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Rise of the State in Mesopotamia.docx

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Western University
Anthropology 2100
Peter Timmins

Jan, 14, 2013 Rise of the State in Mesopotamia The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers: -Most early civilizations are the result of a great river -Annual flooding re-fertilized the floodplain but could also be destructive and Southern Mesopotamia is very dry making irrigation necessary for agriculture and the rivers also were an important transportation route and a source of protein from fish -The course of the rivers shifted over time and many sites are now in desert-like areas and accumulation of salt in the soil (salination) has made the region infertile today Late Neolithic Upland Cultures in Southwest Asia: -Hassunan (9000-8000 BP) is found in Northern Mesopotamia and included small agricultural villages that made coarse pottery with painted or incised lines -Samarran (ca. 8000 BP) lived in the southern part of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys and they made glossy painted pottery, used simple irrigation techniques and sites include Choga Mami (a 6 ha village est. 1000 people) and Tell as-Sawwan (surrounded by ditch and wall) and there were more burials with grave offerings than other contemporary sites (may point to emerging social ranking) -Halafian (ca. 8000 BP) were in northern Mesopotamia on the upper Tigris and Euphrates river valleys and they made painted pottery in matte colours (in contrast to glossy Samarran pottery) and they lived in small agricultural villages and there is evidence of widespread trade in ceramics ‘Ubaid Culture – 7800-6000 BP: -Located in the delta region of the Tigris and Euphrates and they spread north to modern day Syria by 6000 BP and the earliest site Tell al ‘Ouelli (7800 BP) has small villages surrounding large towns (ceremonial centres) and distinctive well made pottery made on a tournette or a hand-turned wheel -Eridu from 6750 BP has the remains of seven temples in stratigraphic sequence and the site housed 5000 people by 6500 BP Development of the Temple: -Appears during the ‘Ubaid spread over SW Asia and it was built on platforms of mud brick or stone and it had a large room with a platform/offering table and an alter-like structure, surrounded by smaller rooms and offerings involved sharing a meal with the gods Uruk Culture – 6000-5200 BP: -Uruk is one of the oldest cities in the world and it had 10,000 people by 5800 BP and by 4800 BP it covered 250 ha (617 acres; 2.5 square km) and housed 40,000 people -There were several satellite villages within 10 km radius each with its own irrigation system and they had a massive temple (ziggurat) in centre of city -There were three levels of administrative hierarchy and there was occupational and class differentiation reflected in residential architecture and burials The Development of Writing – Ca 5400 BP: -Clay tokens sometimes enclosed in bullae (ceramic “envelopes”) were from early Uruk times and there were small clay tablets with symbols and seal markings developed by late Uruk times Temples and Ziggurats: -Were made as a tribute to the gods and as an object of civic pride and by helping build the ziggurat people became economically, socially and spiritually integrated within the community and complexes included workshops and food storage areas Sumerian Civilization – Early Dynastic 5200-4350 BP: -Had at least 30 indep
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