Stone Age Man

The jump from stone-age man (primitive man, early modern man or Cro-Magnon Man, whatever you want to call him) to civilized man is defined by some as taking place with the invention of agriculture around 10,000 to 8000 B.C., and by others with the development of writing around 3200 B.C. Yet others say it took place with the invention of metal tools (beginning with copper ones) around 4500 B.C.

Around 10,000 to 8,000 B.C. at sites scattered around the world, but mostly in the Near East, the cultivation of previously wild plants and the domestication of previously wild animals for work and food took place. Development of pottery vessels and cloth took place around the same time or not long afterwards. Among the results of these advancements were huge increases in the human population and control by mankind over the Earth.

The Neolithic period (from about 9500 to 6000 B.C.) was one in which people began using of polished stone tools and started shifting to agriculture from hunting and gathering. The shift from the nomadic life to one involving living in villages and farming is sometimes called the Neolithic Revolution, a term coined by the Australian archaeologist V. Gordon Childe. There is a debate among archaeologists as to what caused the Neolithic Revolution. The conventional view for a long time had been that change began taking place about 11,400 years ago when the last ice age came to an end and agriculture became possible, perhaps even necessary for survival. Some archaeologists disagree with this view and believe changes came about as human cognition and psychology changed.

Around 10,000 B.C. the Near East was largely occupied by nomads who hunted gazelle, goats, sheep and cattle and gathered grasses, cereals and fruits. At the end of the ice age it was originally thought the climate in the Near East was warmer and drier but in fact it was wetter. The landscape in the region was very different that it is today. Hills that are now barren and rocky may have been covered with dense forest. Herds of gazelles and other wild animals roamed about, Rivers and lakes teemed with ducks and geese and migratory birds. There were no towns or agricultural areas, Fruits and nuts and grains like barley and wheat grew wild. Humans were hunter-gatherers who migrated to where they could find food. They still used stone tools and live in primitive shelters or caves.

The Near East, the region between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean to present-day Afghanistan, is regarded as the cradle of pre-Mesopotamia culture. It was where agriculture began, the first animals were domesticated and the first villages were founded.

The world population around 10,000 B.C. was between 5 million and 10 million. By 3000 B.C. It was 100 million. Archaeologists have estimated that no more than 20,000 people and maybe as few as 1,600 people lived in France at one time during Paleolithic times.

Anthropologist J. Lawrence Angel discovered that 30,000 years ago men averaged 5 feet 11 and women averaged 5 foot 6. In Greco-Roman times men were 5 foot 6 and women were 5 foot 0. In 1960, American men were 5 foot 9. Angel also estimated that on average men lived to be 33.3 years old and women 28.7 years old during paleolithic times and that men had lost an average of 2.2 teeth when died: 3.5 teeth in 6,500 B.C.; 6.6 missing in Roman times.

Development of Modern Man Fire, Tools, Shelter, Art, Music, Culture, See Hominids and Early Modern Man.

Websites and Resources on Prehistory: Wikipedia article on Prehistory Wikipedia ; Early Humans ; Prehistoric Art ; Evolution of Modern Humans ; Websites and Resources of Early Agriculture and Domesticated Animals: Britannica; Wikipedia article History of Agriculture Wikipedia ; History of Food and Agriculture museum.agropolis; Wikipedia article Animal Domestication Wikipedia ; Cattle Domestication; Food Timeline, History of Food ; Food and History ;Iceman Photscan ; Otzi Official Site

Archaeology News and Resources: : serves the online community interested in anthropology and archaeology; is good source for archaeological news and information. Archaeology in Europe features educational resources, original material on many archaeological subjects and has information on archaeological events, study tours, field trips and archaeological courses, links to web sites and articles; Archaeology magazine has archaeology news and articles and is a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America; Archaeology News Network archaeologynewsnetwork is a non-profit, online open access, pro- community news website on archaeology; British Archaeology magazine british-archaeology-magazine is an excellent source published by the Council for British Archaeology; Current Archaeology magazine is produced by the UK’s leading archaeology magazine; HeritageDaily is an online heritage and archaeology magazine, highlighting the latest news and new discoveries; Livescience : general science website with plenty of archaeological content and news. Past Horizons : online magazine site covering archaeology and heritage news as well as news on other science fields; The Archaeology Channel explores archaeology and cultural heritage through streaming media; Ancient History Encyclopedia : is put out by a non-profit organization and includes articles on pre-history; Best of History Websites is a good source for links to other sites; Essential Humanities provides information on History and Art History, including sections Prehistory

Accelerated Evolution

The conventional wisdom for a long time was that humans had mastered their environments so well starting around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was invented, it was no longer necessary to evolve. University of Michigan paleoanthropologist Milford Wolpoff told the Los Angeles Times, “People thought that with technology and culture there’d be no reason for physical things to make any difference. If you can ride a horse, it doesn’t matter if you can runs fast.”

But it turns nothing could be further from the truth: the speed of evolution for mankind is speeding up not slowing down, with some scientists estimating the pace is 100 times more than it was 10,000 years ago if no other reason than that there are many more people living in the world today. Wolpoff said, “When there’s more people, there are more mutations. And when there’s more mutations there’s more selection.”

In 2007, scientists compared 3 million genetic variants in the DNA of 269 people of African, Asian, European and North American descent and found 1,800 genes had been widely adopted in the last 40,000 years. Using more conservative methods, researchers came with 300 to 5000 variants, still a significant numbers. Among the changes that have occurred in the last 6,000 to 10,000 has been the introduction of blue eyes. That long ago nearly every one had brown eyes and blue eyes were non existent. Now there are half a billion people with them.

Neolithic Revolution Theory

Civilized Man in Ur in early Mesopotamia

Charles C. Mann wrote in National Geographic, "V. Gordon Childe, an Australian transplant to Britain, was a flamboyant man, a passionate Marxist who wore plus fours and bow ties and larded his public addresses with noodle-headed paeans to Stalinism. He was also one of the most influential archaeologists of the past century. A great synthesist, Childe wove together his colleagues' disconnected facts into overarching intellectual schemes. The most famous of these arose in the 1920s, when he invented the concept of the Neolithic Revolution. [Source:Charles C. Mann, National Geographic, June 2011]

In today's terms, Childe's views could be summed up like this: Homo sapiens burst onto the scene about 200,000 years ago. For most of the millennia that followed, the species changed remarkably little, with humans living as small bands of wandering foragers. Then came the Neolithic Revolution?"a radical change," Childe said, "fraught with revolutionary consequences for the whole species." In a lightning bolt of inspiration, one part of humankind turned its back on foraging and embraced agriculture. The adoption of farming, Childe argued, brought with it further transformations. To tend their fields, people had to stop wandering and move into permanent villages, where they developed new tools and created pottery. The Neolithic Revolution, in his view, was an explosively important event?"the greatest in human history after the mastery of fire."

Of all the aspects of the revolution, agriculture was the most important. For thousands of years men and women with stone implements had wandered the landscape, cutting off heads of wild grain and taking them home. Even though these people may have tended and protected their grain patches, the plants they watched over were still wild. Wild wheat and barley, unlike their domesticated versions, shatter when they are ripe — the kernels easily break off the plant and fall to the ground, making them next to impossible to harvest when fully ripe. Genetically speaking, true grain agriculture began only when people planted large new areas with mutated plants that did not shatter at maturity, creating fields of domesticated wheat and barley that, so to speak, waited for farmers to harvest them.

Rather than having to comb through the landscape for food, people could now grow as much as they needed and where they needed it, so they could live together in larger groups. Population soared. "It was only after the revolution — but immediately thereafter — that our species really began to multiply at all fast," Childe wrote. In these suddenly more populous societies, ideas could be more readily exchanged, and rates of technological and social innovation soared. Religion and art — the hallmarks of civilization — flourished.

Childe, like most researchers today, believed that the revolution first occurred in the Fertile Crescent, the arc of land that curves northeast from Gaza into southern Turkey and then sweeps southeast into Iraq. Bounded on the south by the harsh Syrian Desert and on the north by the mountains of Turkey, the crescent is a band of temperate climate between inhospitable extremes. Its eastern terminus is the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in southern Iraq — the site of a realm known as Sumer, which dates back to about 4000 B.C. In Childe's day most researchers agreed that Sumer represented the beginning of civilization. Archaeologist Samuel Noah Kramer summed up that view in the 1950s in his book History Begins at Sumer.

Natufians and the Debunking of Neolithic Revolution Theory

Charles C. Mann wrote in National Geographic, In the Levant — the area that today encompasses Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan, and western Syria — archaeologists had discovered settlements dating as far back as 13,000 B.C. Known as Natufian villages (the name comes from the first of these sites to be found), they sprang up across the Levant as the Ice Age was drawing to a close, ushering in a time when the region's climate became relatively warm and wet. [Source: Charles C. Mann, National Geographic, June 2011]

Although the Natufians lived in permanent settlements of up to several hundred people, they were foragers, not farmers, hunting gazelles and gathering wild rye, barley, and wheat. "It was a big sign that our ideas needed to be revised," says Harvard University archaeologist Ofer Bar-Yosef.

Natufian villages ran into hard times around 10,800 B.C., when regional temperatures abruptly fell some 12̊F, part of a mini ice age that lasted 1,200 years and created much drier conditions across the Fertile Crescent. With animal habitat and grain patches shrinking, a number of villages suddenly became too populous for the local food supply. Many people once again became wandering foragers, searching the landscape for remaining food sources.

Some settlements tried to adjust to the more arid conditions. The village of Abu Hureyra, in what is now northern Syria, seemingly tried to cultivate local stands of rye, perhaps replanting them. After examining rye grains from the site, Gordon Hillman of University College London and Andrew Moore of the Rochester Institute of Technology argued in 2000 that some were bigger than their wild equivalents — a possible sign of domestication, because cultivation inevitably increases qualities, such as fruit and seed size, that people find valuable. Bar-Yosef and some other researchers came to believe that nearby sites like Mureybet and Tell Qaramel also had had agriculture.

If these archaeologists were correct, these protovillages provided a new explanation of how complex society began. Childe thought that agriculture came first, that it was the innovation that allowed humans to seize the opportunity of a rich new environment to extend their dominion over the natural world...The Natufian sites in the Levant suggested instead that settlement came first and that farming arose later, as a product of crisis. Confronted with a drying, cooling environment and growing populations, humans in the remaining fecund areas thought, as Bar-Yosef puts it, "If we move, these other folks will exploit our resources. The best way for us to survive is to settle down and exploit our own area." Agriculture followed. [Source: Charles C. Mann, National Geographic, June 2011]

The idea that the Neolithic Revolution was driven by climate change resonated during the 1990s, a time when people were increasingly worried about the effects of modern global warming. It was promoted in countless articles and books and ultimately enshrined in Wikipedia. Yet critics charged that the evidence was weak, not least because Abu Hureyra, Mureybet, and many other sites in northern Syria had been flooded by dams before they could be fully excavated. "You had an entire theory on the origins of human culture essentially based on a half a dozen unusually plump seeds," ancient-grain specialist George Willcox of the National Center for Scientific Research, in France, says. "Isn't it more likely that these grains were puffed during charring or that somebody at Abu Hureyra found some unusual-looking wild rye?"

Europe agricultural revolution

Paleolithic Period

Paleolithic Period (about 3 million years to 10,000 B.C.) — also spelled Palaeolithic Period and also called Old Stone Age — is a cultural stage of human development, characterized by the use of chipped stone tools. The Paleolithic Period is divided into three period: 1) Lower Paleolithic Period (2,580,000 to 200,000 years ago); 2) Middle Paleolithic Period (about 200,000 years ago to about 40,000 years ago); 3) Upper Paleolithic Period (beginning about 40,000 years ago). The three subdivisions are generally defined by the types of tools used — and their corresponding levels of sophistication — in each period. The period is studied through archaeology, the biological sciences, and even metaphysical studies including theology. Archaeology supplies sufficient information to provide some insight into the minds of Neanderthals and early Modern Man (i.e. Cro Magnon Man) who lived during this time.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The onset of the Paleolithic Period has traditionally coincided with the first evidence of tool construction and use by Homo some 2.58 million years ago, near the beginning of the Pleistocene Epoch (2.58 million to 11,700 years ago). In 2015, however, researchers excavating a dry riverbed near Kenya’s Lake Turkana discovered primitive stone tools embedded in rocks dating to 3.3 million years ago—the middle of the Pliocene Epoch (some 5.3 million to 2.58 million years ago). Those tools predate the oldest confirmed specimens of Homo by almost 1 million years, which raises the possibility that toolmaking originated with Australopithecus or its contemporaries and that the timing of the onset of this cultural stage should be reevaluated. “Throughout the Paleolithic, humans were food gatherers, depending for their subsistence on hunting wild animals and birds, fishing, and collecting wild fruits, nuts, and berries. The artifactual record of this exceedingly long interval is very incomplete; it can be studied from such imperishable objects of now-extinct culture. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ^]

“At sites dating from the Lower Paleolithic Period (2,580,000 to 200,000 years ago), simple pebble tools have been found in association with the remains of what may have been some of the earliest human ancestors. A somewhat more-sophisticated Lower Paleolithic tradition known as the Chopper chopping-tool industry is widely distributed in the Eastern Hemisphere and tradition is thought to have been the work of the hominin species named Homo erectus. It is believed that H. erectus probably made tools of wood and bone, although no such fossil tools have yet been found, as well as of stone.^

“About 700,000 years ago a new Lower Paleolithic tool, the hand ax, appeared. The earliest European hand axes are assigned to the Abbevillian industry, which developed in northern France in the valley of the Somme River; a later, more-refined hand-ax tradition is seen in the Acheulean industry, evidence of which has been found in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Some of the earliest known hand axes were found at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) in association with remains of H. erectus. Alongside the hand-ax tradition there developed a distinct and very different stone tool industry, based on flakes of stone: special tools were made from worked (carefully shaped) flakes of flint. In Europe the Clactonian industry is one example of a flake tradition. ^

“The early flake industries probably contributed to the development of the Middle Paleolithic flake tools of the Mousterian industry, which is associated with the remains of Neanderthals. Other items dating to the Middle Paleolithic are shell beads found in both North and South Africa. In Taforalt, Morocco, the beads were dated to approximately 82,000 years ago, and other, younger examples were encountered in Blombos Cave, Blombosfontein Nature Reserve, on the southern coast of South Africa. Experts determined that the patterns of wear seem to indicate that some of these shells were suspended, some were engraved, and examples from both sites were covered with red ochre. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ^]

Paleolithic to Chalcolithic Periods in Palestine

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: Here we “provide an overview of ancient Near Eastern history as reconstructed out of the researches of historians and archaeologists, first, from the Paleolithic to the Chalcolithic (Copper) periods. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

300,000 to 70,000 years ago
Lower Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Pebble tools
Man discovers fire (200,000)
Bifacial tools Tabunian Cave on Mount Carmel;
Yarbrud in Syria

70,000 to 35,000 years ago
Middle Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Mousterian flaked flints
Neanderthal Man, Galilee, Palestine; Mount Carmel, Palestine

35,000 years ago to 12,000 B.C.
Upper Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Blade industries
"tepee" type dwellings, figurines, bone and ivory jewelry Wadi en-Natuf, Palestine; Shanidar, Iraq; Zawi Chemi, Iraq; Karim Shahir, Iraq

12,000 to 10,000 B.C.
Hamlet Life
Natufian micro-flints, new weapons and tools, primitive agriculture, rock drawings and wall paintings, beginnings of sea travel, Wadi en-Natuf, Palestine; Deir Tasi, Egypt; Jarmo, Iraq; Tell Hassuna, Iraq

10,000 to 4,500 B.C.
Village Life
Extensive agriculture, domestication of animals, extensive trade, early shrines Jericho, Palestine; Deir Tasi, Egypt; Jarmo, Iraq; Tell Hassuna, Iraq

4,500 to 3,300 B.C.
Citys /States and Kingdoms
Copper and stone tools, pottery of varied styles, beginning of ziggurats, development of writing and mathematics, cylinder seals used, time of the "Flood", Egyptian nomes unite to form upper and lower Egypt

al Badari, Egypt; el Amrah, Egypt; Tepe Gawra, Iraq; Tell Halaf, Iraq; Eridu, Iraq; Beer-sheba, Palestine; Dead Sea Region

Lower Paleolithic Palestine (300,000 to 70,000 years ago)

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “As elsewhere in the Near East, evidence of human habitation can be found in Palestine dating to the Paleolithic period, or Old Stone Age, which lasted hundreds of thousands of years. Paleolithic man was a nomad, depending upon natural resources for sustenance, following migrations of wild animals and harvesting wild grain wherever it chanced to grow. Possibly his itineraries followed some generally established pattern, terminating in a periodic return to a family cave. On the basis of stone artifacts (implements made from wood, fibre or leather are seldom preserved), the earliest Paleolithic period, which extends from more than 300,000 years ago to approximately 70,000 years ago, can be divided into three parts. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

“During the so-called "Pebble" or "Chopper" period, water-smoothed pebbles or chunks of rock were roughly shaped by chipping one end into a cutting edge. Such tools have been found in the Jordan River valley just south of the Sea of Galilee and at a hillside site midway between Tiberias and Nazareth. In the later Bifacial period, hand-axes were formed by working both sides of a flint block to make a point or cutting edge, and such tools have been found in Galilee, near Jerusalem, and in the desert regions in southern Palestine. Hearths and burned bones reveal that man had mastered the use of fire (approximately 200,000 years ago), and circles of stones, which may have served as seats, spaced around the fire suggest that the glowing embers provided a center for family gatherings.”

“The third period, named Tabunian after the Tabun cave on Mount Carmel, and Yabrudian after a site in Syria, is characterized by superior skill in shaping tools and by new and more varied implements. Variances in tool patterns at different sites (as at Carmel and Yabrud) indicate that each group created and maintained local traditions and techniques. Comparable materials are found in Europe.

Human migrations

Population Trends Beginning About 100,000 Years Ago

100,000 Years Ago: Michael Balter wrote in Discover: Artistic Behavior Appears: Most researchers date the origins of Homo sapiens to between 200,000 and 160,000 years ago in Africa. Yet for their first 100,000 years, modern humans behaved like their more archaic ancestors, producing simple stone tools and showing few signs of the artistic sparks that would come to characterize human behavior. Scientists have long argued about this gap between when humans started looking modern and when they began acting modern. University College London archaeologist Stephen Shennan has proposed that cultural innovations were likely due to increased contact among humans as they began living in ever-larger groups. Shennan adapted Henrich’s Tasmanian model to much earlier human populations. When he plugged in estimates of prehistoric population sizes and densities, he found that the ideal demographic conditions for advancement began in Africa 100,000 years ago—just when signs of modern behavior first emerge.” [Source: Michael Balter, Discover October 18, 2012]

65,000 “Years Ago: Stone Tools Spread: Population size could explain why the same stone tool innovations show up at the same time across wide geographic regions. Lyn Wadley, an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, has worked at the Middle Stone Age site of Sibudu in South Africa, where she found evidence of two sophisticated tool traditions dating to 71,000–72,000 years ago and 60,000–65,000 years ago. Similar tools pop up all across southern Africa at around the same time. Wadley says early humans did not have to migrate long distances for this kind of cultural transmission to take place. Instead, increasing population densities in Africa may have made it easier for people to keep in contact with neighboring groups, possibly to exchange mating partners. Such meetings would have exchanged ideas as well as genes, thus setting off a chain reaction of innovation across the continent.”

45,000 Years Ago: “Homo Sapiens Takes Europe: A bigger population may have helped H. sapiens eliminate its chief rival for domination of the planet: the Neanderthals. When modern humans began moving into Europe about 45,000 years ago, the Neanderthals had already been there for at least 100,000 years. But by 35,000 years ago, the Neanderthals were extinct. Last year Cambridge University archaeologist Paul Mellars analyzed modern human and Neanderthal sites in southern France. Looking at indicators of population size and density (such as the number of stone tools, animal remains, and total number of sites), he concluded that modern humans—who may have had a population of only a few thousand when they first arrived on the continent—came to outnumber the Neanderthals by a factor of ten to one. Numerical supremacy must have been an overwhelming factor that allowed modern humans to outcompete their larger rivals.”

25,000 Years Ago: “Ice Age Exerts A Toll: By 35,000 years ago, H. sapiens appears to have had the planet to itself, with the possible exception of an isolated population of H. floresiensis—the “hobbit” people of Southeast Asia—and another newly discovered hominid species in China. But according to work led by University of Auckland anthropologist Quentin Atkinson, human population growth, at least outside of Africa, began to slow down around then, possibly due to the climate changes associated with a new ice age. In Europe, total human numbers may actually have declined as glaciers began to cover much of the northern part of the continent and humans retreated farther south. But population levels never dropped enough for humans to start losing their technological and symbolic innovations. When the Ice Age ended, about 15,000 years ago, population began to climb again, setting the stage for a major turning point in human evolution.”

11,000 Years Ago: “Farming Sparks a Boom: Farming villages first appeared in the Near East during the Neolithic period, about 11,000 years ago, and soon afterwards in many other parts of the world. They marked the beginning of a transition from the nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle to a settled existence based on cultivating plants and herding animals. That transition helped catapult the world’s population from perhaps 6 million on the eve of the invention of agriculture to 7 billion today. Archaeologist Jean-Pierre Bocquet-Appel has surveyed cemeteries across Europe associated with early settlements and found that with the advent of farming came an increase in the skeletons of juveniles. Bocquet-Appel argues this is a sign of increased female fertility caused by a decrease in the interval between births, which probably resulted from both the new sedentary life and higher-calorie diets. This period marks the most fundamental demographic shift in human history.”

First Great Human Population Explosion: 60,000-80,000 Years Ago

Contrary to what had been previously thought the first human population explosion occurred with hunter-gatherers 60,000-80,000 years ago, not with the first farmers around 10,000-12,000, a genetic study suggested. Popular Archaeology reported: “The prevailing theory is that, as humans transitioned to domesticating plants and animals around 10,000 years ago, they developed a more sedentary lifestyle, leading to settlements, the development of new agricultural techniques, and relatively rapid population expansion from 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C. [Source: Popular Archaeology, September 24, 2013 \=/]

“But hold on, say the authors of a recently completed genetic study. Carla Aimé and her colleagues at Laboratoire Eco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, University of Paris, conducted a study using 20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations, and compared the genetic results with archaeological findings. They concluded that the first big expansion of human populations may be much older than the one associated with the emergence of farming and herding, and that it could date as far back as Paleolithic times, or 60,000-80,000 years ago. The humans who lived during this time period were hunter-gatherers. The authors hypothesize that the early population expansion could be associated with the emergence of new, more sophisticated hunting technologies, as evidenced in some archaeolocal findings. Moreover, they state, environmental changes could possibly have played a role. \=/

“The researchers also showed that populations who adopted the farming lifestyle during the Neolithic Period (10,200 – 3,000 B.C.) had experienced the most robust Paleolithic expansions prior to the transition to agriculture. “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aimé. The details of the study have been published in the scientific journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution, by Oxford University Press.” \=/

Paleolithic Period

Middle Paleolithic Palestine (70,000 to 35,000 years ago)

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “In the Middle Paleolithic period, extending from about 70,000 to 35,000 years ago, man's tools improved. Having learned to take thinner flakes from flints, he could make more precise shapes and a greater variety of implements were developed. The people of this culture, first discovered at Le Moustier in France and named Mousterian, are related to Neanderthal man and are similar to (but still different from) modern man. In 1923, Mr. F. Turville-Petre, an Oxford student, excavating a cave near the Sea of Galilee on behalf of the British School of Archaeology, discovered four pieces of the skull of a young man amid mineralized animal bones and flint tools of the Mousterian type. This find, labeled "Galilee man," was the first of such discoveries in Palestine. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

"Carmel man," whose remains were found shortly afterward in caves in the Carmel mountains, proved to be another offshoot of Neanderthal man. Taller than Neanderthal, walking upright, probably possessing speech, Carmel man left flint tools, bone ware, an amazingly preserved four-sided spear point of wood, and numerous burials which, by their very nature, reflected deep concern for the dead and perhaps the expression of some form of religious feeling. The dead were entombed in the floor of the cave, sharing in death the same habitation as the living. Bodies were placed on the side in the "sleep" position and there is some evidence that food was interred with the body, suggesting belief in afterlife.

“Carmel Man differed from the typical Neanderthal type found in Europe and had physical characteristics closer to Homo sapiens. The thick ridge of the brows or occipital protuberances, the heavy nasal structure and the lack of any true chin development are typical Neanderthal features. Carmel man shows the slightest hint of a developing chin and above the protruding brows is a higher forehead, more akin to Homo sapiens. This sketch is after E. Anati in Palestine Before the Hebrews (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963) p. 103.

Upper Paleolithic Period

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The Upper Paleolithic Period (40,000 - 10,000 years ago) was characterized by the emergence of regional stone tool industries, such as the Perigordian, Aurignacian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian of Europe as well as other localized industries of the Old World and the oldest known cultures of the New World. Principally associated with the fossil remains of such anatomically modern humans as Cro-Magnons, Upper Paleolithic industries exhibit greater complexity, specialization, and variety of tool types and the emergence of distinctive regional artistic traditions. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]

Neanderthals disappeared at the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period (also called Late Paleolithi period) but they left behind evidence of spiritual perceptions. This is most clearly seen in Neanderthal Burials at: 1) at Shanidar in northern Iraq, excavated by Richard Solecki, and in 2) Russian Turkestan. The Shanidar grave contained the body of a 42-year-old man, sprinkled with flowers. The Turkestan grave contained a 4-year-old-boy child buried with the accouterment of a warrior The Shanidar burial is not in and of itself evidence of a belief in an Afterlife. But in the case of the boy from Turkestan, one must ask why a boy, who could not have been a warrior, were buried with such equipment unless there were an expectation that he might need it? This is the best evidence of a belief in an afterlife 45,000 years ago, though it is not proof. [Source: Internet Archive, from UNT]

Chauvet Cave art, created beginning around 40,000 years ago

Paleolithic Art

Most Paleolithic art dates to the Upper Paleolithic Period . According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Two main forms of Paleolithic art are known to modern scholars: small sculptures; and monumental paintings, incised designs, and reliefs on the walls of caves. Such works were produced throughout the Mediterranean region and other scattered parts of Eurasia and Africa but survived in quantity only in eastern Europe and parts of Spain and France. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ^]

“Small sculptured pieces evidently dominated the Upper Paleolithic artistic traditions of eastern Europe; typical were small, portable clay figurines and bone and ivory carvings. The works from this area include simple but realistic stone and clay animal figurines, as well as carved stone statuettes of women, referred to by scholars as Venus figures. These small stylized figures are characteristically rotund, emphasizing parts of the female body associated with sexuality and fertility; many are so abstract that only protuberant breasts and exaggerated hips are clearly distinguishable. ^

“Monumental arts flourished in western Europe, the province of the so-called Franco-Cantabrian school, where limestone caves—such as those of Chauvet–Pont d’Arc and Lascaux Grotto—provided a sheltered surface for paintings, incised designs, and relief carvings. These caves have preserved much small carving of fine quality and an abundant and varied sample of prehistoric graphic art, from simple finger tracings in clay to sophisticated polychrome paintings, generally depicting animals, of dynamic naturalism and exquisite design. ^

“The function or purpose of art in Paleolithic life remains a subject of debate. Some scholars see the human and animal representations as evidence of the use of magical rites to ensure success in hunting or to guarantee fertility. Others have suggested that Paleolithic artists’ accurate representations of animals’ coats may be an early attempt to produce a seasonal notation system. Another viewpoint, disregarding utility altogether, sees the art of Paleolithic peoples solely as an outgrowth of a basic human need to creatively record and reproduce aspects of the surrounding world. ^

“Among the bone and ivory carvings dating to the Paleolithic are several examples of partial bone or ivory flutes, including one with five finger holes, found at Hohle Fels Cave, near Ulm, Germany, and dated to about 35,000 years ago. Those flutes give evidence of yet another art form practiced in prehistoric cultures. ^

Upper Paleolithic Palestine (35,000 years ago to 12,000 B.C.)

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “The final stage of the Paleolithic period, the Late or Upper Paleolithic which extended from about 35,000 to between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, has provided the earliest evidence of man-built structures. Small mounds of earth and rock or excavations into the earth provided the outline of the dwelling above which walls and a roof were constructed, possibly out of branches or perhaps out of animal skins, after the fashion of the American Indian tepee. It is possible that these structures were occupied for part of the year, and in inclement weather Upper Paleolithic man returned to his cave. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

“Well-made flint tools, carved ivory, pendants, necklaces and bracelets of shells, bone, ivory and stone testify to the creative skill of these people. Carved figurines of pregnant females may represent amulets used to facilitate childbirth, or, in view of the later development of the worship of the mother goddess, they may be early evidence of the beginnings of this cult. Comparable Paleolithic evidence has been found in Egypt where Bifacial and Mousterian artifacts were recovered on terraces overlooking the Nile, at oases, and on the shores of ancient lakes.

Mesolithic Palestine (12,000 to 10,000 B.C.)

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Sometime between 14,000 and 12,000 years ago, the Mesolithic period or Middle Stone Age began in the Near East, and with it came a veritable social and technological revolution probably due, in part, to changes in climate at the close of the last Ice Age. The most dramatic evidence in Palestine has come from a site ten miles northwest of Jerusalem in the Wadi en-Natuf, which has given the name "Natufian" to the culture. In 1928, in a huge cave some 70 feet above the wadi, Miss Dorothy Garrod found evidence of a center of flint industry characterized by tiny crescents and triangles of flint known as micro-flints. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

“Natufian sites, since found in other locations, suggest long periods of uninterrupted occupation and reveal a uniformity in art, industry, burial customs and artifacts that indicates close communication among groups, although it must be admitted that each site has its own distinctive features. Massive implements, such as huge basalt mortars weighing hundreds of pounds for grinding grain, were produced, as well as such delicate objects of bone as fish hooks, barbed harpoons and pins. A wide variety of tools, including adzes, sickles and picks, suggest the beginning of agriculture. Rock carvings portray men using lassoes and nets, and the imprint of matting on clay floors indicates the weaving of fibers.

“During this period the bow and arrow were used and, with better tools and weapons and having learned how to store food, it is possible that life became somewhat easier, providing time for artistic expression. Rock drawings and wall paintings depict men and animals with the precise pictorial representation so often characteristic of primitive art, but Natufian man moved beyond this phase into schematic and symbolic representation and geometric patterns. Skeletons were often decorated with necklaces, pendants, breast ornaments and headdresses of shell and bone. The curious custom of separating the skull from the rest of the skeleton has been variously interpreted as a cannibalistic rite, evidence of ancestor worship, a skull cult, or simply as an interesting hobby of collecting tokens of victory over enemies. Sea travel had begun, probably on rafts of bamboo or papyrus at first and later on more sophisticated ships, and the Near Eastern world was drawn more closely together.

Europe in the Middle Neolithic Period

Neolithic Period

The Neolithic period (from about 9500 to 6000 B.C.) was one in which people began using of polished stone tools and started shifting to agriculture from hunting and gathering. The shift from the nomadic life to one involving living in villages and farming is sometimes called the Neolithic Revolution, a term coined by the Australian archaeologist V. Gordon Childe.

The jump from stone-age man (primitive man, early modern man or Cro-Magnon Man, whatever you want to call him) to modern man (or civilized man) is defined by some as taking place with the invention of agriculture around 10,000 to 8000 B.C., and by others with the development of writing around 3200 B.C. Yet others say it took place with the invention of metals tools (beginning with copper ones) around 4500 B.C.

Around 10,000 to 8,000 B.C. at sites scattered around the world, but mostly in the Near East, the cultivation of previously wild plants and the domestication of previously wild animals for work and food took place. Development of pottery vessels and cloth took place not long afterwards. Among the results of these advancements were huge increases in the human population and control by mankind over the Earth.

There is a debate among archaeologists as to what caused the Neolithic Revolution. The conventional view for a long time had been that change began taking place about 11,400 years ago when the last ice age came to an end and agriculture became possible, perhaps even necessary for survival. Some archaeologists disagree with this view and believe changes came about as human cognition and psychology changed.

Around 10,000 B.C. the Near East was largely occupied by nomads who hunted gazelle, goats, sheep and cattle and gathered grasses, cereals and fruits. At the end of the ice age it was originally thought the climate in the Near East was warmer and drier but in fact it was wetter. The landscape in the region was very different that it is today. Hills that are now barren and rocky may have been covered with dense forest. Herds of gazelles and other wild animals roamed about, Rivers and lakes teemed with ducks and geese and migratory birds. There were no towns or agricultural areas, Fruits and nuts and grains like barley and wheat grew wild. Humans were hunter-gatherers who migrated to where they could find food. They still used stone tools and live in primitive shelters or caves.

The Near East, the region between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean to present-day Afghanistan, is regarded as the cradle of pre-Mesopotamia culture. It was where agriculture began, the first animals were domesticated and the first villages were founded.

Neolithic Palestine (10,000 to 4,500 B.C.)

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “The Neolithic or New Stone Age began between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago (10,000-8,000 B.C.) and is characterized by settled communities in which man, having developed agricultural skills, was no longer dependent upon natural resources for food. Excavations at Jericho, directed by Miss Kathleen Kenyon, produced impressive evidence of the development of village culture prior to the invention of pottery. Floors surrounded by stone and earth humps were found in the earliest levels, but solid structures soon began to appear. Circular houses, with pounded earth floors cut below the level of the surrounding terrain, had upper walls of upright poles and elongated, cigar shaped bricks sloping inward to form domed roofs. Woven reed mats covered the floors. Around this community, a wall of free-standing stone had been built, over six feet wide in some places and still standing to a height of twelve feet. A huge tower more than thirty feet high with an interior staircase was built against the inner wall. Such structures indicate the existence of fully developed, cooperative community life as early as the sixth and seventh millennium B.C. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, ]

“Subsequent layers of occupation reveal new living patterns. Houses become rectilinear with plastered floors and walls. Bones of goats, pigs, sheep and cattle point to domestication of these animals. Obsidian, turquoise and cowrie shells were imported from Syria, the Sinai peninsula and the Mediterranean for manufacture of tools and ornaments. In a shrine, a piece of volcanic stone from the Dead Sea area was placed in a niche, perhaps foreshadowing the sacred standing pillars mentioned in the Bible.3 Clay figurines and human skulls with features skillfully modeled in fine clay reveal artistic tendencies and, perhaps, if these items are cult objects, association with worship. Later, in the Neolithic period (fifth millennium), pottery-making begins. From this period have come three almost life-sized plaster statues built on reed frames, representing a man, woman, and child. The male head, which alone was recovered intact, is a flat disc of clay about one inch thick, with shells for eyes and brown paint for hair. It is possible that a divine triad is represented.

“In Egypt during the Tasian period (named for Deir Tasi in Middle Egypt) which began between 10,000 and 7,000 B.C., man began to cultivate grains, including wheat, barley and flax. In a large Neolithic village near the southwest edge of the delta at Meremdeh Beni-Salamah, oval huts of unbaked mud bricks and a large central granary were found, indicating the development of co-operative enterprise. Woven plant fibers and ornaments of shell, bone and ivory reflect manufacturing and artistic skill. Similar settlements have been found in the Fayum, an ancient oasis west of the Nile.

“Near the Caspian Sea and in the upper reaches of the Tigris River, Paleolithic, Mesolithic and pre-pottery Neolithic materials have been recovered, largely from caves. At Mesolithic sites below Lake Urmia (Karim Shahir, Zawi Chemi, Shanidar), circular dwelling foundations of stone with hearths, storage bins, grinding stones and other implements, together with bones of sheep, cattle and dogs, indicate the beginnings of settled culture. These sites may have been occupied only seasonally. At Jarmo in eastern Iraq, a Neolithic site marked the transition to year-round living at one location. No pottery vessels were found. Crude representations of animals and female figures in unbaked clay point to artistic interests perhaps associated with the worship of the mother goddess or the use of fetishes to aid in childbirth and, possibly, to domestication of animals.

“Similar patterns of developing society have been observed elsewhere. At Tell Hassuna, south of Mosul, adobe dwellings built around open central courts with fine painted pottery replace earlier levels with crude pottery. Hand axes, sickles, grinding stones, bins, baking ovens and numerous bones of domesticated animals reflect settled agricultural life. Female figurines have been related to worship, and jar burials within which food was placed, to belief in afterlife. The relationship of Hassuna pottery to that of Jericho suggests that village culture was becoming widespread.

Europe in the Late Neolithic Period

Natufian Culture (12,500-9500 B.C.)

The Natufian culture refers to most hunter-gatherers who lived in modern-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria approximately 11,500 to 15,000 years ago. They were among the first people to build permanent houses and cultivate edible plants. The advancements they achieved are believed to have been crucial to the development of agriculture during the time periods that followed them.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica: the Natufian culture os a “Mesolithic culture of Palestine and southern Syria dating from about 9000 B.C.. Mainly hunters, the Natufians supplemented their diet by gathering wild grain; they likely did not cultivate it. They had sickles of flint blades set in straight bone handles for harvesting grain and stone mortars and pestles for grinding it. Some groups lived in caves, others occupied incipient villages. They buried their dead with their personal ornaments in cemeteries. Carved bone and stone artwork have been found. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica ]

A study, published in Nature Scientific Reports by a team of scientists and archeologists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rechovot and the University of Copenhagen, rejects the long-held “core region” theory that argues that the Natufian culture spread from the Mount Carmel and Galilee region and suggest instead the Natufian’s had far more diverse and complex origins. Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, December 7, 2017]

Daniel K. Eisenbud wrote in the Jerusalem Post: “According to the researchers, the study is based on evidence from a Natufian site located in Jordan, some 150 km. northeast of Amman. The site, called Shubayqa 1, was excavated by a University of Copenhagen team led by Dr. Tobias Richter from 2012-2015. The excavations uncovered a well-preserved Natufian site, which included, among other findings, a large assemblage of charred plant remains. The botanical remains, which are rare in many Natufian sites in the region, enabled the Weizmann-Copenhagen team to obtain the largest number of dates for any Natufian site yet in either Israel or Jordan.

Utilizing an accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS), that can reveal the amount of carbon-14 in a sample as small as a single atom, Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute, was able to accurately date the charred remains. “To ensure the highest accuracy, the team selected only samples from short-lived plant species or their parts – for example, seeds or twigs – to obtain the dates. “Over 20 samples from different layers of the site were dated, making it one of the best and most accurately dated Natufian sites anywhere,” the Institute continued. “The dates showed, among other things, that the site was first settled not long after the earliest dates obtained for northern Israel.”

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that either Natufians spread very rapidly into the region, or, more probably, that the settlement patterns emerged more or less simultaneously in different parts of the region. “The early date of Shubayqa 1 shows that Natufian hunter- gatherers were more versatile than previously thought,” said Richter. “Past research had linked the emergence of Natufian culture to the rich habitat of the Mediterranean woodland zone. But the early dates from Shubayqa 1 show that these late Pleistocene hunter-gatherers were also able to live quite comfortably in more open parkland steppe zones further east.” Richter noted the researchers determined that a portion of the Natufians’ subsistence appears to have relied heavily on the exploitation of club rush tubers as well as other wild plants, and the hunting of birds, gazelle and other animals.

According to Boaretto, the “core area” theory may have come about, in part, because the Mount Carmel sites have been the best preserved and studied – until now. “In addition to calling into question the idea that the Natufians originated in one settlement and spread outwards, the study suggests that the hunter- gatherers who lived 15,000 to 12,000 years ago were ingenious and resourceful,” said Boaretto. The authors concluded that their findings support the view that there were many pathways to agriculture and “the Neolithic way of life” was a highly variable and complex process that cannot be explained on the basis of single-cause models.

Between the Natufians (12,500-9500 B.C.) and Halaf Period (6500–5500 B.C.)

The Khiamian Period (c. 10,200 – c. 8,800 B.C., also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam) is a period of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, marking the transition between the Natufian and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. Some sources date it from about 10,000 to 9,500 B.C., The Khiamian is named after the site of El Khiam, situated on banks of the Dead Sea, where researchers have recovered the oldest chert arrows heads, with lateral notchs, the so-called "El Khiam points", which has served to identify sites in Israel, (Azraq), Sinai (Abu Madi), and to the north as far as the Middle Euphrates (Mureybet). [Source: Wikipedia +]

The Khiamian is regared as a time without any major technical innovations. However, for the first time houses were built on the ground level, not half buried as was previously done. Otherwise, members of this culture were still hunter-gatherers. Agriculture was still rather primitive. Relatively new discoveries in the Middle East and Anatolia show that some experiments with agriculture had taken place by 10,900 B.C. and wild grain processing had occurred by 19,000 B.C. at Ohalo II. According to Jacques Cauvin, the Khiamian was the beginning of the worship of the Woman and the Bull, found in later following periods in the Near-East, based on the appearance of small female statuettes, as well as by the burying of aurochs skulls.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN, around 8500-5500 B.C.) is the name of the early Neolithic Period in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. The domestication of plants and animals was evolving at this time, possibly triggered by the Younger Dryas drought (See above). The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event, a cool spell that lasted several hundred years and peaked around on 6200 B.C.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN, around 8500-5500 B.C.) Period is divided into three periods 1) Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 8500 B.C. - 7600 B.C.); 2) Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB 7600 B.C. - 6000 B.C.) and 3) Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture (culture continued a few more centuries at 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan).

Around 8000 B.C. during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) the world's first town Jericho appeared in the Levant. PPNB differed from PPNA in showing greater use of domesticated animals, a different set of tools, and new architectural styles.

Halaf Period (6500–5500 B.C.)

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “In the 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. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "The Halaf Period (6500–5500 B.C.)", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2003, \^/]

“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 potters used different sources of clay from their neighbors and achieved outstanding elaboration and elegance of design with their superior quality ware. \^/

“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.” \^/

Books: Campbell, Stuart "The Halaf Period in Iraq: Old Sites and New." Biblical Archaeologist 55 (1992), pp. 182–87.. Hijjara, Ismail “The Halaf Period in Northern Mesopotamia,” London: Nabu Publications, 1997.

Ubaid Period (5500–4000 B.C.)

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “In the 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. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "The Ubaid Period (5500–4000 B.C.)", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2003, \^/]

“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.” \^/

Books: Henrickson, Elizabeth F., and Ingolf Thuesen, eds. Upon This Foundation—The Ubaid Reconsidered: Proceedings from the Ubaid Symposium, Elsinore, May 30th–June 1st 1988.. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1989; Stein, Gil, and Mitchell S. Rothman, eds. Chiefdoms and Early States in the Near East: The Organizational Dynamics of Complexity. Madison, Wis.: Prehistory Press, 199

Samarran Culture, Choga Mami and the Origins of Irrigation

The Samarra culture is a Copper Age culture in northern Mesopotamia that existed roughly dated from 5500 to 4800 B.C.. Partially overlaping with the Hassuna and early Ubaid periods, . Samarra its is associated most with the sites of of Samarra, Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe. At Tell es-Sawwan, evidence of irrigation—including flax—establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure. The culture is primarily known for its finely made pottery decorated with stylized animals, including birds, and geometric designs on dark backgrounds. 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 Ubaid period.

Choga Mami a Samarran site in Diyala Province, Iraq about 110 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, shows some of world’s earliest evidence of irrigation. The first canal irrigation operation dates to about 6000 B.C.. The site,, has been dated to the late 6th millennium B.C., was occupied in several phases from the Samarran culture through the Ubaid. Buildings were rectangular and built of mud brick, including a guard tower at the settlement's entrance. Irrigation supported livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) and arable (wheat, barley and flax) agriculture. [Source: Wikipedia]

Choga Mami yields important evidence on the chronological relationships between North and South Mesopotamian cultures and their connections with Iran. The introduction of irrigation, new types of grain, foreign ceramic styles and domestic cattle are all located in the Choga Mami phase, a late manifestation of the Samarran Period in lowland Mesopotamia. This chronological identification thus also suggests the source of these innovations: migration from the lowlands.

Choga Mami is the largest Tell in the Mandali region. Excavators David and Joan Oates describe the site as a "low mound some 200 meters long and 2-5 meters high," and "heavily eroded, the latest preserved levels dating to 4800 B.C." Based on excavation findings, it appears that Choga Mami had a few small village clusters with small irrigated areas where people grew wheat and barley; herded sheep, goats and some cows; and hunted gazelles and other wild fauna. Lentils and "large-seeded peas" were also grown, while pistachios were gathered from the nearby landscape. The domestication of plants and animals at Choga Mami was possible because of man-made irrigation channels which "ran along the northern side of the mound," which date from the "6th millennium B.C.," and a large canal dating to the end of the Samarran period which was located at the "southwestern side of the mound." Some channels reached more than five kilometers in length, which would require the cooperative labor of larger groups. The latest of these canals can be dated to around 1,500 years ago.

Image Sources: Wikipedia Commons, except Paleolithic map from Palomar College

Text Sources: National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Nature, Scientific American. Live Science, Discover magazine, Discovery News, Ancient Foods ; Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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