In Asia Minor and Mesopotamia by 10,000 BC, people
had long since abandoned cave dwelling. Many remained hunter-gatherers,
but some had abandoned a migratory way of life in favour of living in
the earliest permanent settlements amidst the prevailing hunter-gatherer
However, while some of these settled locations such
as Gobekli Tepe in Asia Minor were being abandoned by 8000 BC, those
in Mesopotamia continued to thrive.
Mesopotamian prehistoric civilisation
People were utilising and storing a wide range of
natural resources in favoured areas of what is now northern Iraq.
Between 8000 to 7000 BC, the first evidence of
domesticated grains (wheat and barley) and animals (sheep, goat, pig,
and cattle) could be found at Jarmo, and baked clay female figures
were being made at Mureybit.
By the end of this period, plastered semi-subterranean
houses anticipated the development of mud brick, sun-dried clay as
the main building material throughout later Mesopotamian history, and
the earliest pottery was made and used for the preparing, serving, and
storing of food.
The grinding and working of fine stone vessels and
statuettes, particularly the styles named after the sites of Samarra
and Halaf, was well established by 6000 BC.
Clay impressions of carved stamp seals were being
made at Sabi Abyad in north-eastern Syria.
These seals, originally applied to a variety of
containers to signify ownership, or responsibility for property,
are thought to indicate some measure of early administrative control.
There is also evidence for the exchange of goods over thousands of
Agricultural settlements of the Halaf period, at
around 5500 BC, extended all across north Mesopotamia. Many
resemblances between them indicate a shared culture and social
Their most distinctive feature, a painted pottery
of outstanding quality, was manufactured at many different centres.
Little is known of south Mesopotamia before 5500
BC, but some centuries later the influence of the southern Ubaid
culture, characterised by its distinctive painted pottery made on a
slow wheel, extended throughout the north.
Hand-made pottery in the Samarra style was being made within
the period 6000-5500 BC in central Iraq (click on image to
view full sized)