because land quality and value is different, closer to the beginning of the canal you can produce agricultural surplus, at the end it’s much harder to make a living. Specialisation could be a result of this: people with not good enough land might have had to trade (eg pottery for the agricultural surpluses)
      • Elaborately painted pottery, large plates and pots painted like baskets. Large ‘party plates’ with pictures at the bottom revealed during eating: much more advanced production. Semi-specialist production: part time village potters maybe
        • Not everybody involved in subsistence, already starting to get a bit of surplus
      • Stone statuettes (maybe artisans?) Don’t take a massive amount of skill to makeUsually found as grave goods: What are they representative of? Distinctly different from each other, possibly human portraits. Stone vessels made from local stone, again sometimes elaborate.
    • Halaf
      • c5600-4500 BC (North)
      • Found at Tell Halaf and ArpachiyahChanges in the North from an egalitarian society to a surplus producing society
      • ‘Tholos’ architecture: Circular rooms with rectangular bits stuck on the side (Nothing to do with Mycenaean Tholos tombs, just a slightly similar shape.Shift maybe coming out of the shape of nomadic tents? Also a persisting tradition of Hassuna rectilinear architecture but no difference in artefacts inside them.
      • Some sites have gone up to about 10 or 15 hectares, much more people Pretty good health, people lived up to 50 or 60.
      • Pottery: Incredibly beautiful pottery, looks like full time specialisation: developed kilns and manufacturing techniques.
      • Figurines: naked lady figurines, big mesopotamian tradition (looks similar to the Willendorf Venus c 23 000 BC) fertile female representations
      • Cemeteries: food provided in burials, definitely a developed idea of an afterlife, buried in the foetal position (maybe to reduce the size of the hole)
    • Ubaid
      • c6000-4000 CB (South)
        • Ubaid culture later took over the North replacing Halaf material culture
      • large unwalled village settlements, characterized by multi-roomed rectangular mud-brick houses and the appearance of the first temples of public architecture in Mesopotamia, with a growth of a two tier settlement hierarchy of centralized large sites of more than 10 hectares surrounded by smaller village sites of less than 1 hectare.
      • Domestic equipment included a distinctive fine quality buff or greenish colored pottery decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint;
        • tools such as sickles were often made of hard fired clay in the south. But in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used.
        • Villages thus contained specialised craftspeople, potters, weavers and metalworkers, although the bulk of the population were agricultural labourers, farmers and seasonal pastoralists.
          • tools such as sickles were often made of hard fired clay in the south. But in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used.
      • The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised  social stratification  and decreasing  egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of "Trans-egalitarian" competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.
      • Originally rainfall agriculture but made use of increasingly intense irrigation for farming later in the period

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