Showing posts with label mesopotamia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mesopotamia. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2013

Factors Contributed to Akkadian Fall

Today’s political strife in Syria parallels events the fall of the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago, according to research published recently.
The Akkadian empire thrived in the third millennium BC, but around 2,200 BC drought hit and people fled from urban centers, leading to collapse of the government. The entire empire faltered amidst calamities referred to as the third-millennium Mesopotamian urban crisis.
According to Scientific American:
Until now, our understanding of the Mesopotamian urban crisis had been based on archaeological studies of ceramic artifacts and changes in the size of archaeological sites along with what we know about farming practices popular at the time. 
But archaeologist Ellery Frahm of the University of Sheffield in the UK and his colleagues used geochemical techniques and rock magnetic analyses to examine trade and the social networks associated with it instead. 
The researchers used electron microscopy and chemical analyses to examine 97 obsidian tools excavated earlier from a site called Tell Mozan, dating from the early Akkadian empire to several centuries after its demise. Located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in northeastern Syria, the site was known as Urkesh in antiquity, and was densely populated at the height of the Akkadian empire.
Parallels exist to the situation in Syria today. "Some archaeologists contend that the Akkadian Empire was brought down by militarism and that violence ended its central economic role in the region, and a governmental collapse is a real possibility in Syria after nearly two years of fighting," Frahm says.

Image is Mesopotamian stela depicting the god Nanna from around 2080 BC.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rare Sumerian Golden Mug Was For Beer

The slender spout on a 4,500-year-old golden beer mug from ancient Mesopotamia was designed to filter out unwanted particles, according to researchers assembling a collection of period artifacts for public display.
The cup is the centerpiece of Melbourne Museum's latest international exhibition, the Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia. The exhibition showcases more than 170 artifacts on loan from the British Museum, charting the history of one of the world's oldest civilizations, dating back as far as 2600 BC.
The cup was recovered from the "death pit" of Queen Puabi in the ancient city of Ur, in modern day Iraq, during an excavation led by archaeologist Leonard Woolley between 1922 and 1934. It was found in the royal cemetery amid precious jewels, musical instruments, containers once laden with food, and other riches.
"This is really rather unique,” British Museum exhibition curator Sarah Collins said. “So far archaeology hasn't uncovered tombs or riches quite like this. It's certainly a very spectacular example of the Sumerians' belief and burial and afterlife practices.
Click here for complete article.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Search Under Way for Mesopotamian Marshands

Euphrates flows through former Mesopotamian desert.

Ancient Sumerian scrolls noted that the first cities humans built between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were constructed on huge marshlands ~ an area today marked only by deserts and scattered settlements.

But below the surface, according to a team of researchers, lie what could be new evidence of the remains of ancient man-made systems and settlements that defined the beginnings of urbanization and the foundations of the great Mesopotamian civilizations that followed.

According to Popular Archaeology:
Preliminary surveys and investigations began last year when a team of three researchers, assistant professor of anthropology Carrie Hritz of Penn State University, Jennifer Pournelle, research assistant professor, School of the Environment, University of South Carolina, and Jennifer Smith, associate professor of geology, Washington University in St. Louis, carried out research of the Tigris-Euphrates delta region to find traces that would help them initiate an exploration of the connection between wetland resources and the emergence of some of the first cities.
They are looking at archaeological sites from the 4th millennium, B.C. up to the Islamic period.
"We were looking for evidence of past marshland and shoreline environments," said Hritz. "I and colleague Dr. Jennifer Pournelle, identified possible features such as possible ancient beach ridges on satellite imagery and were hoping to verify that on the ground. We found some evidence for preserved ancient field systems in the former marshes but were unable to provide a relative date." 
"The early period of settlement is always linked to the development of agriculture." Hritz said at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archaeology on March 31. "Southern Mesopotamia is one of the earliest locations to provide evidence for the importance of irrigation agriculture in the rise of social complexity.”

Click here for the complete article.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mesopotamian Cities Built on Marshland, Not Riverbanks

Artist's conception of the ancient city of Uruk.

An American research team believes ancient Mesopotamian cities such as Uruk and Ur were not necessarily located on the banks of the region’s main rivers, but instead thrived in the lowland marshes fed by the rivers.

“Clearly, the earliest cities were not strung out along rivers like pearls on a strand,” says Dr. Jennifer Pournelle of the University of South Carolina. “Rather, they were spread across the river delta within and along the margins of marshlands.”

Pournelle last fall led the first American archaeological research team to visit Iraq in 25 years. Her group combines excavation records and archaeological site maps with aerial and satellite imagery in order to reconstruct ancient environments. They explored the lowlands of the Tigris-Euphrates river system in southern Iraq.

Most of the previous archaeological data in Iraq was collected from 1900 through the 1950s, when little attention was paid to plants and animals, she said. The environmental contexts for museum objects and architecture were largely undocumented. When recorded at all, they emphasized grain agriculture and domesticated livestock.

Click here for the complete article.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tell Zeidan Holds Clues to Earliest Mesopotamia

Painted Ubaid pot fragments recovered from the Tell Zeidan site.

Archaeologists in northern Syria area researching prehistoric Mesopotamia to better understand what set the stage for the world’s first cities and the invention of writing.

According to the New York Times:
In two seasons of preliminary surveying and digging at the site known as Tell Zeidan, American and Syrian investigators have already uncovered a tantalizing sampling of artifacts from what had been a robust pre-urban settlement on the upper Euphrates River. People occupied the site for two millenniums, until 4000 B.C. ~ a little-known but fateful period of human cultural evolution. 
Scholars say that Tell Zeidan should reveal insights into the Ubaid period ~ from 5500 to 4000 BC ~ when irrigation agriculture became widespread, long-distance trade grew, powerful political leaders arose and communities divided into social classes of wealthy elites and poorer commoners.

Click here for the complete article.