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ARCH 21908: Archaeology of the Ancient Near East : Pottery Neolithic (PN) and Chalcolithic

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Pottery Neolithic (PN) and Chalcolithic

Together, the Pottery Neolithic (around 6,400 and 4,500 BCE) and the Chalcolithic period (around 4,500 and 3,200 BCE) were a period of great social, economic, and political upheaval. PN saw the migration of the first people from the mountains to the low-elevation alluvial flatland of Mesopotamia. In PN, particularly in the Halaf culture, we see the beginning of life in larger towns, larger scale and more intensive agricultural production and an increase in the number of people, all of which marked the beginning of social complexity, notably a specialized division of labor and social stratification. Social complexity reached its apex in the first city in the Chalcolithic period, most notably al-Warqa of Uruk culture. It is in these periods that we see the emergence of large-scale manufacture of hand-made and wheel-made pottery as a new technological innovation.

Key Sites

Al-Warqa (Iraq)

Eridu (Iraq)

Tel es-Sawan (Iraq)

Tell Brak (Syria)

Tel Halaf (Syria)

Tell Hassuna (Iraq)     

Tell Zeidan (Syria)

Key Citations

Algaze, Guillermo

2001  Initial Social Complexity in Southwestern Asia: The Mesopotamian Advantage. Current Anthropology 42(2):199–233. DOI:10.1086/320005.

Asher-Greve, Julia M.

2013  Women and Agency: A Survey From Late Uruk to the End of Ur III. In The Sumerian World, pp. 359–378. Routledge, Abingdon.

Campbell, Stuart

1992  Culture, Chronology and Change in the Later Neolithic of North Mesopotamia. Univeristy of Ediburgh.

Kwai-Yung Lau, Hannah

2016  Mobility, Cooperation, and Emergent Social Complexity in the Late Neolithic Near East. University of California Los Angeles.

Peterson, Jane

2010 Domesticating gender: Neolithic patterns from the southern Levant. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29(3):249–264. DOI:10.1016/j.jaa.2010.03.002.

Pollock, Susan

1992  Bureaucrats and managers, peasants and pastoralists, imperialists and traders: Research on the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods in Mesopotamia. Journal of World Prehistory 6(3):297–336. DOI:10.1007/BF00980430.

Schwartz, Mark, and David Hollander

2016  The Uruk expansion as dynamic process: A reconstruction of Middle to Late Uruk exchange patterns from bulk stable isotope analyses of bitumen artifacts. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 7:884–899. DOI:10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.01.027.

Stein, Gil J.

2012  The Development of Indigenous Social Complexity in Late Chalcolithic Upper Mesopotamia in the 5th-4th Millenia BC- An Initial Assessment. Origini 34:125–151.