Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Eye temple

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 12, 2018

Bilderesultat for urfa man

Urfa man

‘Ain Ghazal Statues

A number of monumental lime plaster and reed statues dated to the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period have been discovered in Jordan, at the site of Ayn Ghazal. Dating to between the mid-7th millennium BC and the mid-8th millennium BC, the statues are among the earliest large-scale representations of the human form, and are regarded to be one of the most remarkable specimens of prehistoric art from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period. Although it is held that they represented the ancestors of those in the village, its purpose remains uncertain.

Bilderesultat for head dead natufian alabast

Bilderesultat for eye temple brak

Eye figurines

Relatert bilde


Traditionally, it has been thought that civilization in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean began in two centers, Sumer in the east between the Tigris and Euphrates, and Egypt in the west along the Nile.

The earliest cities are believed to have been built in the flood plains of southern Mesopotamia during the mid-4th millennium BC. There is, however, some evidence that complex urban centers such as Tell Brak were already being built in ancient Syria at the same time. This has led some archaeologists to suggest that civilization began in the north independently of the southern Mesopotamian centers, or even before their emergence.

The earliest proto-agricultural site, dating to about 11,000 BC is located at Tell Abu Hureyra in northwestern Syria near the river Euphrates. Actual agricultural sites first emerge around 8500-9000 BC in the southern Levant. Tell Abu Hureyra demonstrates a precedence of large population centers in Syria going all the way back to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.

Catal Huyuk acts as a bridge between societies in the Fertile Crescent to the east where agriculture and settled life began the earliest, and in societies in Western Anatolia, Greece, and Southeast Europe where agriculture and settled life did not begin until 9,000 years ago with economies that quickly included domestic cattle.

The Chalcolithic was a period in which copper is predominant in metalworking technology. Hence it was the period before it was discovered that adding tin to copper formed bronze (a harder and stronger metal).

Waves of migration from Anatolia and the Zagros mountains (today’s Turkey and Iran) to the Levant helped develop the Chalcolithic culture that existed in Israel’s Upper Galilee region some 6,500 years ago.

The Copper Age in the Ancient Near East began in the late 5th millennium BCE and lasted for about a millennium before it gave rise to the Early Bronze Age. The transition from the European Copper Age to Bronze Age Europe occurs about the same time, between the late 5th and the late 3rd millennia BCE.

Yarim Tepe is an archaeological site of an early farming settlement that goes back to about 6000 BC, located in the Sinjar valley some 7 km southwest from the town of Tal Afar in northern Iraq. The site consists of several hills reflecting the development of the Hassuna culture, and then of the Halaf and Ubaid cultures. Metal items were also found, such as a lead bracelet, copper beads, as well as copper ore, which represents some of the oldest metallurgy in Mesopotamia.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Colchis, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf). The technology and typology of bone-based instruments are similar to those of the Middle East Neolithic material culture.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is a Neolithic culture centered in upper Mesopotamia. Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet.

It was typed by Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the West Bank. This is the first period in which architectural styles of the southern Levant became primarily rectilinear; earlier typical dwellings were circular, elliptical and occasionally even octagonal.

Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone. It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.

White Ware or “Vaisselle Blanche”, effectively a form of limestone plaster used to make vessels, is the first precursor to clay pottery developed in the Levant that appeared in the 9th millennium BC, during the pre-pottery (aceramic) neolithic period. White Ware was commonly found in PPNB archaeological sites in Syria such as Tell Aswad, Tell Abu Hureyra, Bouqras and El Kowm.

The similarities of White Ware and overlapping time periods with later clay firing methods have suggested that Dark Faced Burnished Ware, the first real pottery, came as a development from this limestone prototype. It is predominantly found at archaeological sites in Lebanon, Israel southwest Syria and Cyprus.

Another important population center in Neolithic Syria was established at Tell Brak by around 6000 BC. This was about half a millennium after the first settlements at Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia were founded. By the mid-fourth millennium, a structure was built at Tell Brak which consisted of impressive architecture and numerous kilns, which suggest that this was not a residential building, but that it was built for large feasts.

This is further supported by a large collection of mass-produced pottery plates and animal remains. Objects such as a jade bear and eye-idols have also been discovered which are refined to a degree that suggests craft-specialization. These all strongly imply that by the 4th millennium BC, Tell Brak had become a bustling proto-urban center.

It is very likely that J2a, J1-Z1828, L1b, T1a-P77 and G2a-L293 were the dominant male lineages the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture (3,400-2,000 BCE) during Late Copper to Early Bronze Age, which expanded from the southern Caucasus toward northern Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The Kura-Araxes cultural tradition existed in the highlands of the South Caucasus from 3500 to 2450 BCE. This tradition represented an adaptive regime and a symbolically encoded common identity spread over a broad area of patchy mountain environments.

By 3000 BCE, groups bearing this identity had migrated southwest across a wide area from the Taurus Mountains down into the southern Levant, southeast along the Zagros Mountains, and north across the Caucasus Mountains. In these new places, they became effectively ethnic groups amid already heterogeneous societies.

The Kura-Araxes culture expanded from the South Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the western Iran. After that J2 could have propagated through Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean with the rise of early civilizations during the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age.

From then on, J2 men would have definitely have represented a sizeable portion of the population of Bronze and Iron Age civilizations such as the Hurrians, the Assyrians or the Hittites. It is very possible that bronze technology spread from the South Caucasus across the Iranian plateau until the Indus Valley, giving rise to the Harappan Civilisation.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation.

Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

Most present-day Arabic speakers outside the Arabian Peninsula are likewise only very partially or not all Arabic genetically. In the northern half of the Middle East, most of the people who call themselves Arabs of today are in fact mainly descendants of other historic peoples, such as the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, or even the Hurrians. Most of these peoples are predominantly J2, with many minority haplogroups (E1b1b, G, J1, L, Q, R1a, R1b, T).

Urfa man, known formally as the Balikligöl statue, is the oldest human-size statue of a man yet discovered in the world. He is currently housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum, Southeast Turkey. Urfa man was discovered in the Old Town section of Şanliurfa, but in antiquity belongs to the same thought world of Göbekli Tepe, a site half an hour away from the museum by car.

The late Professor Klaus Schmidt, former head of excavation at Göbekli Tepe, an unexpected archeological precursor between Neolithic mindsets and the birth of Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations, discerned Urfa man as inferior to Göbekli Tepe’s humanoid T-shapes, but minister to them.

That Urfa man and the T-shapes might relate can be seen in the double V-shape neck design. Pillar 31, one of the dominant twin-pillars of Enclosure D bears a similar double V-shape at the neck. Significantly perhaps, this pillar’s companion (pillar 18) bears only a single V-shape marking. Urfa man is embracing his genitals, and the twin-pillars of Enclosure D are both depicted embracing the navel.

An imposing figure standing over 6ft, it seems clear Urfa man was a cult statue even though only one of his kind has been found to date. That he may have had connection with fertility is persuasive, but ‘fertility’ can be applied as an answer to everything from the ancient world.

Turning our attention to the strange, vaguely unsettling appearance of the face, Urfa man’s voiceless image cast by a conspicuously absent mouth and gazing obsidian-filled eyes is hauntingly enigmatic, but offers a link with another class of ancient statuary known as the eye idol. Though Urfa man is much larger than an eye idol, both may have imbued a related ‘voice technology’ in their manufacture.

The Halafians were the indigenous people of Neolithic northern Syria, who later adopted the southern Ubaidian culture. Contact with the Mesopotamian south increased during the early and middle Northern Uruk period, and southern people moved to Tell Brak in the late Uruk period,] forming a colony, which produced a mixed society.

The Urukean colony was abandoned by the colonist toward the end of the fourth millennium BC, leaving the indigenous Tell Brak a much contracted city. The pre-Akkadian kingdom’s population was Semitic, and spoke its own East Semitic dialect of the Eblaite language used in Ebla and Mari. The Nagarite dialect is closer to the dialect of Mari rather than that of Ebla.

No Hurrian names are recorded in the pre-Akkadian period. During the Akkadian period, both Semitic and Hurrian names were recorded, as the Hurrians appears to have taken advantage of the power vacuum caused by the destruction of the pre-Akkadian kingdom, in order to migrate and expand in the region.

The post-Akkadian period Tell Brak had a strong Hurrian element, and Hurrian named rulers, although the region was also inhabited by Amorite tribes. A number of the Amorite Banu-Yamina tribes settled the surroundings of Tell Brak during the reign of Zimri-Lim of Mari, and each group used its own language (Hurrian and Amorite languages).

Tell Brak was a center of the Hurrian-Mitannian empire, which had Hurrian as its official language. However, Akkadian was the region’s international language, evidenced by the post-Akkadian and Mitannian eras tablets, discovered at Tell Brak and written in Akkadian.

The findings in the Eye Temple indicate that Tell Brak is among the earliest sites of organized religion in northern Mesopotamia. It is unknown to which deity the Eye Temple was dedicated, and the “Eyes” figurines appears to be votive offerings to that unknown deity. Michel Meslin hypothesized that the temple was the center of the Sumerian Innana or the Semitic Ishtar, and that the “Eyes” figurines were a representation of an all-seeing female deity.

During the pre-Akkadain kingdom’s era, Hazna, an old cultic center of northern Syria, served as a pilgrimage center for Nagar. The Eye Temple remained in use, but as a small shrine, while the goddess Belet-Nagar became the kingdom’s paramount deity. The temple of Belet-Nagar is not identified but probably lies beneath the Mitannian palace. The Eblaite deity Kura was also venerated in Nagar, and the monarchs are attested visiting the temple of the Semitic deity Dagon in Tuttul.

During the Akkadian period, the temple in area FS was dedicated to the Sumerian god Shakkan, the patron of animals and countrysides. Tell Brak was an important religious Hurrian center, and the temple of Belet-Nagar retained its cultic importance in the entire region until the early second millennium BC.

Voices of the Dead: The Strange Origins of Eye Idols

An In-Depth Study of the Tell Brak Eye Idols in the 4th Millennium BCE: with a primary focus on function and meaning

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