Neolithic Period

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The Neolithic period cultivated important material conditions that directly influenced the formation of large towns, great cities, and states in the later, Uruk period of Mesopotamia. These influences can be seen at the earlier site of Catalhoyuk. As the periods shift between Neolithic and the Uruk, drastic changes can be seen between early egalitarian societies in the Neolithic period, and the more complex and massive societies of the Uruk period. Other material conditions that shaped the complex civilization of Uruk included agricultural, political, religious, trade, new inventions and specializations of jobs. Early evidence at the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk, around the time of 7300 BC in Southwest Asia, foreshadows the emergence of the great and complex society of the state of Uruk. The archaeologist, James Mellaart, discovered and excavated the large site of Catalhoyuk and found evidence that part of its purpose served as a major site for worship of a motherly goddess. Catalhoyuk was situated around streams, which provided a key source of water. Water was an important resource that attracted a large amount of people, within the thousands, to join the community of Catalhoyuk. This community was so large that it could no longer be considered a tribe or village. The community at Catalhoyuk was centered around individual family households that were self-sufficient, who stored their own food and food processing equipment. The people of Catalhoyuk survived off farming and cultivating their own crops and domesticated animals. Mellaart also discovered evidence of large-scale architecture, and burials of people beneath the floors of family households. This evidence leads Mellaart to believe that this community held elaborate belief systems. Uncovering Catalhoyuk’s burial sites showed that selected individuals were those buried beneath the house floors, suggesting a type of individual importance or hierarchy of kinship over others. There is also evidence that the civilization at Catalhoyuk came up with a type of text with symbolic representations that shows “that social life extended well beyond the everyday demands of obtaining and processing food (Human Past. Pg. 217).” The site of Catalhoyuk was a great influence on later complex civilizations, such as the state of Uruk. The period following the large Neolithic settlement of Catalhoyuk was a period of a complex society. This civilization prospered from great wealth of material goods, agriculture, complex economic system, and trade. The first great city of civilization, Uruk, supported an estimate of 25,000 people during the time of 3500-3100 BC. Uruk was positioned beside the Euphrates River, a key component that allowed Uruk to be established as a great state. Around the later time of the Jemdet Nasr Period in 3100 to 2900BC, access to the Euphrates resulted in the invention of irrigation canals. These canals provided easier, and more direct access to water for crops and livestock, allowing the production of food to increase in an arid climate. The increase and surplus of food production gave way to population growth, and allowed for more opportunity for specialized craftsmen to focus on other areas of expertise. The invention of irrigation canals was an important aspect of Uruk state success. The surplus of food enabled people during this time to become more specialized in areas of art, pottery, stone making, and architecture. The architecture during the Uruk period reached a monumental level. Great temples were built for places of worship, and built to impress the public as well as serve for public use. Key temple sites that excavators found at Uruk were the Anu temple, which was built to worship the sky God An, as well as the Eanna precinct, which was the place of worship for the Goddess of war and love, Inanna. The Warka Vase artifact found at the Uruk site provided a great representation of the elaborate and professional level of art that artisans of Uruk also...
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