"The origin of the Sumerians is unknown. The intriguing question keeps
returning into the literature but has so far unsatisfactory answers.
The Sumerians were not the first people in Mesopotamia. They were not
present before 4000 BCE, while before that time village communities
existed with a high degree of organization. The ''principle of
agriculture'' was not discovered by the Sumerians. This is evident from
words the Sumerians use for items in relation to the domestication of
plants and animals.
A language (in particular as it appears in proper names and
geographical names) may show signs of so called substrate languages
(like the influence of Celtic on ancient Gaul; compare some Indian
geographical names in the US attesting the original inhabitants). Some
professional names and agricultural implements in Sumerian show that
agriculture and the economic use of metals existed before the arrival
of the Sumerians.
Sumerian words with a pre-Sumerian origin are:
professional names such as simug 'blacksmith' and tibira 'copper
smith', 'metal-manufacturer' are not in origin Sumerian words.
Agricultural terms, like engar 'farmer', apin 'plow' and absin
'furrow', are neither of Sumerian origin.
Craftsman like nangar 'carpenter', agab 'leather worker'
Religious terms like sanga 'priest'
Some of the most ancient cities, like Kish, have names that are not
Sumerian in origin.
These words must have been loan words from a substrate language. The
words show how far the division in labor had progressed even before the
(http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/meso/meso.htm - No
"Soon after 8,000 BC sedentary communities and
domestic plants and animals began to appear in many areas of South-west
Asia. These domesticates and allied agricultural economies were to
prove both successful and adaptable to the extent that within centuries
of their first appearance they had spread far outside the Fertile
Crescent. By 7,000 BC farmers in Greek Thessaly were subsisting on
cultivated emmerwheat and barley as well as domestic cattle and pigs."
site, currently undergoing excavation by German and Turkish
archaeologists, was erected by hunter-gatherers at perhaps 11,500 B.C.
(This is believed to be before the advent of sedentariness). It is
currently considered the oldest known shrine or temple complex in the
world, and the planet's oldest known example of monumental
Tepe - One of the most exciting discoveries
Turkish archaeology this century. It currently stands as the oldest
known Megalithic Temple complex in the world (9,000 BC). The site has
numerous intricately carved T-shaped megaliths, covered with exquisite
images of birds and animals."
is an early human settlement in southwestern Turkey, 25 km
southwest of present day Burdur. It has been dated back 7040 BC at its
earliest stage of development. Archaeological remains indicate that the
site was abandoned and reoccupied on more than one occasion in its
is another important center in Central Anatolia, near the
modern city of Burdur. There is evidence there of agriculture dating
back 9,000 years. Archaeologists have found considerable amounts of
wheat, barley and lentils in the houses at Hacilar, giving clues to
people’s diet and the history of domesticated foods.
and Hacilar are also considered two of the earliest clay
pottery centers. The existence of pottery is one very important
indirect benefits of the sedentary lifestyle created by the ability to
produce food year-round and even amass surpluses. Assured of their
ability to eat, and able to feed more than just the people who produced
food, these stone-age city dwellers had the opportunity and time invent
East Central Israel
is believed to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in
the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BC,
providing important information about early human habitation in the
Near East. The first permanent settlement was built near the Ein
as-Sultan spring between 8000 and 7000 BC by an unknown people, and
consisted of a number of walls, a religious shrine, and a 23-foot (7.0
m) tower with an internal staircase."
earliest settlement was located at the present-day Tell es-Sultan (or
Tell Sultan), a couple of kilometers from the current city. Arabic tell
means "mound" -- consecutive layers of habitation built up a mound over
time, as is common for ancient settlements in the Middle East and
Anatolia. The Neolithic settlements were contemporary with Catalhoyuk
and had a similar technology level."
people who came to Ein es Sultan are called PPNA (The initials stand
for Pre-Pottery Neolitiic A). They made their settlement at the spring
around 8,000 BC. As the name indicates, they had no pottery. (Though as
a well-preserved site at Catal Huyuk, Turkey shows they had wooden
PPNA culture also raised their own domesticated wheat. (The bones of
domesticated sheep and goats and the grains of domesticated wheat can
be distinguished from the wild varieties easily.)
people built circular dome-shaped one-room huts of curved adobe bricks
covered over with plastered mud. Similar circular huts are still built
by peasants in northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey. Sites of the
PPNA culture are found all over Israel, Jordan, Syria, and northern
Iraq and a similar early agricultural village of what was probably a
closely related culture is found at Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey.
the first agricultural society known. The spread of PPNA probably went
along with the spread of a particular language across the Middle East,
so PPNA culture was probably spread by one particular people who drove
out or absorbed other peoples."
"Excavations have shown strata of occupancy going back to
the Neolithic period (7,000-5,000 BC), but the most outstanding
features of the site were constructed during the early, middle and late
Bronze Ages (5,000-2,000 BC). Inscriptions found within the
excavation go back as far as the Neolithic period, and a sophisticated
pictograph form of writing was developed as early as 2000-1800
BC. The “Metsamor Inscriptions” have a
Metallurgy - The excavation has uncovered a large metal industry,
including a foundry with 2 kinds of blast furnaces (brick and
in-ground). Metal processing at Metsamor was among the most
sophisticated of its kind at that time: the foundry extracted
processed high-grade gold, copper, several types of bronze, manganese,
zinc, strychnine, mercury and iron."
"The Cayonu settlement which is not far from the city of Diyarbakir has
been unearthed by the expedition teams under the leadership of Cambel,
Braidwood, Mehmet Ozdogan, Wulf Schirmen and it is dated back to
7250-6750 BC. In the middle of the settlement is a center and around it
are monumental, rectangular structures and houses. The foundation of
the structures is stone and above is sun-dried brick. The inhabitants
of Cayonu are the first farmers of Anatolia. They raised sheep and
goat, and domesticated dog. The woman figurines among the finds
discovered are the earliest traces of the Mother Goddess cult."
If you try
to find this site using Google Maps or Google Earth you will not be
directed to the correct location. In fact both of those locations have
differing references as to where Çayönü
is located which is too far north for both. The above map is
correct and the actual dig is at the top which
has a small stream flowing through it and not
at the center which is Sesverenpinar.
"Jarmo is an archeological site located in northern
on the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. For a long time it was known
as the oldest known agricultural community in the world, dating back to
7000 BC. It is also one of the oldest Neolithic village sites to be
excavated. The Jarmo archeological site was one of the first means of
documentation for the way of life of civilization's first farmers and
reaped their grain with stone sickles, stored their food in stone
bowls, and possessed domesticated goats, sheep, and dogs. They also
grew emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, and lentils. In addition to their
agriculture, they also foraged for wild plants such as the field pea,
acorns, pistachio nuts, and wild wheat. The later levels of settlement
contained evidence of domesticated pigs and clay pottery. Since many of
their tools were made of obsidian from beds 300 miles away, a primitive
form of commerce must have existed. Bone tools, especially awls, were
abundant from the site. Carefully made bone spoons and beads were also
"Mehrgarh is a Neolithic
(7000-3200 BC) site
on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, Pakistan, and one of the earliest
sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle,
sheep and goats) in south Asia. The site is located on the principal
route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
A number of terracotta figurines have been found from
Mehrgarh dating from the fourth millennium BCE. These represent the
earliest forms of female imagery (formerly believed to represent the
'mother goddess') found in the subcontinent (Elgood, p.331).
If you go looking for this site you will find it
the Google markers are too far north. This map is correct but even at a
higher resolution the detail is not apparent. It could be that this
image is too early in the archaeological process or there is not enough
detail to see from satellite.
period 6500–5500 B.C., a farming
society emerged in northern Mesopotamia and Syria which shared a common
culture and produced pottery that is among the finest ever made in the
Near East. This culture is known as Halaf, after
the site of Tell Halaf in northeastern Syria where it was first
identified. The Halaf potters used different sources of clay from their
neighbors and achieved outstanding elaboration and elegance of design
with their superior quality ware. Some of the most beautifully painted
polychrome ceramics were produced toward the end of the Halaf period.
This distinctive pottery has been found from southeastern Turkey to
Iran, but may have its origins in the region of the River Khabur
(modern Syria). How and why it spread so widely is a matter of
continuing debate, although analysis of the clay indicates the
existence of production centers and regional copying. It is possible
that such high-quality pottery was exchanged as a prestige item between
local elites. The Halaf culture also produced a great variety of
amulets and stamp seals of geometric design, as well as a range of
largely female terracotta figurines that often emphasize the sexual
features. Among the best-known Halaf sites are Arpachiyah, Sabi Abyad,
and Yarim Tepe, small agricultural villages with distinctive buildings
known as tholoi. These rounded domed structures, with or without
antechambers, were made of different materials depending on what was
available locally: limestone boulders or mud and straw. The Halaf
culture was eventually absorbed into the so-called Ubaid culture, with
changes in pottery and building styles."
"The best preserved early village so far uncovered
[is] by Catal Huyuk in southern Turkey, excavated
in 1961. The large, 32-acre site, first occupied shortly before 6000
B.C., contains some of the most advanced features of Neolithic culture:
pottery, woven textiles, mud brick houses, shrines honoring a mother
goddess, and plastered walls decorated with murals and carved reliefs.
It is generally thought that because of their earlier role as gatherers
of wild foods, women were responsible for the invention of agriculture.
As long as the ground was prepared by hoeing rather than by plowing,
women remained the cultivators. They also invented and performed the
making of pots from clay, and the spinning and weaving of textiles from
cultivated flax and animal wool."
"The most developed examples of the Neolithic
culture in Anatolia have been found in Catalhoyuk,
the foundation of which dates back to 6500 BC. Great technological
developments are observed in the working of obsidian and flint used for
making tools in Catalhoyuk which was an urban settlement center and
where there is also proof of foreign trade with neighboring countries."
"Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the world's oldest city in
a remote part of Syria. Dating back to 6,000BC, the discovery is 2,500
years older than any known site and will prompt a dramatic reappraisal
of ancient history. The huge settlement, called Hamoukar,
is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, an area known
throughout ancient history as northern Mesopotamia. The city spread
over 750 acres and is believed to have been home to up to 25,000 people.
The discoveries will prompt a re-think of how mankind developed in the
"cradle of civilisation" between the two great Middle Eastern rivers,
the Euphrates and the Tigris. It was here that Babylon and Mesopotamia
were established and the oldest known civilisation, the Sumerians, were
identified to have lived around 3500BC. But Hamoukar is thought to have
been constructed between 6000BC and 4000BC.
At his office at the Museum of Raqqa, 300 miles north-east of the
Syrian capital Damascus, Dr Maktash said the discovery would challenge
conventional notions of the development of civilisation. "Hamoukar is
at least 1,000 years older than Sumeria," he said. "But we don't know
who the people were who lived at Hamoukar. If they were here first the
big question is: where did the Sumerian civilisation come from - from
nothing? It's possible they came from Hamoukar. This will change many
things in our understanding of history." McGuire Gibson, professor of
Chicago University's Oriental Institute, said: "We need to reconsider
our ideas about the beginnings of civilisation, pushing the time
further back. This would mean that the development of kingdoms or early
states occurred before writing was invented." "
Hassuna is a Neolithic site found in the Assyrian region, located 22
miles south of Mosul in modern Iraq. In its prime, Tel Hassuna may have
been surrounded by a stream on three sides. It is one of the earliest
Mesopotamian sites, which dates back to late 7th millennium to late 6th
millennium BCE, and is the type site for the Hassuna culture. These
people, who used chipped stone hoes, represent some of the earliest
farmers in northern Mesopotamia. There is evidence for the
domestication of animals such as sheep, goats, and pigs. Hassuna
inhabitants lived in houses made of tauf, or packed mud, surrounding
open courtyards. In the central area of the site, the buildings were
larger in size and seemed to have specific purposes other than housing
inhabitants. Some material remains uncovered from previous excavations
have included ovens used for baking, pots for grain storage possibly
lined with bitumen or gypsum plaster to keep out moisture, and grinding
stones to process grains such as emmer and barely. The pottery found at
the site is called Hassuna pottery and is characterized by red slip on
cream-colored clay. Herring-bone lines decorate the pottery. Stamp
seals, which may have been used for indication of contents or
ownership, usually accompany the pottery. There is evidence of
turquoise in Hassuna, which would have been imported, and is an unusual
find at early sites in Iraq. Other pottery included grey-burnished
pieces which were probably attained through trade. At earlier levels
there is a considerable amount of stone objects, flint, and obsidian.
Beads, pendants, and other small pieces of jewelry have also been
found. Evidence found at Tel Hassuna excavations indicates a reverence
for the afterlife. A dozen pottery-jar infant burials have been found
alongside more jars containing food and drink meant to sustain the
child in the afterlife. Small figurines of a "mother-goddess" form made
from reddish clay have been found. One figurine had a headdress created
for her, molded from a type of green clay."
Tell Hassuna people had a neolithic culture in northern Mesopotamia.
Their culture flourished about 6000-5250 B.C. We do not know what these
people called themselves, so Tell Hassuna is a name given as a matter
of convenience. They had no form of writing, so we do not know what
their language was like.
The Tell Hassuna people had a settled lifestyle. Their communities
varied in size; the maximum population of their towns was about 500.
Most were small villages that covered areas of 2-8 acres. The houses
were rectangular and most had more than one room. Mudbrick formed the
composition of most of the buildings. Residences typically had yards
with walls around them. The residents did much of their cooking in
outdoor ovens. However, there were also some indoor ovens with
chimneys. Floors were plastered and niches in walls were used for
Farming provided much of the food. The Tell Hassuna people raised
barley and wheat. They also did a considerable amount of hunting. The
game that they hunted included onagers (wild donkeys) and gazelles. It
is obvious that they did not domesticate donkeys or horses.
Archaeologists have excavated several sites of this culture. Tell
Hassuna is the largest community. It had some large central buildings
that were divided into small square rooms. These structures had dirt
floors and no hearths. The evidence indicates that they were used for
storage. An archaeological team found 2,400 clay objects that are
thought to have been projectiles propelled by slings. There were also
about 100 large balls made of baked clay; these items may have been
used as weapons.
The inhabitants of the Tell Hassuna towns used stamp seals to make
images on clay. They created an enormous amount of pottery. Alabaster
and terracotta were commonly used for making pottery. Red paint was
used to make linear designs on the pots, bowls, and goblets. Banded
designs were common; the stripes were horizontal on some vessels and
vertical on others.
Many statuettes were created by the Tell Hassuna people. These
figurines were often made of alabaster or terracotta. The small
sculptures frequently represented female figures.
I learned a considerable amount of information about the Tell Hassuna
culture during my time as a graduate student at the University of
Texas. The Tell Hassuna people were of the stone age, but were quite
advanced for that time frame."
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"An understanding of the rise of complex
cultures in southwest Asia should begin with the Ubaid Period which
falls chronologically between the origins of agriculture and the rise
of urbanism. During the Ubaid a new social order was evolving in
southern Mesopotamia and the Susiana Plain (Elam) of SW Iran out of
which emerged complex societies with a centralized state structure.
During the fifth millennium BC Ubaid culture spread northward up the
Tigris-Euphrates drainage as far west as Cilicia and the Amuq. This
foreshadows a similar expansion of what has been interpreted as Uruk
trading colonies or enclaves established to obtain essential raw
materials lacking in the alluvial plain .....PreHistoric Ubaid Culture
Tell (mound) of Ubaid near Ur in southern Iraq has
given its name to the prehistoric culture which represents the earliest
settlement on the alluvial plain of south Mesopotamia. The Ubaid
culture has a long duration beginning before 5000 BC and lasting until
the beginning of the Uruk Period. In the mid 5th millennium BC the
Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia replacing the Halaf
Culture. The Ubaid culture is characterized by large village
settlements and the appearance of the first temples in Mesopotamia.
Equipment includes a buff or greenish coloured 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 for tools ....."
period 5500–4000 B.C., much of Mesopotamia shared a common
culture, called Ubaid after the site where evidence for it was first
found. Characterized by a distinctive type of pottery, this culture
originated on the flat alluvial plains of southern Mesopotamia (ancient
Iraq) around 6200 B.C. Indeed, it was during this period that the first
identifiable villages developed in the region, where people farmed the
land using irrigation and fished the rivers and sea (Persian Gulf).
Thick layers of alluvial silt deposited every spring by the flooding
rivers cover many of these sites. Some villages began to develop into
towns and became focused on monumental buildings, such as at Eridu and
Uruk. The Ubaid culture spread north across Mesopotamia, gradually
replacing the Halaf culture. Ubaid pottery is also found to the south,
along the west coast of the Persian Gulf, perhaps transported there by
fishing expeditions. Baked clay figurines, mainly female, decorated
with painted or appliqué ornament and lizardlike heads, have
been found at a number of Ubaid sites. Simple clay tokens may have been
used for the symbolic representation of commodities, and pendants and
stamp seals may have had a similar symbolism, if not function. During
this period, the repertory of seal designs expands to include snakes,
birds, and animals with humans. There is much continuity between the
Ubaid culture and the succeeding Uruk period, when many of the earlier
traditions were elaborated, particularly in architecture.
Stamp seal with animal and bird, 6th–5th millennium B.C.;
Ubaid period Syria or Anatolia.
Stamp seal, 6th millennium B.C.; Halaf period Syro/Cilicia
The impressing of carved stones into clay to seal containers had a long
tradition in Mesopotamia, with the earliest evidence found in Syria
dating to the seventh millennium B.C. During the Ubaid period, the
variety of designs carved on seals expanded from simple geometric forms
to include animals with humans, snakes, and birds. Seals like this one
with deeply carved animal motifs became characteristic of northern
Syria and southeastern Anatolia. It is decorated with a four-legged
horned animal. Above the animal is a leaf shape, possibly a stylized
bird, while two bent lines under its body may represent vegetation or
the 6th and 5th millennium BC the peoples of Ubaid Mesopotamia and the
Arabian Neolithic met and interacted. This was first realised during
the 1960's and 1970's, when numerous sites were identified in the
Central Gulf region which contained pottery in the Ubaid
These were mostly coastal, and were mainly found in the northeastern
province of Saudi Arabia, though sites were also identified in Bahrain
and Qatar. The majority were small and ephemeral, but a handful were
large, with deep deposits and abundant pottery.
Abdullah Masry studied these sites (Masry 1974), and excavated three of
the most promising ones (Abu Khamis, Dosariyah and Ain Qannas).
Excavations also occurred at smaller Ubaid sites in Bahrain and Qatar
(Roaf 1976; de Cardi 1978). Masry concluded that this part of Arabia
had enjoyed a close and integral relationship with Southern
Mesopotamia. More controversially, he suggested that the Mesopotamian
and Ubaid-related Arabian sites should be regarded as part of the same
social and economic system, and that the origins of Mesopotamian
civilization lie as much in the Arabian Peninsula as in Mesopotamia.
Meanwhile, Joan Oates and her collaborators proved through petrographic
and compositional analysis that the Ubaid-style painted pottery from
the Gulf states originated in Southern Mesopotamia (Oates et al. 1977).
She had a simpler explanation than Masry, suggesting that Ubaid
visitors travelled down the Gulf in search of fish and perhaps pearls,
trading their pottery with local communities along the way."
three phases of excavations, the head of the team Roman Ghirshman
published a book that amazed the academic society of the time.
According to Ghirshman, sialk was the place where man first used a form
of mortar in construction. It is also the first place where
cloth-weaving, spooling and casting were invented. Evidence suggests
that the site was not only the starting point of Persian civilization
but also the first place where religious thought took form. Further
studies by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization revealed that sialk
was as old as 7000 to 9000 years. Settlers first inhabited the region
somewhere around 5500 B.C. - 6000 B.C., drawn to the region due to the
abundant water supply provided by what is known today as Cheshmeh ye
Soleiman (or 'Solomon's Spring').
the present archaeological site covered by mudbrick ruins is vast, the
site of Samarra was only lightly occupied in ancient times, apart from
the Chalcolithic Samarran Culture (ca 5500–4800 BC)
the rich site of Tell
where evidence of irrigation—including flax—
the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized
social structure. The culture is primarily known by its finely-made
pottery decorated against dark-fired backgrounds with stylized figures
of animals and birds and geometric designs. This widely-exported type
of pottery, one of the first widespread, relatively uniform pottery
styles in the Ancient Near East, was first recognized at Samarra. The
Samarran Culture was the precursor to the Mesopotamian culture of the
is now one of the largest
archaeological sites in the world."
"Archaeologists have found five levels of occupation at Tell es-Sawwan.
The first two are designated as I and II; they are generally thought to
be of the Tell Hassuna culture. These levels have a tripartite building
plan. These tripartite buildings were made around a central room. It
was divided into three parts and a corridor bordered it on each side.
The areas were further subdivided into chambers. Some children's graves
have been discovered in the floors. A number of goods were found with
the remains of the children. These burial items consisted of pottery
and figurines made of alabaster.
Radiocarbon dating was made from a floor sample of level I; it was
dated to 5506+73 B.C. A similar date (also taken from a floor) was
given for Level II.
In Level III the architecture has a different pattern. Level IIIA has
T-shaped buildings with fortification features. These include walls,
ramparts, and ditches. In Level IIIB the buildings are converted into
granaries. The radiocarbon dating was made from a floor and is 5349+86
B.C. This level is dated to the Samarra period. [Note - The Samarra
time frame is 5500-500 B.C.] I should mention that not all of the
pottery of Level III is Samarra; some of it is Hassuna. Levels IV and V
are also dated to the Samarra.
A major change is apparent in Level IV. The fortifications are no
longer used. Level V has been dated to the Halaf period."
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was fortified early today in Iraq, 110 km northwest of Badgadista
fairly close to Samarraa. Place is located in northern and central
Mesopotamia frontier rain-growing border, south of .
settlement was the central Mesopotamia, the Tigris river,
archaeologists running of perhaps about 6300-6100 BC , Whose
inhabitants lived kasteluviljelyllä and store grain. Clay
and copper machining, cold, perhaps you know. Miniature judging
palvottiin men and women on fertility liiittyen so later than the
Middle East and elsewhere. Tel es-Sawwanin village joined the broader
Samarran culture, which is considered to be the Middle East
sivilisaatiokehityksen pre-operational phase. sawwan located in the
cultural area of the southern border."
(http://fi.wikipedium.org/wiki/Tell_es-Sawwan - Translated)
Eridu - The First Known Sumerian City
After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship
was in Eridu
"I chose the archeological site Eridu, now known as modern Abu Shah
Rain. Eridu is 196 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. It was the
earliest known city of Sumer (Southern Mesopotamia).There are also an
important group of temples in Eridu (Britannica, 1999)
Eridu was located by the mound called Abu
Shayhrayan. This was one of the most important prehistoric urban
centers in southern Babylonia. It was built on sand dunes probably in
the fifth millennium B.C. It completely showed the sequence of the
preliterate Ubaid civilization. Eridu had a long succession of super
imposed temples portraying the growth and development of intricate mud
brick architecture (Britannica, 1999).
The apparent continuity of occupation and
religious observance at Eridu provide convincing evidence for the
indigenous origin of Sumerian civilization [emphasis added].
The site was excavated between 1946 and 1949 by the Iraq Antiquities
Department (McDonald) The city continued to be occupied until 600 B.C.
but was less important in historic periods."
map as on the previous page First Legend Maps
famous cities now lost: Dilmun, Akkade and Aratta
Nephilim and Rephaim Back to Intro