Prehistory Ancient History Prof. Marc Cooper
Prehistory Cayonu, one of the earliest Neolithic sites
Problems • Where and when do we find the earliest agriculture? • What mechanisms produced plant and animal domestication? • Are the domestication of plants and animals related, and if so, how? • Why did hunter/gatherers give up their ways for a sedentary agricultural economy?
Genesis on early agriculture • History begins with paradise • All creatures vegetarians • Gathering vegetables and fruit • Agriculture explained as the consequence of disobedience • Agriculture and herding (Cain and Abel) occurs after “the Fall” • Nimrod the hunter creates first cities in Mesopotamia after agriculture and herding already established • Violence and hunting associated with cities
Hobbes 1588-1679 • Hunter-gatherer people, had: "No culture of the earth; No navigation ... no account of time; No arts; No letters; No society; And which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” • View held until 19th century
Engel’s speculation on early agriculture (1876, 1884) • Argues that the issue is economic transformation from barbarism (primitive communism) to farming • Farming produced: • Private ownership • Oppression of women • Food surplus • Hierarchical government
Gordon Childe – Oasis theory (1928) • Idea of “Fertile Crescent” • “Neolithic Revolution” occurred at oases in the Fertile Crescent • Testable through archaeology • Kathleen Kenyon excavated Jericho, in part, to confirm Oasis Theory • Jericho produced pre-pottery Neolithic
Robert Braidwood – Hilly Flanks theory (1948) • Agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains • Agriculture developed from intensive focused grain gathering • Testable through scientific dating – Carbon 14 developed after WW II • Jarmo (excavated during the 1950s) and Cayonu (excavated during the 1970s) seemed to produce earlier evidence for agriculture than Jericho
Carbon 14 Dating 100% 50% 25% 12.5% Age 0 Age 5,730 Age 11,460 Age 17,190
Results of C-14 testing • Jarmo earlier than Jericho • Early sites found in both oases and hilly flanks areas • Murebet and Jericho earliest agricultural sites ca. 9000 BCE • dry farming sites • derived from Mesolithic Natufian culture • New questions considered during the 1960s and 1970s • How is plant domestication related to wild varieties? • How is animal domestication related to plant domestication? Which comes first? • When was pottery invented? • When was irrigation discovered?
Natufian Hunter-Gatherers • From 11,000-8,000 BCE, hunter-gatherers known as Natufian culture collected wild wheat and barley for food • Mobile settlement, using wild plant resources seasonally (not focused on any resource though) • Shift from simple to complex foraging, focused on a few plant and animal species
Pre-pottery Neolithic 9000 BCE • Jericho and Murebit, type sites • Early dry farming rather than irrigation • Domesticated barley and wheat • Cult of the dead • Extensive use of flint blades and other microlithic tools
Early Pottery • Cayonu is one of the few sites in which the PPN town is immediately below the ceramic town • Earliest pottery is made to resemble baskets • Early ceramic figurines
Çatal Höyük • Flourished from ca. 6500 – 5500 BCE • Town may have had a population of 10,000 • Obsidian trade may have been the source of the town’s wealth • Salt deposits may have been worked as well • Trade connections with Jericho, 1500 miles south
Hassuna Culture 6000 – 5250 BCE • Small villages in northern Mesopotamia • Populations probably did not exceed 500 • Dry farming • Pottery • Red, cream slip • Linear decorations
Halaf Culture 5500 – 4500 BCE • Northern Mesopotamia • Arpachiya • Tepe Gawra • Finely painted naturalistic polychrome pottery
Samarra Culture 5500 – 4800 BCE • Found in central and eastern Mesopotamia • Often found together with Halaf pottery • Associated with early irrigation • Use of linseed oil in dry area shows irrigation • Irrigation ditches found at Tell-es-Sawwan • Link between Halaf and Ubaid cultures
Tell-es-Sawwan • Large fortified village near Samarra • Irrigation technology • Late period shows forerunners of Ubaid architecture
Ubaid Culture 5500 – 4000 BCE • Large village settlements • First temples • Stamp seals very common • Replaced Halaf culture in northern Mesopotamia • Employed irrigation to settle south • Eridu/Ur among earliest Ubaid settlements • Spread along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
Ubaid Temples • Built of mud-brick on stone foundations, new technology • Crenellation in regular use • Painted walls • Much like large versions of contemporary houses • At Eridu, temple built on a mud-brick platform
Ubaid in the far south • Ubaid pottery found in Persian Gulf at about 70 sites mainly on the western shore • About 50% of the pottery made in Sumer according to clay analysis • Suggests large-scale sea borne Ubaidian trade • Dilmun, identified with Bahrein, becomes something like the Garden of Eden in later Sumerian mythology • Ubaidian trade may have linked Mesopotamia and India • No evidence for oceanic trade to the west.
Late Ubaid • Southern Mesopotamian sites show a mix of large and small buildings suggesting the development of an elite • Contemporary Halaf sites in the north remained socially homogenous • As Ubaid culture replaced Halaf culture in the north, the new social differentiations arrived there as well. • Small finds indicate that there were strong trade connections among far flung Ubaid settlements. • By 4500 BCE, the southern Ubaid sites show a distinct hierarchical pattern suggesting that some towns were subordinate to others. • Stamp seals come to be ubiquitous suggesting the development of property
Summary of Near Eastern prehistory • Earliest Neolithic villages ca. 9000 BCE • Neolithic technology and culture predominant by 7000 BCE • Agricultural developments • Plant domestication • Animal domestication • Irrigation before 5500 BCE • Settlement of Babylonia by Halaf/Samarra pioneers 5500 BCE • Ubaidian society develops distinct social and religious hierarchies • First cities by 3500 BCE
Conclusions • Neolithic spread from several centers • Near East • Southeast Asia • North Africa (Sudan and Morocco) • By 5000 BCE agriculture spread to the Mediterranean, China, India • DNA studies suggest that as neolithic people increased in population, they displaced local populations • There does not appear to be a relationship between language and the spread of agriculture • Complex societies developed everywhere favorable environments allowed • Near East was home of the first cities