Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)
The Advent of the Era of Townships in Northern Mesopotamia
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
This dissertation seeks to show that human cultures did not advance along parallel lines in northern and southern Mesopotamia, and further, that in the North, the era of village farming communities was followed instead by an era of Townships (as compared to Temple Center and later City-States in the South) which represent a long time span extending into Akkadian or even later times.
It can be asserted here that if northern Mesopotamian pre and (*)proto history and even early history is viewed as a succession of cultural eras, it is only the later prehistory and the earlier part of protohistory which parallels the supposed (*)stadial sequences in the southern (*)alluvial era where civilization had come into being.
[In this sense of the word, history pertains to a definition where prehistory is before writing, or the ability to record history. Indeed, the term civilization in this sense inherently includes writing as a prerequisite to being civilized. Thus the protohistory of Sumer thus would include and parallel the first fledgling attempts at writing. But civilization and writing came into being much later in time in northern Mesopotamia].
Later northern Mesopotamia's development may be of a kind not shared with the nuclear zone of urban growth in the South. In other words, in the beginning, the greater potential (in the earlier phases of the terminal food collecting and the beginnings of food production) was in the North and along the hill flanks, [in this case the Zagros Mountain flanks of northeastern Iraq] and was not, in fact, paralleled by anything in the South.
By about Samarran / Halaf [overlapping cultures representing Northern Mesopotamian prehistoric village farming communities] or Eridu [culture representing Southern Mesopotamian prehistoric village farming communities; indeed Eridu was the most southerly and possibly also the earliest city of Sumer] levels of complexity, the South and the North were about parallel, as far as we can now guess. Then the South began to draw ahead.
In brief, this work will attempt to demonstrate that the era of the Temple Center was missing in northern Mesopotamia and its flanks. This striking contrast in cultural development between northern and southern Mesopotamia tends to support seperating the former from the latter for study.
Early attempts at domesticating the wild plants and wild animals on the hilly flanks of northern Mesopotamia made possible the appearance of the earliest village farming communities [Jarmo and lower levels of Hassuna, etcetera].
Judging by the archeological evidence from northern Mesopotamia, farming does not seem to have been detached from the occupations of the urban community either. Farming cannot be entirely excluded from the definition of a town.
I may define the town, then, as a non-urban community in which the majority of the population are still dedicated to farming, and to which features such as fortifications, temples, fairly large settlements, not highly developed social stratifications, trade, cylinder seals, and sculpture are added.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF MESOPOTAMIA
The Mesopotamian (*)Trough
Two subdivisions have been asigned to this region:
Upper Mesopotamia or Jazirah
Upper Mesopotmaia is a vast rolling plain country bounded mainly by the sharp valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Its altitude varies from 500 feet to 1000 feet above sea level with a number of small closed basins from which there is no drainage outlet. The climate of this plain is rather mixed. In the northern parts the rainfall is sufficient for agriculture, especially if supplemented by irrigation. The southern portion of upper Mesopotamia is (*)steppe or even desert land suited only for nomads or (*)pasturalists and sparsely populated by them. These peoples, together with those of the Western [Syrian] desert (although some did at times incline to settle down to agricultural pursuits) have had a disposition to plunder caravans and wage continuous raids for securing wealth from the urban settlements of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in times past.
Lower Mesopotamia or the Alluvial Plain
Lower Mesopotamia or the alluvial plain has been built up by sediments brought by the Tigris and its tributaries, by the Euphrates, and by the Kerkhah and Karum rivers from the mountains of Persia [Western Iran Zagros].
The alluvial plain can be distinguished from that of Upper Mesopotamia by a theoretical line passing through Hit on the Euphrates and Samarra on the Tigris ..... (MAP)
From this line down to the Persian Gulf, the whole area is extremely flat. At no point is the plain higher than 150 feet above sea level. Here, the Twin Rivers flow above the plain level, building up natural levees, and raising their beds so that their overflow tends to form permanent lakes and marshes, and their courses are subject to considerable variation. Thus, unless canals are dug and kept open and the dangerous fancies of the rivers brought under control, settled life is impossible.
The annual rainfall in the alluvial plain is very little; it averages only about 2-6 inches. Furthermore, the (*)regime of the Tigris and the Euphrates does not conform with the agricultural requirements of the area. While crops are planted in September or October, the meltwater run off does not reach the alluvial plains before April or May. Cultivation, therefore, depends largely on irrigation. It follows also that since southern alluvial Mesopotamia has undergone no important changes in climate since the last 5,000 or 4,000 years, it is expected that it could not have been densely populated before the development of irrigation.
* Proto: first in time
* Stadial: having to do with stages or gradations
* Alluvial: the deposit of soil (alluvium) of a stream or river
* Trough: a long shallow often V-shaped channel or depression
* Steppe: vast usually level and treeless tracts
* Pasturalism: social organization based on
livestock raising as the primary economic activity
*G Regime: a regular pattern of occurrence or action (as of seasonal rainfall)