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SCHOOL OF PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE, NEW DELHI

INDIA AND THE


MIDDLE EAST
RESEARCH PAPER

THEOTY OF SETTLEMENTS

AMRI CHADHA | BHAVIKA AGGARWAL | VARUN BAJAJ


INDIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
SCHOOL OF PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE, NEW DELHI

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................3
AFRICA, THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY.........................................................................................3
HUMANITY’S FIRST MIGRANTS: LOWER PALEOLITHIC (2,700,000 – 200,000 BC)................3
THE OLDOWAN ERA (2,580,000 – 1,500,000 BC)........................................................................4
ACHEULEAN TRADITION (1,400,000 – 100,000 BC)..................................................................4
SHELTER: CAVES...........................................................................................................................5
NEANDERTHALS: THE BIRTH OF HUMAN CULTURE: MIDDLE PALEOLITHIC (200,000 –
30,000 BC)............................................................................................................................................6
MOUSTARIAN INDUSTRY (2,00,000-40,000 BC)........................................................................6
SHELTER: THE FIRST HUMAN HOUSES....................................................................................7
TENTS...........................................................................................................................................7
PIT HOUSES.................................................................................................................................7
HOMO SAPIENS..................................................................................................................................8
THE GREAT MIGRATION..............................................................................................................8
THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD......................................................................................................8
LIFE IN THE NOMADIC STATE: UPPER PALEOLITHIC (40,000 – 12,000 BC)...........................9
SHELTER: COMMUNITY LIVING................................................................................................9
ARTIFICIAL SELECTION: MESOLITHIC AGE (12,000 – 5000 BC)...............................................9
EXPERIMENTS WITH FARMING: THE NATUFIANS.................................................................9
DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS................................................................................................10
END OF YOUNGER DRYAS........................................................................................................10
SETTLING DOWN.............................................................................................................................11
FROM FARMS TO CITIES: NEOLITHIC AGE (9500 – 3300 BC)...............................................11
POST-MESOLITHIC/ PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC.................................................................12
POTTERY NEOLITHIC..............................................................................................................14
THE DAWN OF METAL: CHALCOLITHIC AGE (4500 – 3300 BC)..............................................17
CHALCOLITHIC AGE IN INDIA..................................................................................................17
CHALCOLITHIC AGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST..........................................................................18
ON THE VERGE OF HISTORY: THE BRONZE AGE (3300 – 1200 BC).......................................19
BRONZE AGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.......................................................................................20
CONCLUSION...................................................................................................................................25
BIBLIOGRAPHY...............................................................................................................................26
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INTRODUCTION
The lands around the southern and eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea are often called the
Middle East or the Near East. The term came from the first geographers in ancient Greece,
for whom the region was both near and east.()

In most current usage, the term Middle East refers collectively to Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Israel,
Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, and the states and emirates
along the southern and eastern fringes of the Arabian Peninsula, namely, Bahrain, Oman,
Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

The ancient Near East is considered the cradle of civilization. It was the first to practice
intensive year-round agriculture, it gave the rest of the world the first writing system,
invented the potter's wheel and then the vehicular- and mill wheel, created the first
centralized governments, law codes and empires, as well as introducing social stratification,
slavery and organized warfare, and it laid the foundation for the fields of astronomy and
mathematics.()

AFRICA, THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY


Most African people today are desperately poor and suffering, thousands try to escape the
continent every year, many of them across the Straits of Gibralter into Europe. History is
repeating itself.

By about two million years ago the homo habilis1 had evolved into a new species, the homo
erectus2, who largely resembled the modern homo sapiens. Bones of the earliest homo
erectus, ‘Turkana Boy’, dating back to some 1.8 million years ago, were discovered in an
African swamp near the shores of Lake Tyrkana in Kenya.()

The homo erectus could walk upright, had a much bigger brain than the habilis, and had
several key advantages over anything else in the wild: his hands, his brain, and, perhaps most
important of all, his control of fire. With their portable tool kits, the protection of their
communities and the magic of fire, they were the first human species to explore life outside
Africa.

HUMANITY’S FIRST MIGRANTS: LOWER PALEOLITHIC (2,700,000


– 200,000 BC)
Early humans walked their way around the habitable continents of Africa, Asia and Europe.
But just as the homo erectus started populating Asia, the climate turned colder and another
Ice Age began. Even fire wasn’t enough to battle the bitterly cold temperatures in much of
Asia and Europe which lasted for thousands of years at a time.

1 Homo habilis (“handy man”) was an extinct species of hominid that lived in Africa between 2.2 and 1.5
million years ago.()

2 Homo erectus (“upright man”) is an extinct species of hominid that ranged widely over Africa and Asia and
flourished from about 1.6 million years ago until about 200,000 years ago. Homo erectus was the first hominid
to expand out of Africa and into cooler parts of the world.()

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This led to the evolution of a different human species all together, the Neanderthal. The
oldest date back to about 350,000 years ago, which means that several species of humans
lived simultaneously. Around this time, at least five different species coexisted: homo
erectus, homo ergaster3, homo neanderthalensis, homo heidelbergensis4 and homo
rhodesiensis5.()

What is clear is that once the homo erectus migrated out of about 1.7 million years ago,
several different species of humans evolved in different parts of the world, and that
geographical and climatic differences caused small but significant evolutionary changes.()

THE OLDOWAN ERA (2,580,000 – 1,500,000 BC)


The Oldowan6 era is the earliest formally recognized cultural tradition of the Lower
Paleolithic and Oldowan tools are the oldest known, appearing first in the Gona and Omo
Basins in Ethiopia. They are associated with Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, who
primarily gathered fruits and vegetables and scavenged medium and large size game.
Possibly, like chimpanzees, they also occasionally killed small game to supplement their diet.

Oldowan tools likely came at the end of a long period of opportunistic tool usage:
chimpanzees today use rocks, branches, leaves and twigs as tools. The key innovation is the
technique of chipping stones to create a chopping or cutting edge. Most Oldowan tools were
made by a single blow of one rock against another to create a sharp-edged flake.

Flakes7 were used as cutters, probably to dismember game carcasses or to strip tough plants.
Stones were also used to break open marrow cavities. And Oldowan deposits include pieces
of bone or horn showing scratch marks that indicate they were used as diggers to unearth
tubers or insects.

Oldowan sites existed simultaneously in Yiron8 (Israel), Kashafrud9 (Iran), Erq-al-Ehmar


(Israel), Ubeidya (Israel) and Riwat10 (Pakistan).

ACHEULEAN TRADITION (1,400,000 – 100,000 BC)

3 The African form of erectus.

4 Homo heidelbergensis is an extinct species of hominid that lived from about 500,000 to about 150,000 years
ago characterized by having a larger brain than that of Homo erectus.()

5 A primitive hominid resembling Neanderthal man but living in Africa.()

6 Named after the Olduvai Gorge site in northern Tanzania.

7 A small, flat, thin piece, esp. one that has been or become detached from a larger piece or mass.()

8 The oldest occurrence of Oldawan art is in Yiron.

9 Kashafrud Basin provides evidence of the oldest-known human occupation of Iran.

10 The early human colonization of south Asia is represented by stone tool assemblages in the Siwalik Hills at
Riwat.

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The Acheulean11 tradition originated in Sub-Saharan Africa, and early forms of Homo spread
the culture out of Africa into the near east, southern and western Europe. They continued
with large, medium and small game hunting, scavenging and gathering.

By 500,000 years ago the Acheulean methods had penetrated into Europe, primarily
associated with Homo heidelbergensis, where they continued until about 200,000 years ago.
The industry spread as far as the Near East and India, but apparently never reached east Asia,
where Homo erectus continued to use Oldowan tools right up to the time that species went
extinct.

The tradition is characterized by bifaces i.e. large bifacially flaked stone tools, such as hand
axes, cleavers and picks. The most common tool materials were quartzite, glassy lava, chert
and flint. Making an Acheulean tool required both strength and skill.

The key innovations were

• chipping the stone from both sides to produce a symmetrical (bifacial) cutting edge
• the shaping of an entire stone into a recognizable and repeated tool form
• variation in the tool forms for different tool uses.

Acheulean tools show a regularity of design and manufacture that is maintained for over a
million years. This is clear evidence of specialized skills and design criteria that were handed
down by explicit socialization within a geographically dispersed human culture.()

SHELTER: CAVES
Throughout the Lower Palaeolithic, early humans lived mostly in flimsy camps, traces of
which are found primarily in open-air sites and river terraces, though some caves were also
occupied. In the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic cave-mouths and rock-shelters were far more
intensively and extensively used, but people also continued to live in open-air settlements.

Caves are natural shelters, offering shade and protection from predators and the elements.
Wherever caves were available, prehistoric nomadic hunter-gatherers incorporated them into
the yearly cycle of seasonal camps. Most of their activities took place around campfires at the
cave mouth, and some caves contain stone walls and pavements providing additional
protection from winds and damp. Hunting, particularly of reindeer, horse, red deer, and bison,
was important; many caves are situated on valley slopes providing views of routes important
in migration of animals.()

UBEIDIYA, ISRAEL
Ubeidiya is an early paleolithic archaeological site located in the Jordan Valley of Israel, and
is one of the oldest hominid sites outside of Africa. Bones found at the site include extinct
species of hippopotamus, deer and molluscs; hominid teeth were found at the site,
unidentifiable to species.

The site consists of several identified 'living floors' of concentrations of Acheulean tools such
as handaxes, picks, and bifaces, and pebble-core tools and flake-tools. Homo

11 The Acheulean Tradition gets its name from the site of St. Acheul, France.

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erectus populations effortlessly shifted their stone tool technology between the production of
large cutting tools (picks, handaxes, cleavers, etc.) and pebble-core reduction.

HOLON, ISRAEL
Excavations at the open-air site of Holon, Israel, have provided a unique perspective on
hominin behavior, technology, and subsistence strategies in the Middle East. Late Acheulian
tools found use trifacial reduction method. The flakes were not derived from hand axes but
rather from core reductions.

TABUN CAVE, ISRAEL


The Tabun Cave features one of the longest sequences of human occupation in the
Levant.The cave dwellers of that time used handaxes of flint or limestone for killing animals
(gazelle, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and wild cattle) and for digging out plant roots. Over
time, the handaxes became smaller and better shaped, and scrapers made of flint were
probably used for scraping meat off bones and for processing animal skins.

The large number of fallow deer bones found in the upper layers of the Tabun Cave may be
due to the chimney-like opening in the back of the cave which functioned as a natural trap.
The animals may have been herded towards it, and fell into the cave where they were
butchered.

ANATOLIA
Traces of human existence found in Anatolia date back to approximately 2 million years ago.
Among the main sites in Anatolia are Yarimburgaz, near Istanbul, which humans (homo-
erectus) occupied from 800,000 BC, and the Karain and Belbaşi caves. Among the finds at
the caves are carved stone and bone tools, moveable art objects, remains of the bones and
teeth of Homo Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens, burnt and unburned animal and bread fossils.

ACHEULIAN IN INDIA
Acheulian tools in India compare well with the early Acheulian from other parts of the world.
The large cutting tools (especially cleavers but also hand axes) are mostly based on the
production of large flakes.

Major sites are in Maharashtra (Nevasa, Bori), Karnataka(Isampur, Sadab), Rajasthan


(Didwana) and Gujarat (Adi Chadi Wao, Umrethi). Bhimbetka Caves in Madhya Pradesh are
another famous example.

NEANDERTHALS: THE BIRTH OF HUMAN CULTURE: MIDDLE


PALEOLITHIC (200,000 – 30,000 BC)
Neanderthals, contrary to general opinion, had brains slightly bigger than the modern
human’s and walked upright, though they were shorter and more hairy. Their broad noses and
jutting foreheads were examples of the adaptations that helped reduce their surface area, and
thus conserve heat in the Ice Ages.()

MOUSTARIAN INDUSTRY (2,00,000-40,000 BC)

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Mousterian12 describes a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry).

The Mousterian industry appeared in much the same areas of unglaciated Europe, the Near
East and Africa where Acheulean tools appear. In Europe these tools are most closely
associated with Homo neanderthalensis, but elsewhere were made by both Neanderthals and
early Homo sapiens.

The Neanderthals were highly skilled at using tools, and their hands were at least as nimble
as ours. Hundreds of sharp, skillfully crafted stone tools were found alongside their bones,
including small hand axes, flake tools probably used as knives and toothed instruments
produced by making notches in a flake, perhaps used as saws or shaft straighteners. Wooden
spears were used to hunt large game such as mammoth and wooly rhinoceros. Scrapers
appear for the dressing of animal hides, which were probably used for shoes, clothing,
bedding, shelter, and carrying sacks.

By this time the entire process had standardized into explicit stages (basic core stone, rough
blank, refined final tool). Because tools were combined with other components (handles,
spear shafts) and used in wider applications (dressing hides, hunting large game), this
technology led to manufacturing activities in other materials. Mousterian tool making
procedures made possible the accumulation of physical comforts which imply social
organization and stability.

They are the first people known to have buried their dead, often leaving ornaments in the
graves. This implies that they almost certainly had beliefs, perhaps religious, and maybe even
developed societies.

SHELTER: THE FIRST HUMAN HOUSES


In the Lower Palaeolithic, simple windbreaks or crude huts were erected, but by the Upper
Palaeolithic there is evidence for light tents sophisticated huts made of hundreds of animal
bones. Stone tools thus also helped them build impressive shelters- the first human houses.

TENTS
They used tent like shelters made from branches, animal skins and bones. Even in the depths
of winter, the tents were snug, their sides buried in the frozen earth and weighted down to
prevent them tearing in the icy winds.()

PIT HOUSES
Many dug pits and covered them with branches, animal skins, and leaves. These structures
are one of the most ancient types of human housing known to archeologists. Dugouts can be
fully recessed into the earth, with a flat roof covered by ground, or dug into a hillside. They
can also be semi-recessed, with a constructed wood or sod13 roof standing out.

MOUSTARIAN SITES IN INDIA

12 Named after the site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in France.

13 Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots.

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The number of Mousterian sites in India are few. In general, however, the middle Palaeolithic
populations occupied the same regions and habitats as the preceding Acheulian populations.
Examples are Didwana, Rajasthan and Hathnora and Amnapur, Madhya Pradesh.

MOUSTARIAN SITES IN THE MIDDLE EAST


A dozen or so remains found in the Qafzeh Cave, Israel are the oldest specimens of modern
humans in the Near East.

Kebara Cave is an Israeli limestone cave locality of the Wadi Kebara. A throat bone called
the hyoid, needed for speech, was found in the Neanderthal remains in the cave. This points
at the fact that they could speak, but did not have an effective communicative language,
which eventually led to their downfall.

The cave site of Shanidar is located in the Zagros Mountains of Kurdistan in Iraq. The site
provides evidence that the Neanderthals buried their dead, and were ritualistic as well.

HOMO SAPIENS
Homo Sapiens are the descendents of homo erectus, not homo neanderthalis, and thus
emerged out of Africa. The oldest homo sapiens fossils yet found come from Ethiopia.

THE GREAT MIGRATION


It was probably a warm interglacial interlude within the Ice Age between about 130,000 and
90,000 years ago, that initially triggered large scale homo sapiens migration across Africa.

About 60,000 years ago homo sapiens swept across Asia, displacing the last of the
Neanderthals either by depriving them of food, hunting them or maybe occasionally
absorbing them into their own species. The first homo sapiens to arrive in Europe walked
eastward out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, and then came north via the Middle East.()

THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD


The time from about 50,000 years ago has been described as the ‘Great Leap Forward’.
Advocates of this theory argue that humans who lived before this time were behaviorally
primitive and indistinguishable from other extinct hominids. The Great Leap Forward was
concurrent with the extinction of the Neanderthals.

They base their evidence on the fact that the complexity of human tools increased
dramatically. Bones, tusks and antlers were used for the first time to carve out ornaments as
well as to craft useful household items such as needles. The first real jewelry and ceramic
pots date from this period, as do the world’s first known sculptures. ()

According to them, humans of the Acheulean and Mousterian cultures lived in an apparent
stasis, experiencing little cultural change. This was followed by a sudden flowering of fine
toolmaking, sophisticated weaponry, sculpture, cave painting, body ornaments, and long-
distance trade.

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LIFE IN THE NOMADIC STATE: UPPER PALEOLITHIC (40,000 –


12,000 BC)
Throughout the Palaeolithic, humans were hunters, fishers, and gatherers; the early humans
(Australopithecus, Homo habilis, and Homo erectus) were probably scavengers rather than
hunters. It thus marked the beginnings of communal hunting and extensive fishing, and the
first conclusive evidence of belief systems centering on magic and the supernatural come
from this time.

Sewn clothing was worn, and sculpture and painting originated. Tools were of great variety,
including flint and obsidian blades and projectile points.

Living as travelers meant that these people had few if any possessions. They had no need for
anything but the essential provisions, such as water inside gourds14.

SHELTER: COMMUNITY LIVING


These people hunted and gathered whatever and whenever they needed. There was no need
for storage areas or farm buildings. They set up camp at a particular place - characteristic of
the period were hunting and fishing settlements along rivers and on lake shores, where fish
and molluscs15 were abundant- and when the land was void of fruit and meat they would
move on elsewhere, giving the earth a chance to restore, recover and renew.

UPPER PALEOLITHIC SITES IN INDIA


Due to arid climate and sparse vegetation, human populations faced restricted food resources
in this period. This explains the limited number of upper Palaeolithic sites in the arid and
semi-arid regions. However, excellent archaeological evidence of this period comes from the
Belan and Son valleys in the northern Vindhyas, Chota Nagpur plateau in Bihar, upland
Maharashtra, Orissa and from the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh.

ARTIFICIAL SELECTION: MESOLITHIC AGE (12,000 – 5000 BC)


About 12,000 years ago, when humans first started to cultivate land and tame wild animals,
they ‘hijacked’ the process of natural selection16. Instead of nature selecting the most
successful specimens in the wild, humans started to choose, breed, protect and grow those
that suited them best.

EXPERIMENTS WITH FARMING: THE NATUFIANS


Compared to the easy life of the hunter, where one decent kill could feed a family for a week,
farming was painful and arduous, even more so because crops could be harvested only at

14 Vegetables belonging to the pumpkin family which can be easily hollowed out to make bottles.

15 Any of numerous chiefly marine invertebrates of the phylum Mollusca, typically having a soft unsegmented
body, a mantle, and a protective calcareous shell and including the edible shellfish and the snails. ()

16 The process by which forms of life having traits that better enable them to adapt to specific environmental
pressures, as predators, changes in climate, or competition for food or mates, will tend to survive and reproduce
in greater numbers than others of their kind, thus ensuring the perpetuation of those favorable traits in
succeeding generations.()

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certain times of the year. Common sense thus suggests that humans didn’t take up farming
because they wanted to, but rather because they needed to.

The most recent Ice Age- which had been at its peak about 22,000 years ago- ended about
14,000 years ago and sea levels rose dramatically. Many traditional hunting grounds simply
sank beneath the water and rich forests were reduced to barren deserts as patterns of weather
and rainfall rapidly changed.

One example of how climate changes forced the people into a new life can be seen in the
Fertile Crescent17, which was a very fertile and rich land 14,000 years ago. At that time the
Natufians settled near the water’s edge around modern day Lebanon. Several Natufian sites
have been discovered and excavated in Lebanon, Syria and northern Israel.

In a freak of nature, instead of temperatures continuing to rise, the climate suddenly plunged
into another Ice Age. This spell, called the Younger Dryas, lasted for about 1,300 years
beginning approximately 12,700 years ago.

For those living in the Fertile Crescent, not only had their hunting grounds been drowning by
rising sea levels, but now a severe drought had also set in.

Wild grasses were already an important part of the Natufian diet. Natufians started
experimenting with sowing seeds themselves and deliberately clearing the land to make it
suitable for cultivating grasses such as wheat, barley and rye. They started storing the best
seeds they could find, the biggest and the easiest to harvest.

Natufian crop cultivation was the earliest known to history. From the location of seed finds, it
seems they planted them on slopes where moisture collected naturally. They then actively
managed these hillside terraces and slopes by keeping the weeds and scrub at bay.()

Modern archaeologists have also discovered farming tools in the form of picks and sickle
blades used for harvesting cereal crops. Alongside these ancient farming implements are
pestles, mortars and bowls, all essential instruments for gathering and grinding seeds.

DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS
Natufians were also among the first known people to have started domesticating animals- in
their case wolves. They bred the wolves into domestic dogs which could help them hunt other
animals such as sheep, boar, goats and horses.

END OF YOUNGER DRYAS


Once the Younger Dryas ended, about 11,400 years ago, the climate recovered and the Fertile
Crescent again had enough rainfall to support rich, diverse vegetation. But now these people
were equipped with new technologies in the form of breeds and seeds that gave them the
opportunity to live in a radically different way of life.

SETTLING DOWN
17 The area that extends from Egypt, Israel and Syria to as far north as central Turkey, and then down towards
the gulf along the Euphrates valley, through Iran and Iraq.

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Artificial selection allowed people to settle- to live permanently in one place- because all the
food they needed could be sourced in one spot. They started to build houses and live in
villages all year round. With the advent of farming came the first sedentary lifestyles, and
with them massive increases in human populations, the re-sculpting of the earth’s landscape
to suit food production and even the beginnings of modern diseases. Hunting and gathering
was now becoming a tradition of the past.

MESOLITHIC MIDDLE EAST


Besides the Natufian culture in the Levant, major Mesolithic settlements were also found in
Anatolia.

MESOLITHIC INDIA
Increased food security during this period led to reduction in nomadism and to seasonally
sedentary settlement. This is reflected in the large size of Mesolithic sites, the marked growth
in human population, and the presence of large cemeteries.

The first human colonization of the Ganga plains took place during this period, as proved by
the presence of more than two hundred archaeological sites in Allahabad, Pratapgarh,
Jaunpur, Mirzapur and Varanasi districts of Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, the effective
colonization of the deltaic region of West Bengal and West Coast, particularly around
Mumbai and in Kerala also took place during this period.

FROM FARMS TO CITIES: NEOLITHIC AGE (9500 – 3300 BC)


From about 9000 BC permanent new human settlements began to appear throughout the
Middle East. The Neolithic18 Age is associated with the beginning of agriculture in a major
way, which implies that people started to settle down permanently in one place, thus giving
rise to the need of proper, functional dwellings. Villages started to emerge only in this era,
due to the sedentary19 lifestyle of the people. Houses using different materials like mud
bricks, started coming up, especially in the Levant region.

The Middle East served as the source for many animals that could be domesticated, such as
goats and pigs. This area was also the first region to domesticate the camel. The presence of
these animals gave the region a large advantage in cultural and economic development. As
the climate in the Middle East changed, and became drier, many of the farmers were forced to
leave, taking their domesticated animals with them.

There were certain changes which the Neolithic age brought about. For instance, the average
human height went down from 5’ 10" for men and 5' 6" for women to 5' 3" and 5' 1". Also,
the population went up drastically, owing to the sedentary lifestyles of the people.

Other developments took place in pottery as well as tool making, towards the later part of the
Neolithic age (4500 BC onwards).

POST-MESOLITHIC/ PRE-POTTERY NEOLITHIC


18 The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution—the transition from hunting and gathering
communities, to agriculture and settlement.()

19 Lack of movement, stationary

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URFA
Sites like Urfa in Anatolia were the first few where a lot of excavated structures have been
found. They include a temple like structure with a lot of symbolism and low-relief sculptures.
T shaped huge monoliths are associated with Urfa. Apparently, they are said to represent
humans as they have limbs etched on them in low-relief.

Also, a basic house module of 2-3 rectangular rooms can be derived from the findings. Use of
dry masonry and sewage systems had started. The houses are characterized by thick, multi-
layered foundations made of large angular cobbles and boulders, the gaps filled with smaller
stones so as to provide a relatively even surface to support the superstructure.

The sewage system was well developed to and is believed to have another purpose as well –
ventilation. The under-floor channels were at right angles to the main axis of the houses,
which were covered in stone slabs but open to the sides. They served the drainage, aeration or
the cooling of the houses.

The people were permanent settlers despite not having started farming. In fact, their main
stay was still hunting and gathering food.

Votive20 offerings of small clay figurines and other sculptures have also been found. The free-
standing anthropomorphic figures of limestone excavated at Nevali Cori belong to the
earliest known life-size sculptures.

Six miles from Urfa, in southeastern Turkey, startling archaeological discoveries of massive
carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not
yet developed metal tools or even pottery have been made. The megaliths predate Stonehenge
by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and is believed to be the site of the
world's oldest temple.

GOBEKLI TEPE
Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and
arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and
would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. Gobekli was a place of
worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity's first "cathedral on a hill."
()

Similarly settlements like Jericho and Ain Ghazal in Jordan too, had rectangular houses with
mud-bricks after the 9th century. They had evolved from circular dwellings made of mud
brick found in Jericho during the 10th century. Even the walls and floor were plastered. The
main utility of structures in these sites was for storage, worship and residing.

JERICHO
Jericho is the oldest walled town in the world. Its walls were first built around 8,000 BC - just
after the start of agriculture. Before Jericho was founded people lived by hunting and also be
gathering wild grains. However Jericho is sited on a spring and that enabled people to grow

20 A votive deposit or votive offering is an object left in a sacred place for ritual purposes

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crops of wheat and barley. They may have also irrigated their crops. Most of its people lived
by growing crops although they also hunted animals.

The first walls around Jericho were about 2 metres thick at the bottom they were made of
boulders laid edge to edge without mortar. Neolithic Jericho probably had a population of
about 2,000-3,000 many of whom would have been part-time soldiers. They would have
fought with spears and bows and arrows. Jericho must have been wealthy for its people to
build such fortifications, the first in the world.

When the first walls were built about 8,000 BC pottery had not been invented, so bowls were
made of stone. Food was cooked in clay ovens.

The people of Jericho traded with their neighbours. Stones found in Neolithic Jericho came
from as far away as Turkey showing that long distance trade was already established.

Before 6,000 BC the people of Jericho also kept skulls in shrines. The skulls had plaster
'faces' added to them to make them look lifelike and they had cowrie shells in their eye
sockets. This shows that the concept of life after death was well-established.()

The people of Jericho knew how to make sun dried bricks and they used them to make
houses. The houses had their floor levels below ground level, as a result of which they had 2
steps going down to the main floor level at the entry. They knew how to make mortar and
used it to plaster walls and floors. Another interesting feature are the benches, which ran all
along the walls of the house.

AIN GHAZAL
Ain Ghazal is renowned for a set of anthropomorphic statues found buried in pits in the
vicinity of some special buildings that may have had ritual functions. These statues are half-
size human figures modelled in white plaster around a core of bundled twigs. The figures
have painted clothes, hair, and in some cases, ornamental tattoos or body paint. The eyes are
created using cowries’ shells with a bitumen pupil

Most of the Ain Ghazal people buried some of their dead beneath the floors of their houses,
others outside in the surrounding terrain. Of those buried inside, often later the head was
retrieved and the skull buried in a separate shallow pit beneath the house floor. Also, many
human remains have been found in what appears to be garbage pits, where domestic waste
was disposed, indicating that not every deceased was ceremoniously put to rest.

Why only a small, selected portion was properly buried and the majority just disposed of,
remains unresolved.(). One possibility is social differences, though this is unlikely because
such differences had not crept into society until much later.

The people of Ain Ghazal had started farming legumes, chickpeas etc, to a small extent. They
also domesticated goats. However, agriculture only caught on properly in the 7th century BC,
with the Jarmo culture. The walls of the houses actually had lime plaster on the inside and
mud plaster on the outside. Ain Ghazal had a population to the effect of about 3000 people.
The population dropped majorly in 6500 BC, possibly owing to environmental degradation
and climate change.
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POTTERY NEOLITHIC
Pottery and tool making became more and more important around the 5 th century BC.
However, they are present even in slightly earlier settlements like Jarmo in Iraq and
Catalhayuk (or Catalhoyuk) in Anatolia.

JARMO, IRAQ
Due to the development of advanced stone tools that could be used for agriculture, farming
became a way of life for the Jarmo people and hence it is known as the oldest agricultural
community. Agricultural activity is attested by the presence of stone sickles, cutters, bowls
and other objects, for harvesting, preparing and storing food, and also by receptacles of
engraved marble. They made tools out of bones and used them as awls21, spoons; beads etc.
pottery was handmade, simply designed with thick sides, treated with vegetable solvents.

Further research has shown that the villagers of Jarmo grew wheat of two types, emmer and
einkorn, a type of primitive barley and lentils (it is common to record the domestication of
grains, less so of pulses). Their diet and that of their animals, also included species of wild
plant, peas, acorns, carob seeds, pistachios and wild wheat. There is evidence that they had
domesticated goats, sheep and dogs. On the higher levels of the site pigs have been found,
together with the first evidence of pottery. They grew many types of crops and domesticated
various animals.

Architecturally speaking, they were pretty advanced and had proper foundations, tauf walls,
and reed bedding.

There are clay figures, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, including figures of pregnant women
(fertility goddesses) similar to the Mother Goddess found across the globe in many cultures.

ÇATAL HAÝUK, TURKEY


Catalhayuk is one of the best known Neolithic cities of Anatolia, renowned for its unique
architecture. The site ruins represent a village of 300 mud b rick and plaster residences, one
of the earliest villages found to date. The site was occupied from about 6300-5500 BC, and
its most striking and famous feature are the shrines, shrines dedicated to what has been called
the "Mother Goddess." Mud-brick houses were crammed together in an agglutinative manner.

No footpaths or streets were used between dwellings, which were accessed by holes in the
ceiling, and were reached by interior and exterior ladders.()

The residences were accessed through the roof, into main rooms, each about 20x13 feet (6x4
m). The floors of the rooms were lime-plastered, and covered with reed mats. The walls of
the main rooms were painted with red-colored panels, touched up over time. Built-in benches
and platforms lined the walls; small niches and ovens were carved into them. Indoor grain
bins were associated with some of the residences. Figurines were recovered from several of
these seemingly utilitarian rooms. Non-utilitarian rooms were also present; they are
apparently shrines. Elaborate wall paintings and displays of objects including decorated
animal skulls were found in these rooms.()

21 a long pointed spike

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Catalhayuk was ahead of its time in terms of the tools that have been found there.

Stone tools include delicately chipped arrow points, spearheads, and daggers; ground stone
tools included mortars, pestles, querns, axes, adzes and the like.

Bone tools have been recovered from the site as well, including awls, needles, hairpins, knife
handles; wooden bowls and woven baskets have also been recovered.

Ceramic vessels have also been recovered from all levels. Women predominate as the
subjects of the art, but cattle, goats and other animal figurines are not uncommon either.

Vivid murals and figurines are found throughout the settlement, on interior and exterior
walls. The mother goddess has been depicted in abundance in terms of paintings as well as
sculptures.

As society progressed, there also seemed to be an increase in the belief of superstitions like
afterlife etc. For instance the people of Catalhayuk believed in afterlife, and hence the burial
was an elaborate affair where all the belongings of the deceased were buried along with him.

MEHRGARH, PAKISTAN
Mehrgarh, located in Baluchistan, Pakistan is one of the most important sites in the Indian
context. It is considered as India’s earliest agriculture based community, dating back to
around 7000 BC. The absence of early residential structures has been interpreted by some as
further evidence of the site’s early occupation by mobile early humans possible travelling
through the nearby pass seasonally().

As agriculture developed, the need to settle down arose, and permanent dwellings were made.
The excavated houses were made of mud and mud-bricks. Multiple rooms without doors are
believed to have been used for storing grain. This is quite similar to the construction
techniques in other civilizations like Jarmo, Catalhayuk or even Jericho, for that matter.

The domesticated animals comprise cattle, sheep, goat and waterbuffalo while the cultivated
plants comprise several varieties of wheat and barley which is again, very similar to the
Middle Eastern civilizations.

There is evidence of extensive use of timber in the construction of houses, which is not the
case with Middle Eastern civilizations, due to paucity of wood.

Female terracotta figurines with pendulous breasts and stamped seals of terracotta and bone
have been found. The mother goddess of Catalhayuk and these figurines are on the same
lines, another similarity. The mother goddess or the goddess of fertility is seen across
civilizations and millennia, in the form of paintings, sculptures and figurines. Figures of the
mother goddess have been found in Cultures like Sumerian, Anatolian, Germanic, Greek and
even in Hindu texts.

The pottery of Mehrgarh was earlier hand made after which the wheel was introduced.
However, Middle Eastern pottery is mostly only handmade. The discovery of a copper ring
and a bead show the emergence of metal technology in Mehrgarh. The early Mehrgarh

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residents used local copper ore, basket containers lined with bitumen, and an array of bone
tools.

It was found that the people of Mehrgarh actually knew about dentistry and were quite
advanced in it. Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.

JHUSI
The Neolithic phase at Jhusi is characterised by handmade pottery, bone tools and
arrowheads, stone tools. A big structure that might have been used as hearth-cum-pottery-kiln
has also been found, somewhat like Jarmo, Iraq. Recently a site near the confluence of
Ganges and Yamuna rivers called Jhusi yielded a C14 dating of 7100 BC for
its Neolithic levels. Historically, Jhusi was known as Prathisthanpuram.

LAHURADEWA
Lahuradewa, being present on the Ganga plain has extremely fertile soil. It is considered to
have become a settlement because of the fact that agriculture was well supported by the soil
as well as because of the presence of sufficient amount of water bodies.

The continuous occurrence of micro charcoal in the lakebeds justifiably mitigates the human
activities that persistently set fire to the vegetation in the area during past ca. 10,000 years.
Palynological studies from lakebeds helped in reconstruction of vegetational history,
sequential changes in the climate and early agricultural activities from early Holocene and

onwards in Middle Ganga Plain. The human groups at that early date, who subjected the
vegetation to fire for environmental management, were those who brought into being a settled
early farming culture at Lahuradewa – characterized by cord-impressed pottery.

Primordially, the record of domesticated rice in the opening phase of Lahuradewa settlement,
prima facie constitutes the evidence of early Holocene agriculture in Middle Ganga Plain.

A certain kind of rice called Oryza sativa was grown widely. Intact rice grains and occasional
finds of rachis and the husk pieces conform morphologically to those of existing
domesticated forms of Oryza sativa, right from the opening phase of occupation during
7th millennium BC. (). The cultivated type of rice is a culmination due to manipulations by
hunter-gatherers living in this area for thousands of years prior to the early farming
communities. There is a strong possibility that people have been living in Ganga Plain since
late Palaeolithic and interacted with the communities living in Vindhyas, Himalayas and
other areas.()

The settlers made wattle-and-daub dwellings having mud plastered screens made of reed like
material. Aquatic fauna formed a considerable proportion of their subsistence economy.

Also, these people were interacting directly or indirectly with distant regions to procure
steatite/steatite beads and beads made of semiprecious stones.
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The art of ceramics and clay artifacts was also present, as indicated by the excavations.

THE DAWN OF METAL: CHALCOLITHIC AGE (4500 – 3300 BC)


The Chalcolithic period or Copper Age period (also known as the Eneolithic period), is a
phase in the development of human culture in which the use of early metal tools appeared
alongside the use of stone tools.

The period is a transitional one outside of the traditional three-age system, and occurs
between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Copper was not widely exploited at first and efforts
in alloying it with tin and other metals began quite early, making distinguishing the distinct
Chalcolithic cultures and later periods difficult. The boundary between the copper and bronze
ages is indistinct, since alloys sputtered in and out of use due to the erratic supply of tin.

The emergence of metallurgy occurred first in the Fertile Crescent, where it gave rise to
the Bronze Age in the 4th millennium BC.

European archaeology generally avoids the use of 'Chalcolithic' (they prefer the term 'Copper
Age'), while Middle-Eastern archaeologists regularly use it. The Copper Age in the Middle
East and the Caucasus began in the late 5th millennium BC and lasted for about a millennium
before it gave rise to the Early Bronze Age. Transition from the European Copper Age to the
European Bronze Age occurred about a millennium after it did in the Middle East.

Ceramic similarities between the Indus Civilization, southern Turkmenistan, and


northern Iran during 4300–3300 BC of the Chalcolithic period suggest considerable mobility
and trade amongst these regions.

CHALCOLITHIC AGE IN INDIA


In India, the earliest settlements belonging to the Chalcolithic phase extended from the
Chhotanagpur plateau to the copper Gangetic basin. Some sites were found at Brahmagiri
near Mysore and Navada Toli on the Narmada.

The transition from use of stone to the use of metals was slow and long drawn. There is no
doubt that there was an overlapping period when both stone and metals were used. This is
proved by the close resemblance of metallic tools and implements with stone tools and
implements from the same time. The Chalcolithic age or stone-copper age of India produced
a splendid civilization in the Indus Valley, a civilization that slowly spread to the
neighbouring regions.

The economy of the Chalcolithic Indians was based on subsistence agriculture, stock-raising,
hunting and fishing. Their tools consisted of a specialized blade and flake of salacious
material like chalcedony and chert. Copper and bronze tools were present, albeit in limited
numbers. Varied cultures spread across a wide region shared the common characteristic of
painted pottery.

Another striking feature was the burial practice for the dead. The dead were buried in north-
south position in Maharashtra but in east-west position in south India. In eastern India, only a
fraction of population buried their dead.
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The largest settlement was found at a town called Diamabad, which, along with places like
Inamagaon exhibit ‘town like’ characteristics. Inamagaon even has evidence of town
planning. Evidence of Fortification first appears in the sites at Nagada, Inamagaon, Diamabad
and Balathal.

Evidence of baked brickwork has been found in Gilund, while the town of Ahar is believed to
have had stone dwellings, where microliths have also been discovered. All dwellings dating
back to this period in India were chiefly circular and rectangular. Flat copper axes have been
found at the excavation sites at Jorwey and Chandoli.

The chief crop of the Chalcolithic Indians living in the river basins was barley, although
evidence of rice cultivation has been found at Inamgaon. Fire altars and workshops were
prevalent during these times and an inner funeral system existed.

Crafts during this time were mainly seen in different types of pottery found in different parts
of the country. Red ware was found in Ahar, deep red ware in Kayatha, deep brown and black
ware in Malwa, pictographic red and black ware in Saalda, Jorwey, and Prabhas, and finally
polished red ware in Rangpur.

CHALCOLITHIC AGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST


The characteristics of the Chalcolithic Age in the Middle East can be understood by focusing
on a few sites of human settlement dating back to this period.

HACILAR
Hacilar was an early human settlement in southwestern Turkey, 25 km southwest of present
day Burdur. It dated back to 7040 BC in its earliest stage of development. Archaeological
remains indicate that the site was abandoned and reoccupied on more than one occasion in its
history.

Housing in Hacilar consisted of grouped units surrounding an inner courtyard. Each dwelling
was built on a foundation of stone to protect against water damage. Walls were made of wood
and daub or mud-brick that was mortared with lime. Wooden poles were located within each
unit to support a flat roof. It is generally believed that these houses had an upper story made
of wood.

The interiors were finished smooth with plaster and were rarely painted. Over time changes
were made to the housing units; Querns, braziers and mortars appeared in the floors. Recesses
in walls were also put to good use as cupboards. The kitchen was separated from the living
rooms and the upper levels were used as granaries and/or workshops.

BEYCESULTAN
Beycesultan is another archaeological site in western Anatolia, located about 5 km southwest
of the modern-day city of Çiyril in Turkey, in a bend of an old tributary of Büyük Menderes
River (Maeander River). Beycesultan was occupied by humans for long period of time-
between the Late Chalcolithic and the Late Bronze Age (Hittite Empire) and then also in
the Byzantine period. Excavations began in 1954 and a Byzantine town was found first. Soon
after, the excavators uncovered initial finds of even larger interest. The Hittite section of
Beycesultan possibly corresponds to the city of Astarpa, known from Mursilis II's annals.
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The excavators reported the finding of a row of small houses that had been destroyed by fire,
along with champagne-glass pottery. There was also a palace whose plan suggested a hint of
a similarity to the Minoan Palace at Knossos, which was well-looted upon its destruction:

The arrangement of spaces in the palace suggested an elaborate lifestyle. At one entrance of
the palace was a kind of bathroom, where visitors washed themselves before making their
bows at court. There was one odd feature of the inner chambers: floors were raised about a
yard above the ground. Beneath these floors were small passages. They suggest air ducts of a
heating system, but nothing of the sort is known to have existed until 1,000 years later.

Outside the palace, the most interesting feature was a row of little shops. One was a Bronze
Age pub with sunken vats for the wine supply aided by a lavish supply of glasses for serving
the customers. It also had knucklebones, a gambling game commonly played amongst people
of the region.

ALIŞAR HÖYÜK
The archaeological site of Alişar Höyük is situated near the village of Alişar in the Yozgat
of Turkey. The site was inhabited from the Chalcolithic period in the fourth millennium BC
until the Phrygian period in the first millennium BC. During the Early and Middle Bronze
Age in the third millennium BC Alişar developed into a walled town. Eventually it became
the most significant city in the region. Like Kanesh to the south, it was a center for trade
attracting merchants from Assyria at the beginning of the second millennium BC. The city
was then destroyed; probably due to the conquest by the semi-legendary Hittite king Anitta.
He is said to have conquered the city of Kussar which can be identified with Alişar Hüyük.
The Hittites later shifted their capital to Hattusa in the north. By the Hittite empire period
1400-1200 BC Alişar was nothing but a small provincial town probably known as Ankuwa.
Like most Hittite settlements it was burnt and destroyed at the end of the Late Bronze Age in
the twelfth century BC, although the Phrygians later occupied the site.

ON THE VERGE OF HISTORY: THE BRONZE AGE (3300 – 1200 BC)


The Bronze Age of a culture is that period in its evolution when the most
advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) of that culture utilized the
alloy bronze. This could either have been based on the
local smelting of copper and tin from ores, or trading for bronze from production areas
elsewhere. Many Bronze Age cultures flourished in prehistoric times.

Naturally occurring ores for bronze during this period typically included arsenic as a common
impurity. Copper/tin ores were rare, as reflected in the fact that there were no tin bronzes in
western Asia before 3000 BC. The Bronze Age is regarded as the second part of the three-age
system for prehistoric societies, though there were some cultures that had extensive written
records during their Bronze Ages. In this system, in most areas of the world the Bronze Age
followed the Neolithic age, and the Chalcolithic Age was just a period of transition.

BRONZE AGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST


EGYPT

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In Ancient Egypt, the Bronze Age begins in the Protodynastic period, c. 3150 BC. The Early
Bronze Age included the Early Dynastic Period, the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate
Period of Egypt. The Egyptian Middle Bronze Age corresponded with the Middle Kingdom
and the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (characterized by the invasion of the Hyksos).
The advent of the New Kingdom of Egypt heralded the Late Bronze Age.

LEVANT
In the Levant region, the Bronze Age occurred chronologically in the Ebla (Early Bronze
Age), the Amorite kingdoms (Middle Bronze Age) and thereafter in Mitanni, Ugarit and with
the Aramaens (Late Bronze Age).

ANATOLIA
Bronze Age Anatolia included a number of city states and empires, including the Hittite
Kingdom, Arzawa and Assuwa.

PERSIAN PLATEAU
In the Persian Plateau, the Bronze Age cities included Elam, Konar Sandal, the Kulli Culture,
Tappeh Sialk, and the Oxus Civilization.

MESOPOTAMIA
Mesopotamia is a name for the Tigris–Euphrates region in the eastern Mediterranean, largely
corresponding to Iraq, as well as northeastern Syria, some parts of southeastern Turkey, and
some parts of the Khūzestān Province of southwestern Iran.

In Mesopotamia, the Bronze Age begins at about 2900 BC in the late Uruk period, spanning
the Early Dynastic period of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, the Old Babylonian and Old
Assyrian periods and the period of Kassite hegemony.

Widely considered as the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included


Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires. In the Iron Age, it was ruled by
the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian Empire, and later conquered by
the Achaemenid Empire.

• Chalcolithic or Copper age:


○ Ubaid period (ca. 5900 BCE–4400 BCE)
○ Uruk period (ca. 4400 BCE–3200 BCE)
○ Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100 BCE–2900 BCE)
• Early Bronze Age
○ Early Dynastic Sumerian city-states (ca. 2900 BCE–2350 BCE)
○ Akkadian Empire (ca. 2350 BCE–2193 BCE).
○ Third dynasty of Ur ("Sumerian Renaissance" or "Neo-Sumerian Period") (ca.
2119 BCE–2004 BCE)
• Middle Bronze Age
○ Early Assyrian kingdom (20th to 18th c. BCE)
○ First Babylonian Dynasty (18th to 17th c. BCE)
• Late Bronze Age
○ Kassite dynasty, Middle Assyrian period (16th to 12th c. BCE)
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• Bronze Age collapse (12th to 11th c. BCE)

ARCHITECTURE OF BRONZE AGE MESOPOTAMIA


The study of ancient Mesopotamian architecture is based on the
available archaeological evidence, pictorial representation of buildings and texts on building
practices. Scholarly literature usually concentrates on temples, palaces, city walls and gates
and other monumental buildings, but occasionally there are works on residential architecture
as well. Archaeological surface surveys also allow for the study of urban form in early
Mesopotamian cities. Most notably known architectural remains from early Mesopotamia are
the temple complexes at Uruk from the 4th millennium BC, and temples and palaces from
the Early Dynastic period sites. Middle Bronze Age evidence is confined to the Syrian-
Turkish sites.

Late Bronze Age palaces at are at Bogazkoy (Hattusha), Ugarit, Ashur and Nuzi, and at
Assyrian, Babylonian , and Neo-Hittite sites. Houses are mostly known from Old Babylonian
remains at Nippur and Ur. Among the textual sources on building construction and associated
rituals, Gudea's cylinders from the late 3rd millennium BC are notable, as well as the
Assyrian and Babylonian royal inscriptions.

The materials used to build a Mesopotamian house were the same as those used today: mud
brick, mud plaster and wooden doors, which were all naturally available around the city,
although wood could not be naturally made workable during the particular time period
described. Most houses had a square center room with other rooms attached to it, but a great
variation in the size and materials used to build the houses suggest they were built by the
inhabitants themselves. The smallest rooms may not have coincided with the poorest people;
in fact it could be that the poorest people built houses out of perishable materials such as
reeds on the outside of the city, but there is very little direct evidence for this.

The palaces of the early Mesopotamian elites were large scale complexes, and were often
lavishly decorated. Earliest examples are known from the Diyala River valley sites such as
Khafajah and Tell Asmar. These third millennium BC palaces functioned as a large scale
socio-economic institutions; therefore, along with residential and private function, they
housed craftsmen workshops, food storehouses, ceremonial courtyards, and often associated
with shrines.

Assyrian palaces have become famous due to the pictorial and textual narrative programs on
their walls, all carved on stone slabs known as orthostats. These pictorial programs either
incorporated cultic scenes or the narrative accounts of the kings' military and civic
accomplishments. Gates and important passageways were flanked with massive stone
sculpture of apotropaic mythological figures. The architectural arrangement of these palaces
was also organized around large and small courtyards. Usually the king's throne room opened
to a massive ceremonial courtyard where important state councils met, state ceremonies
performed.

Massive amounts of ivory furniture pieces were found in many Assyrian palaces pointing out
an intense trade relationship with North Syrian Neo-Hittite states at the time. There is also
good evidence that bronze repousse bands decorated the wooden gates.
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Ziggurats were huge pyramidal temple towers built in the ancient Mesopotamian valley and
western Iranian plateau, having the form of a terraced step pyramid of successively receding
stories or levels. There are 32 ziggurats known at, and near, Mesopotamia. Twenty-eight of
them are in Iraq, and four of them are in Iran. Ziggurats were built by
the Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites and Assyrians as monuments to local religions. The
earliest examples of the ziggurat were raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period during
the fourth millennium BC, and the latest date from the 6th century BC. The top of the
ziggurat was flat, unlike many pyramids. Built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or
square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure. Sun-baked bricks made up the core
of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. The facings were often glazed in
different colors and may have had astrological significance. Kings sometimes had their
names engraved on these glazed bricks. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven, with a
shrine or temple at the summit. Access to the shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one
side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit. It has been suggested that
ziggurats were built to resemble mountains, but there is little textual or archaeological
evidence to support that hypothesis.

Ur-Nammu's ziggurat at Ur was designed as a three-stage construction; today only two of


these survive. This entire mudbrick core structure was originally given a facing of baked
brick envelope set in bitumen, circa 2.5 m on the first lowest stage, and 1.15 m on the second.
Each of these baked bricks was stamped with the name of the king. The sloping walls of the
stages were buttressed. The access to the top was by means of a triple monumental staircase,
which all converged at a portal that opened on a landing between the first and second stages.
The height of the first stage was about 11 m while the second stage rose some 5.7 m. Usually
a third stage is reconstructed by the excavator of the ziggurat, and crowned by a temple. At
the Tschoga Zanbil ziggurat archaeologists have found massive reed ropes that ran across the
core of the ziggurat structure and tied together the mudbrick mass.

The Mesopotamians lived a similar lifestyle to the Marsh Arabs, who live on the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. During the rain bringing season sometimes the rivers would partially flood
the land, so only the highest points or dirt mounds would not be covered with water. If this
happened then the Mesopotamians would have to use boats to go to other people’s houses or
to outside of the flooding areas. The river affected Mesopotamian life in many different ways.
The Mesopotamians had complex and intricate ways of farming. They would use canals
(which they often had to repair and re-dig) to irrigate during the dry season. The
Mesopotamians had bucket lifting devices to move water between different levels in the
canals and to bring water to the crops. The irrigation was counted on so crops could grow and
the crops would be enough food to last through the winter. Irrigation in Mesopotamia played
an important role.

The Mesopotamians were the first people to invent writing, or an alphabet. At the beginning,
writing was simple, a picture to show what you wanted to show. Eventually writing evolved
to complex cuneiform. There were hundreds of letters in the cuneiform alphabet. The
language Mesopotamians spoken was called Sumerian. Cuneiform has been adapted for use
with Akkadian, Babylonian, Persian, and many other languages.

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Farmers grew food to feed the people of Mesopotamia, but the wealth of the cities of
Mesopotamia came from merchants and craftspeople. The Mesopotamians placed great value
on commerce. Mesopotamia didn’t have many natural resources, so they traded mostly grain
and textiles. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were responsible for getting the goods to and
from Mesopotamia. They traded goods as far as Africa, Asia, and Europe. Mesopotamia
didn’t use coins, but standards based on the weight of silver and grains were established.
Money from taxes helped a program to build a bridge across the Euphrates river to trade even
more. Without trade Mesopotamia would have easily failed. Mesopotamians created the first
wheeled vehicles in about 3500 B.C.E. They first used the wheel to make wheel – thrown
pottery and then in Uruk, while trying to figure out how to carry a heavy load of goods a man
created a sort of wheel. He placed a block of wood on a log and used it to pull his goods.

EBLA
Ebla was an ancient city about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-
state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650
BC.

The site is most famous for the archive of about 15,000 cuneiform tablets found there, dated
from around 2250 BC, written in Sumerian script to record the Eblaite language — a
previously unknown Semitic language.

The name "Ebla" means "White Rock", and refers to the limestone outcrop on which the city
was built. Eblamite is a hybrid cuneiform of Ebri/Hebrew and Sumerian. Although the site
shows signs of continuous occupation from before 3000 BC, its power grew and reached its
apogee in the second half of the following millennium. Ebla's first apogee was between ca.
2400 and 2240 BC; its name is mentioned in texts from Akkad from ca. 2300 BC.

Most of the Ebla palace tablets, which date from that period, are about economic matters;
they provide a good look into the everyday life of the inhabitants, as well as many important
insights into the cultural, economic, and political life in northern Mesopotamia around the
middle of the third millennium B.C. The texts are accounts of the state revenues, but they
also include royal letters, Sumerian-Eblaite dictionaries, school texts and diplomatic
documents, like treaties between Ebla and other towns of the region.

At that time, Ebla was a major commercial center. Its major commercial rival was Mari, and
Ebla is suspected in having a hand in Mari's first destruction. The tablets reveal that the city's
inhabitants owned about 200,000 head of mixed cattle (sheep, goats, and cows). The city's
main articles of trade were probably timber from the nearby mountains (and perhaps
from Lebanon), and textiles (mentioned in Sumerian texts from the city-state of Lagash).
Most of its trade seems to have been directed towards Mesopotamia (chiefly Kish), and
contacts with Egypt are attested by pottery fragments with the names of pharaohs Khafreh
and Pepi I. Handicrafts may also have been a major export: exquisite artifacts have been
recovered from the ruins, including wood furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl and composite
statues created from different colored stones. The artistic style at Ebla may have influenced
the quality work of the Akkadian empire.

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The form of government at Ebla is not well known, but the city appears to have been ruled by
a merchant aristocracy who elected a king and entrusted the city's defense to paid soldiers.

3rd millennium Ebla was a polytheistic society.Some well-known Semitic deities appear at
Ebla, alongside some otherwise unknown ones , plus a few Sumerian gods and Hurrian gods.
The four city gates were named after the gods Dagan, Baal (Hadda), Rasap, and Utu. Overall,
about forty deities are mentioned in the tablets as receiving sacrifices.

Three versions of a text described as an Eblaite creation hymn have been found. They have
been translated as:

Lord of heaven and earth:


the earth was not, you created it,
the light of day was not, you created it,
the morning light you had not [yet] made exist.

These lines seem to have points in common both with known Sumerian creation stories and
with the Biblical account.

Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-sin, the conquerors of much of Mesopotamia, each
claim to have destroyed Ebla; the exact date of destruction is the subject of continuing debate,
but 2240 BC is a probable candidate. During the next three centuries, Ebla was able to regain
some economic importance in the region, but never reached its former glory. It is possible the
city had economic ties with the nearby city of Urshu, as is documented by economic texts
from Drehem (a suburb of Nippur), and from findings in Kanesh.

Several centuries after its destruction by the Akkadians, Ebla managed to recover some of its
importance, and had a second apogee lasting from ca. 1850 to 1600 BC. Its people were then
described as Amorites.

Ebla is mentioned in texts from Alalakh from ca. 1750 BC. The city was destroyed again in
the turbulent period of 1650 – 1600 BC, by a Hittite king (Mursili I or Hattusili I).

Ebla never recovered from its second destruction. The city continued as a small village until
the 7th century AD, then was deserted and forgotten until its archaeological rediscovery.

CONCLUSION
Even though humans evolved in Africa, it is the Middle East where civilization first
developed. The Middle East acted as a sort of super highway connecting Africa and Eurasia.
Middle East was inhabited not just by the homo sapiens but also by earlier species such as the
homo habilis, homo erectus and homo neanderthalis.

It pioneered the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer groups to large community


settlements. With the evolution of humans, their shelters also evolved. Sedentary lifestyle and
much better tools meant that dwellings advanced from the most basic cave and pit dwellings
to large mud and stone structures. The Middle East is where farming first developed, and

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animals were first domesticated. Pottery, jewelry and elaborate burial traditions also stemmed
in this region.

This far back in time, there was hardly any difference in the lifestyles of early humans,
whether in the Middle East or India. In the same time periods, contemporary sites in both
regions were occupied by the same species who utilized the same tools and technologies.
This means that despite the geographical variations, civilizations in general progressed at the
same pace, with perhaps minor differences.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
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(n.d.). Retrieved from dictionary.reference.com.

(n.d.). Retrieved from www.about.com.

(n.d.). Retrieved from www.localhistories.org.

(n.d.). Retrieved from www.mrdowling.com.

(n.d.). Retrieved from www.smithsonianmag.com.

(n.d.). Retrieved from www.uparcheology.com.

(2003). Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia Standard .

Lloyd, C. (2009). What on Earth Happened? ...In Brief. Bloomsbury.

Misra, V. Prehistoric human colonization of India.

Reader’s Digest Vanished Civilizations. (2002). The Readers’ Digest Association Ltd.

Saraswati research and education trust. (n.d.).

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