Ubaid - Ancient Civ

Topics: Olmec, La Venta, Mesoamerica Pages: 4 (1161 words) Published: May 2, 2008
Political power, religion, and economy are the three basic components that determine how any type of chiefdom, state, or even empire is to prosper and properly run. Dating back to before 5000 BC the first settlement of Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia used these tools to run a functional community. These traits showed their importance by how they were carried all the way on to the first civilization of Olmec in Mesoamerica. Although the Olmecs revitalized certain aspects of what a perfect political power, religion or economy was, the dominant idea as a whole was repeated.

The complex chiefdom of Ubaid lived under a three-tiered settlement hierarchy, and was small-scaled and family based. Chiefs were found to be generous because they redistributed goods, evidence for this was found by the large storage bins that were located in the t-shaped temples of Eridu. T-shaped temple of Eridu was the center of the Ubaid chiefdom and run by rulers. Nobles were found to be not organizing considering the evidence of small-scale irrigation systems. Ubaid was a theocracy, where political role of leadership was in the hands of the priests (Lamberg-Karlovsky, Sabloff, 1995, pg. 114). The Ubaid temples portrayed religion to be extreme importance in the act of unifying political authority.

The Olmecs believed that the nobles had a greater power to contact with the gods. Vast amounts of monumental stone heads were excavated in San Lorenzo, a hot and humid, watery lowland area found in the gulf coast of the Olmec chiefdom. These colossal stone heads were built on levies of the river system and were carved to portray rulers’ faces. Religion decided who the rulers would be, and common people gave their allegiance to rulers.

La Venta was the largest and most powerful site of the Olmec chiefdom, the site was dominated by a ceremonial center where the center of this site was a pyramid, that was considered to be a form of a sacred mountain volcano and faced the...
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