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
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/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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First Cities

The First Cities

Towns and cities have a long history, although opinions vary on which ancient settlement are truly cities. According to Vere Gordon Childe, for a settlement to qualify as a city, it must have enough surplus of raw materials to support trade and a relatively large population.

The conventional view holds that cities first formed after the Neolithic revolution. The Neolithic revolution brought agriculture, which made denser human populations possible, thereby supporting city development. Whether farming immigrants replaced foragers or foragers began farming is not clear. The increased food production per unit of land supported higher population density and more city-like activities.

There is not enough evidence to assert what conditions gave rise to the first cities. Some theorists have speculated on what they consider suitable pre-conditions and basic mechanisms that might have been important driving forces. Cities grow when the benefits of proximity between people and firms are higher than the cost.

The benefits of dense settlement included reduced transport costs, exchange of ideas, sharing of natural resources, large local markets, and in some cases amenities such as running water and sewage disposal. Possible costs would include higher rate of crime, higher mortality rates, higher cost of living, worse pollution, traffic and high commuting times.

The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far. Ur in the Middle Bronze Age is estimated to have had some 65,000 inhabitants; Babylon in the Late Bronze Age similarly had a population of some 50–60,000, while Niniveh had some 20–30,000, reaching 100,000 only in the Iron Age (ca. 700 BC).

Jericho (Arabic: Arīḥā; Hebrew: Yeriḥo) is a Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate, and is governed by the Palestinian National Authority. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346.

It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and the city with the oldest known protective wall in the world. Copious springs in and around the city have attracted human habitation for thousands of years. Jericho is described in the Hebrew Bible as the “city of palm trees”.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history.

It was thought to have the oldest stone tower in the world as well, but excavations at Tell Qaramel, a tell, or archaeological mound, located in the north of present-day Syria, 25 km north of Aleppo and about 65 km south of the Taurus mountains, adjacent to the river Quweiq that flows to Aleppo, have discovered stone towers that are even older.

The earliest phase has been carbon-dated to between the eleventh millennium and 9670 BC. This dating makes the structure roughly two millennia older than the stone tower found at Jericho, which was previously believed to be the oldest known tower structure in the world.

Before the excavations began, it was assumed that permanent sedentary settlements would occur only in combination with the first farming of cereals, and the first domestication and keeping of animals such as sheep and goats, marking the start of the Neolithic period, part of a transition between the proto-Neolithic and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A cultures.

However the remains of the structures uncovered at Tell Qaramel appear to be older than this, giving the first evidence of permanent stone-built settlement. The site is roughly contemporary to that of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.

Remains of 20 individuals have been excavated, all adults: this may indicate that burial practice for infants and children was different, at another (as yet undiscovered) location or treated with less regard. Most bodies had their head removed, either by cutting shortly after dead (as indicated by cut marks, and having the 1st vertebra remain with the skull), or after decay (leaving the vertebrae and lower mandible with the skeleton).

This indicates a head cult, as is also attested in other pre-pottery Neolithic sites (notably Jericho, Tell Aswad, and Cayonu). While in some skulls teeth showed wear and caries, which is typical for a diet with carbohydrates like from grain, others were in good condition, which may indicate a pre-Neolithic diet.

The excavators find an unbroken development (in contrast to e.g. in Jericho in the southern Levant) so are skeptical about the common division in “Pre-Pottery Neolithic A” and “Pre-Pottery Neolithic B” phases, instead preferring “Early Aceramic Neolithic” for the proto-neolithic and PPNA, and “Late Aceramic Neolithic” for PPNB and PPNC.

Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. It was a big centre of obsidian production. Other contemporary early sites in this area are Chagar Bazar, Tell Arbid, and the multi-period site of Tell Brak.

The city flourished before the invention of writing. It also featured specialization of labor. The early settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BCE, and it existed simultaneously with the Ubaid and the early Uruk cultures.

It is now believed that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer. In the 3rd millennium, this was one of the largest cities of Northern Mesopotamia, and extended to 105 ha.

The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.

In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

Uruk, one of Sumer’s largest cities, has been estimated to have had a population of 50,000–80,000 at its height; given the other cities in Sumer, and the large agricultural population, a rough estimate for Sumer’s population might be 0.8 million to 1.5 million. The world population at this time has been estimated at about 27 million.

In Akkadian and Hittite orthography, URU became a determinative sign denoting a city, or combined with KUR “land” the kingdom or territory controlled by a city, e.g. LUGAL KUR URUHa-at-ti translates “the king of the country of (the city of) Hatti”.

The Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, also known as the Tripolye culture, is a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture (c. 5500 to 2750 BC) of Eastern Europe. It extended from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions, centred on modern-day Moldova and covering substantial parts of western Ukraine and northeastern Romania, encompassing an area of 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi), with a diameter of 500 km (300 mi; roughly from Kyiv in the northeast to Brașov in the southwest).

The majority of Cucuteni–Trypillia settlements consisted of high-density, small settlements (spaced 3 to 4 kilometres apart), concentrated mainly in the Siret, Prut and Dniester river valleys. During the Middle Trypillia phase (c. 4000 to 3500 BC), populations belonging to the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture built the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe, some of which contained as many as 3,000 structures and were possibly inhabited by 20,000 to 46,000 people.

History of the city

City-state

Short chronology timeline

List of oldest continuously inhabited cities

Urban history

Historical cities

List of largest cities throughout history

Cities of the ancient Near East

Lower Mesopotamia

(ordered from north to south)

Upper Mesopotamia

(ordered from north to south)

Zagros and Elam

(ordered from north to south)

Anatolia

(ordered from north to south)

The Levant

(all ordered alphabetically)

Arabian Peninsula

Kush and Ethiopia

 
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