The Samarra culture (6000-5500 BC) was the second of the
early Neolithic cultures which led ultimately to the creation of
civilisation in Mesopotamia.
Contemporary with the Hassuna, it was based farther
south in the mid-Tigris region, although there was a
good deal of overlapping in the heartland of central Mesopotamia.
Many Samarra settlements were
located beyond the limits of the rain-fed zone, and it was in these
areas that simple irrigation techniques, essential for successful
agriculture, were first developed.
Farming gradually spread southwards towards the "neck" of
Mesopotamia, along with the people who had developed this knowledge.
They were perhaps a combination of recent immigrants and a possible low density population of foragers who were
already there and who began to adopt agriculture. This area had less rainfall, so
the development of irrigation became necessary in order to
consistently produce quantities of food.
Farming was based at least partially on this new idea of irrigation in a region
which in general was too dry for reliable farming without it. With
it, they were able to cultivate at least one crop that would not
have flourished at all in the region. In the non-irrigated areas they
were able to produce flax (linseed) for the fibres used to make linen cloth.
Sites have been found in the areas where natural flooding could most easily
be channelled and drained. These line up along contour
lines, implying the creation and use of canals for irrigation, which
itself suggests an intensification of farming since it had moved
down from the rain-fed foothills.
Such activity encouraged more investment in the land, a greater
sense of permanence, and the possibility of land
ownership. It also left villages with a greater vulnerability to
attack so that they might have required some level of defence.
Subsistence was based on cultivated wheat (emmer and bread wheat)
and barley. The settlers kept sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle, and there was
some fishing and shellfish gathering from the Tigris. Hunting and wild plant foods
were also important, but agriculture had a
All this effort required a greater need for coordinated work and
conflict resolution, but this can still occur in relatively small-scale societies,
without any strong individual leadership or complex social