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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Plastered human skulls

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on January 15, 2020

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Plastered human skulls are reconstructed human skulls that were made in the ancient the ancient Near East in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period ca. 8,800–6,500 BC. The plastered skulls represent some of the earliest forms of burial practices in the area.

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.

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.

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. The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing.

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.

Sites from this period utilizing rectangular floor plans and plastered floor techniques were found at Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley), Ain Ghazal, Yiftahel (western Galilee), and Abu Hureyra (Upper Euphrates).

White Ware was commonly found in PPNB archaeological sites in Syria such as Tell Aswad, Tell Abu Hureyra, Bouqras and El Kowm. Similar sherds were excavated at Ain Ghazal in northern Jordan.

White pozzolanic ware from Tell Ramad and Ras Shamra is considered to be a local imitation of these limestone vessels. It was also evident in the earliest neolithic periods of Byblos, Hashbai, Labweh, Tell Jisr and Tell Neba’a Faour in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon.

It has been noted that this type of pottery was more prevalent and dated earlier in the Beqaa than at Byblos. A mixed form was found at Byblos where the clay was coated in a limestone slip, in both plain and shell combed finishes.

The similarities of White Ware and overlapping time periods with later clay firing methods have suggested that Dark Faced Burnished Ware (DFBW), the first real pottery, came as a development from this limestone prototype.

DFBW is the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world. It was produced after the earliest examples from the independent phenomenon of the Jōmon culture in Japan and is predominantly found at archaeological sites in Lebanon, Israel southwest Syria and Cyprus.

Some notable examples were found at Tell Judaidah (and nearby Tell Dhahab) in Amuq by Robert Braidwood as well as at Ras Shamra and Tell Boueid. Other finds have been made at Yumuktepe in Mersin, Turkey where comparative studies were made defining different categories of ware that have been generally grouped as DFBW.

During this period the deceased were often buried under the floors of their homes. Sometimes the skull was removed, and its cavities filled with plaster and painted. In order to create more lifelike faces, shells were inset for eyes, and paint was used to represent facial features, hair, and moustaches.

Some scholars believe that this burial practice represents an early form of ancestor worship, where the plastered skulls were used to commemorate and respect family ancestors. Other experts argue that the plastered skulls could be linked to the practice of head hunting, and used as trophies.

They represent some of the oldest forms of art and religious practice in the ancient Near East.and demonstrate that the prehistoric population took great care in burying their ancestors below their homes. The skulls denote some of the earliest sculptural examples of portraiture in the history of art.

Yiftahel is an archaeological site located in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel. The best known periods of occupation are the Early Bronze Age I and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. In the Early Bronze Age village ca. 20 oval and rounded structures were uncovered. This is regarded as the most typical village of its period in the southern Levant.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic B village is characterized by rectangular architecture and plastered floors of burnt limestone. One of the most important processes underway during the Neolithic period was the shift from a hunter-gatherer economy to early agriculture.

The finds from Yiftahel shed light on the domestication of both animals and plants. Yiftahel produced over 1,000,000 lentils, an enormous quantity, clearly indicating controlled cultivation. The most important agricultural finding here, however, is the earliest appearance of domesticated horsebean seeds.

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