Odisha State Board CHSE Odisha Class 11 History Solutions Unit 1 Early Societies Long Answer Questions.
CHSE Odisha 11th Class History Unit 1 Early Societies Long Answer Questions
Long Questions With Answers
Describe the classification of early humans.
The remains of early humans have been classified into different species. These are often distinguished from one another on the basis of differences in bone structure. For instance, species of early humans are differentiated in terms of their skull size and distinctive jaws. These characteristics may have evolved due to what has been called the positive feedback mechanism.
For example, bipedaliSm enabled hands to be freed for carrying infants or objects. In turn, as hands were used more and more, upright walking gradually became more efficient. Apart from the advantage of freeing hands for various uses, far less energy is consumed while walking as compared to the movement of a quadruped.
However, the advantage in terms of saving energy is reversed while running. There is indirect evidence of bipedalism as early as 3.6 mya. This comes from the fossilised hominid footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania. Fossil limb bones recovered from Hadar, Ethiopia provides more direct evidence of bipedalism.
With the onset of a phase of glaciation (or an Ice Age), when large parts of the earth were covered with snow, there were major changes in climate and vegetation. Due to the reduction in temperatures as well as rainfall, grassland areas expanded at the expense of forests, leading to the gradual extinction of the early forms of Australopithecus (that were adapted to forests) and the replacement by species that were better adapted to the drier conditions.
Among these were the earliest representatives of the genus Homo. Homo is a Latin word, meaning ‘man’, although there were women as well. Scientists distinguish amongst several types of Homo. The names assigned to these species are derived from what is regarded as their typical characteristics.
So fossils are classified as Homo hails (the toolmaker), Homo erectus (the upright man), and Homo sapiens (the wise or thinking man). Fossils of Homo habilis have been discovered at Omo in Ethiopia and at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The earliest fossils of Homo erectus have been found both in Africa and Asia: Koobi Fora, west Turkana, Kenya, Modjokerto and Sangiran, Java.
As the finds in Asia belong to a later date than those in Africa, it is likely that hominids migrated from East Africa to southern aid northern Africa, to southern and north-eastern Asia, and perhaps to Europe, sometime between 2 and 1.5 mya. This species survived for nearly a million years.
In some instances, the names of fossils are derived from the places where the first fossils of a particular type were found. So fossils found in Heidelberg, a city in Germany, were called Homo heidelbergensis, while those found in the Neander valley were categorised as Homo neanderthalensis. The earliest fossils from Europe are of Homo heidelbergensis and Homo neanderthalensis.
Both belong to the species of archaic (that is, old) Homo sapiens. The fossils of Homo heidelbergensis (0.8-0.1 mya) have a wide distribution, having been found in Africa, Asia and Europe. The Neanderthals occupied Europe and western and Central Asia from roughly 130,000 to 35,000 years ago. They disappeared abruptly in Western Europe around 35,000 years ago.
In general, compared with Australopithecus, Homo have a larger brain, jaws with a reduced outward protrusion and smaller teeth. An increase in brain size is associated with more intelligence and better memory. The changes in the jaws and teeth were probably related to differences in dietary habits.
How early did humans obtain their food?
Early humans would have obtained food in a number of ways, such as gathering, hunting, scavenging and fishing. The gathering would involve collecting plant foods such as seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and tubers. That gathering was practised is generally assumed rather than conclusively established, as there is very little direct evidence for it.
While we get a fair amount of fossil bones, fossilised plant remains are relatively rare. The only other way of getting information about plant intake would be if plant remains were accidentally burnt. This process results in carbonisation. In this form, organic matter is preserved for a long span of time. However, so far archaeologists have not found much evidence of carbonised seeds for this very early period.
In recent years, the term hunting has been under discussion by scholars. Increasingly, it is being suggested that the early hominids scavenged or foraged for meat and marrow from the carcasses of animals that had died naturally or had been killed by other predators. It is equally possible that small mammals such as rodents, birds (and their eggs), reptiles and even insects (such as termites) were eaten by early hominids.
Hunting probably began later – about 5000 years ago. The earliest clear evidence for the deliberate, planned hunting and butchery of large mammals comes from two sites: Boxgrove in southern England (500,000 years ago) and Schoningen in Germany (400,000 years ago) Fishing was also important, as is evident from the discovery of fish bones at different sites.
Fishing was also important, as is evident from the discovery of fish bones at different sites. From about 3 5,000 years ago, there is evidence of planned hunting from some European sites. Some sites, such as (Dolni Vestontee) in the Czech Republic, which was near a river, seem to have been deliberately chosen by early people.
Herds of migratory animals such as reindeer and horses probably crossed the river during their autumn and spring migrations and were killed on a large scale. The choice of such sites indicates that people knew about the movement of these animals and also about the means of killing large numbers of animals quickly.
How early did humans make their tools?
Birds are known to make objects to assist them with feeding, hygiene and social encounters and while foraging for food some chimpanzees use tools that they have made. However, there are some features of human tool-making that are not known among apes. As we have seen certain anatomical and neurological (related to the nervous system) adaptations have led to the skilled use of hands, probably due to the important role of tools in human lives.
Moreover, the ways in which humans use and make tools often require greater memory and complex organisational skills, both of which are absent in apes. The earliest evidence for the making and use of stone tools comes from sites in Ethiopia and Kenya. It is likely that the earliest stone tool makers were the Australopithecus.
As in the case of other activities, we do not know whether tool-making was done by men or women or both. It is possible that stone toolmakers were both women and men. Women in particular may have made and used tools to obtain food for themselves as well as to sustain their children after weaning.
About 35,000 years ago, improvements in the techniques for killing animals are evident from the appearance of new kinds of tools such as spear-throwers and the bow and arrow. The meat thus obtained was probably by drying, smoking and storage. Thus, food processed by removing the bones followed and could be stored for later consumption.
There were other changes, such as the trapping of fur-bearing animals (to use the fur’ for clothing) and the invention of sewing needles. The earliest evidence of sewn clothing comes from about 21,000 years ago. Besides, with the introduction of the punch blade technique to make small chisel-like tools, it was now possible to make engravings on bone, antler, ivory or wood.
What was the way people communicates in early times?
Among living beings, it is humans alone that have a language. There are several views on language development:
- that hominid language involved gestures or hand movements
- that spoken language was preceded, by vocal but non-verbal communication such as singing or humming
- that human speech probably began with calls like the ones that have been observed among primates.
Humans may have possessed a small number of speech sounds in the initial stage. Gradually, these may have developed into language. It has been suggested that the brain of Homo habilis had certain features which would have made it possible for them to speak. Thus, language may have developed as early as 2 mya.
The evolution of the vocal tract was equally important. This occurred around 2000 years ago. It is more specifically associated with modem humans. A third suggestion is that language developed around the same time as art, that is, around 40,000-35,000 years ago. The development of spoken language has been seen as closely connected with art since both are media for communication.
Hundreds of paintings of animals (done between 30,000 and 12,000 years ago) have been discovered in the caves of Lascaux and Chauvet, both in France and Altamira, in Spain. These include depictions of bison, horses, ibex, deer, mammoths, rhinos, lions, bears, panthers, hyenas and owls. More questions have been raised than answered regarding these paintings.
For example, why do some areas of caves have paintings and not others? Why were some animals painted and not others? Why were men painted both individually and in groups, whereas women were depicted only in groups? Why were men painted near animals but never women? Why were groups of animals painted in the sections of caves where sounds carried well? Several explanations have been offered.
One is that because of the importance of hunting, the paintings of animals were associated with ritual and magic. The act of painting could have been a ritual to ensure a successful hunt. Another explanation offered is that these caves were possibly meeting places for small groups of people or locations for group activities.
These groups could share hunting techniques and knowledge, while paintings and engravings served as the media for passing information from one generation to the next. The above account of early societies has been based on archaeological evidence. Clearly, there is much that we still do not know. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, hunter-gatherer societies exist even today.
Who is known as the hunter-gather society in early times?
African pastoral group about its initial contact in 1870 with the Kung an, a hunter-gatherer society living in the Kalahari desert:
When we first came into this area, all we saw were strange footprints in the sand. We wondered what kind of people these were. They were very afraid of us and would hide whenever we came around.
We found their villages, but they were always empty because as soon as they saw strangers coming, they would scatter and hide in the bush. We said: ‘Oh, this is good; these people are afraid of us, they are weak and we can easily rule over them.’ So we just ruled them. There was no killing or fighting. You will read more about encounters with hunter-gatherers in Themes 8 and 10.
Who are the Hadza?
The Hadza are a small group of hunters and gatherers, living in the vicinity of Lake Eyasi, a salt, rift-valley lake. The country of the eastern Hadza, dry, rocky savanna, dominated by thorn scrub and acacia trees is rich in wild foods. Animals are exceptionally numerous and were certainly commoner at the beginning of the century.
Elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, giraffes, zebra, waterbuck, gazelle, warthog, baboon, lion, leopards, and hyenas are all common, as are smaller animals such as porcupines, hares, jackals, tortoises and many others. All of these animals, apart from the elephant, are hunted and eaten by the Hadza.
The amount of meat that could be regularly eaten without endangering the future of the game is probably greater than anywhere else in the world were hunters and gatherers live or have lived in the recent past. Vegetable food – roots, berries, the fruit of the baobab tree, etc. – though not often obvious to the casual observer, is always abundant even at the height of the dry season in a year of drought.
The type of vegetable food available is different in the six-month wet season from the dry season but there is no period of shortage. The honey and grubs of seven species of wild bees are eaten supplies of these vary from season to season and from year to year. Sources of water are widely distributed over the country in the wet season but are very few in the dry season.
The Hadza consider that about 5-6 kilometres are the maximum distance over which water can reasonably be carried and camps are normally sited within a kilometre of a water course. Part of the country consists of open grass plains but the Hadza never build camps there. Camps are invariably sited among trees or rocks and, by preference, among both.
The eastern Hadza assert no rights over land and its resources. Any individual may live wherever he likes and may hunt animals, collect roots, berries, and honey and draw water anywhere in Hadza country without any sort of restriction. In spite of the exceptional numbers of game animals in their area, the Hadza rely mainly on the wild vegetable matter for their food.
Probably as much as 80 per cent of their food by weight is vegetable, while meat and honey together account for the remaining 20 per cent. Camps are commonly small and widely dispersed in the wet season, large and concentrated near the few available sources of water in the dry season. There is never any shortage of food even in times of drought.
Discuss the Hunter-Gatherer Societies from the present to the past.
As our knowledge of present-day hunter-gatherers increased through studies by anthropologists, a question that began to be posed was whether the information about living hunters and gatherers could be used to understand past societies. Currently, there are two opposing views on this issue.
On one side are scholars who have directly applied specific data from present-day hunter-gatherer societies to interpret the archaeological remains of the past. For example, some archaeologists have suggested that the hominids, sites, dating to 2 mya, along the margins of Lake Turkana could have been dry season camps of early humans, because such a practice has been observed among the Hadza and the Kung San.
On the other side are scholars who feel that ethnographic data cannot be used for understanding past societies as the two are totally different. For instance, present-day hunter-gatherer societies pursue several other economic activities along with hunting and gathering. These include engaging in exchange and trade in minor forest produce or working as paid labourers in the fields of neighbouring farmers.
Moreover, these societies are totally marginalised in all senses -geographically, politically and socially. The conditions in which they live are very different from those of early humans. Another problem is that there is a tremendous variation amongst living hunter-gatherer societies. There are conflicting data on many issues such as the relative importance of hunting and gathering, group sizes, or the movement from place to place.
Also, there is little consensus regarding the division of labour in food procurement. Although today generally women gather and men hunt, there are societies where both women and men hunt and gather and make tools. In any case, the important role of women in contributing to the food supply in such societies cannot be denied.
It is perhaps this factor that ensures a relatively equal role for both women and men in present-day hunter-gatherer societies, although there are variations. While this may be the case today, it is difficult to make any such inference from the past.
How farming has started in early times?
For several million years, humans lived by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plants. Then, between 10,000 and 4,500 years ago, people in different parts of the world learnt to domesticate certain plants and animals. This led to the development of farming and pastoralism as a way of life. The shift from foraging to fanning was a major turning point in human history.
Why did this change take place at this point in time? The last ice age came to an end about 130 years ago and with that warmer, wetter conditions prevailed. As a result, conditions were favourable for the growth of grasses such as wild barley and wheat. At the same time, as open forests and grasslands expanded, the population of certain animal species such as wild sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and donkeys increased.
What we find is that human societies began to gradually prefer areas that had an abundance of wild grasses and animals. Now relatively large, permanent communities occupied such areas for most parts of the year. With some areas being clearly preferred, pressure may have built up to increase the food supply. This may Have triggered the process of domestication of certain plants and animals.
It is likely that a combination of factors which included climatic change, population pressure, a greater reliance on and knowledge of a few species of plants (such as wheat, barley, rice and millet) and animals (such as sheep, goat, cattle, donkey and pig) played a role in this transformation.
One such area Where farming and pastoralism began around 10,00t) years ago was the Fertile Crescent, extending from the Mediterranean coast to the Zagros mountains in Iran. With the introduction of agriculture, more people began to stay in one place for even longer periods than they had done before. Thus permanent houses began to be built of mud, mud bricks and even stone. These are some of the earliest villages known to archaeologists.
Farming and pastoralism led to the introduction of many other changes such as the making of pots in which to store grain and other produce and to cook food. Besides, new kinds of stone tools came into use. Other new tools such as the plough were used in agriculture. Gradually, people became familiar with metals such as copper and tin. The wheel, important for both pot making and transportation, came into use.
Discuss Mesopotamia and its Geography.
Iraq is left of diverse environments. In the northeast lie green, undulating plains, gradually rising to tree-covered mountain ranges with clear streams and wildflowers, with enough rainfall to grow crops. Here, agriculture began between 7000 and 6000 BCE. In the north, there is a stretch of upland called a steppe, where animal herding offers people a better livelihood than agriculture – after the winter rains, sheep and goats feed on the grasses and low shrubs that grow here.
To the east, tributaries of the Tigris provide routes of communication into the mountains of Iran. The south is a desert – and this is where the first cities and writing emerged (see below). This desert could support cities because the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, which rise in the northern mountains, carry loads of silt (fine mud).
When they flood or when their water is let out onto the fields, fertile silt is deposited. After the Euphrates has entered the desert, its water flows out into small channels. These channels flood their banks and, in the past, functioned as irrigation canals: water could be let into the fields of wheat, barley, peas or lentils when necessary.
Of all ancient systems, that of the Roman Empire (Theme 3) included, it was the agriculture of southern Mesopotamia that was the most productive, even though the region did not have sufficient rainfall to grow crops. Not only agriculture but Mesopotamian sheep and goats also grazed on the steppe, the northeastern plains and the mountain slopes (that is, on tracts too high for the rivers to flood and fertilise).
Produced meat, milk and wool in abundance, Further, fish was available in rivers and date palms gave fruit in summer. Let us not, however, make the mistake of thinking that cities grew simply because of rural prosperity. We shall discuss other factors by and by, but first, let us be clear about city life.
How the development of writing takes place in Mesopotamia civilizations?
All societies have languages in which certain spoken sounds convey certain meanings. This is verbal communication. Writing too is verbal communication – but in a different way. When we talk about writing or a script, we mean that spoken sounds are represented in visible signs. The first Mesopotamian tablets, written around 3200 BCE, contained picture-like signs and numbers.
These were about 5,000 lists of oxen, fish, bread loaves, etc. lists of goods that were brought into or distributed from the temples of Uruk, a city in the south. Clearly, writing began when society needed to keep records of transactions because in city life transactions occurred at different times and involved many people and a variety of goods.
Mesopotamians wrote on tablets of clay. A scribe would wet clay and pat it into a size he could hold comfortably in one hand. He would carefully smoothen its surfaces. With the sharp end of the agreed cut obliquely, he would press wedge-shaped cuneiform signs onto the smoothened surface while it was still moist.
Once dried in the sun, the clay would harden and tablets would be almost as indestructible as pottery. When a written record of, say, the delivery of pieces of metal had ceased to be relevant, the tablet was thrown away. Once the surface dried, signs could not be pressed onto a tablet: so each transaction, however minor, required a separate written tablet.
This is why tablets occur by the hundreds at Mesopotamian sites. And it is because of this wealth of sources that we know so much more about Mesopotamia than we do about contemporary India. By 2600 BCE or so, the letters became cuneiform and the language was Sumerian.
The writing was now used not only for keeping records, but also for making dictionaries, giving legal validity to land transfers, narrating the deeds of kings, and announcing the changes a king had made in the customary laws of the land. Sumerian, the earliest known language of Mesopotamia, was gradually replaced after 2400 BCE by the Akkadian language. Cuneiform writing in the Akkadian language continued in use until the first century CE, that is, for more than 2,000 years.
Discuss the temples and kings in Mesopotamia as a civilization.
Early settlers (their origins are unknown) began to build and rebuild temples at selected spots in their villages. The earliest known temple was a small shrine made of unbaked bricks. Temples were the residences of various gods of the Moon God of Ur, or of manna the Goddess of Love and War.
Constructed in brick, temples became larger over time, with Several rooms around open courtyards. Some of the early ones were possibly not unlike the ordinary house for the temple was the house of a god. But temples always had their outer walls going in and out at regular intervals, which no ordinary building ever did.
The god was the focus of worship to his or her people and brought grain, curd and fish (the floors of some early temples had thick layers of fish bones). The god was also the theoretical owner of the agricultural fields, the fisheries, and the herds of the local community. In time, the processing of produce (for example, oil pressing, grain grinding, spinning, and the weaving of woollen cloth) was also done in the temple.
The organiser of production at a level above the household, employer of merchants and keeper of written records of distributions and allotments of grain, plough animals, bread, beer, fish, etc., the temple gradually developed its activities and became the main urban institution.
What is a family system in Mesopotamia civilization?
In Mesopotamian society, the nuclear family was the norm, although a married son and his family often resided with his parents. The father was the head ofthe family. We know a little about the procedures for marriage. A declaration was made about the willingness to marry, and the bride’s parents gave their consent to the marriage.
Then a gift was given by the groom’s people to the bride’s people. When the wedding took place, gifts were exchanged by both parties, who ate together and made offerings in a temple. When her mother-in-law came to fetch her, the bride was given her share of the inheritance by her father. The father’s house, herds, fields, etc., were inherited by the sons.
Abstract Archaeologists have made attempts to reconstruct the lives of early people to find out about the shelters in which they lived, the food they ate by gathering plant produce and hunting animals, and the ways in which they expressed themselves. Other important developments include the use of fire and of language.
And, finally, you will see whether the lives of people who live by hunting and gathering today can help us to understand the past. The second theme deals with some of the earliest cities of Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq. These cities developed around temples and were centres of long-distance trade.
Archaeological evidence remains of old settlements and an abundance of written material are used to reconstruct the lives of the different people who lived there craftspeople, scribes, labourers, priests, kings and queens. You will notice how pastoral people played an important role in some of these towns.
A question to think about is whether the many activities that went on in cities would have been possible if the writing had not developed. You may wonder how people who for millions of years had lived in forests, in caves or in temporary shelters began to eventually live in villages and cities.
Well, the story is a long one and is related to several developments that took place at least 5,000 years before the establishment ofthe first cities. One ofthe most far-reaching changes was the gradual shift from nomadic life to settled agriculture, which began around 10,000 years ago. As you will see in Theme 1, prior to the adoption of agriculture, people gathered plants to produce as a source of food.
Slowly, they learnt more about different kinds of plants – where they grew, the seasons when they bore fruit and so on. From this, they learnt to grow plants. In West Asia, wheat and barley, peas and various kinds of pulses were grown. In East and Southeast Asia, the crops that grew easily were millet and rice. Millet was also grown in Africa.
Around the same time, people learnt how to domesticate animals such as sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and donkeys. Plant fibres such as cotton and flax and animal fibres such as wool were now woven into cloth. Somewhat later, about 5,000 years ago, domesticated animals such as cattle and donkeys were harnessed to ploughs and carts.
These developments led to other changes as well. When people grew crops, they had to stay in the same place till the crops ripened. So, settled life became more common. And with that, people built more permanent structures in which to live. This was also the time when some communities learnt how to make earthen pots.
These were used to store grain and other produce, and to prepare and cook a variety of foods made from the new grains that were cultivated. In fact, a great deal of attention was given to processing foods to make them tasty and digestible. The way stone tools were made also changed.
While earlier methods of making tools continued, some tools and equipment were now smoothened and polished by an elaborate process of grinding. New equipment included mortars and pestles for preparing grain, as well as stone axes and hoes, which were used to clear land for cultivation, as well as for digging the earth to sow seeds.
In some areas, people learnt to tap the ores of metals such as copper and tin. Sometimes, copper ores were collected and used for their distinctive bluish-green colour. This prepared the way for the more extensive use of metal for jewellery and for tools subsequently. There was also a growing familiarity with other kinds of produce from distant lands (and seas).
This included wood, stones, including precious and semi-precious stones, metals and shells, and hardened volcanic lava. Clearly, people were going from place to place, carrying goods and ideas with them. With increasing trade, the growth of villages and towns, and the movements of people, in place of the small communities of early people there now grew small states.
While these changes took place slowly, over several thousand years, the pace quickened with the growth of the first cities. Also, the changes had far-reaching consequences. Some scholars have, described this as a revolution, as the lives of people were probably transformed beyond recognition.
Look out for continuities and changes as you explore these two contrasting themes in early history. Remember too, that we have selected only some examples of early societies for detailed study. There were other kinds of early societies, including farming communities and pastoral peoples. And there were other peoples who were hunter-gatherers as well as city dwellers, apart from the examples selected.
Peopling Of The World
|5-1||Sub-Saharan Africa||Australopithecus, early Homo, Homo erectus|
|1 mya-40,000 years ago||Africa, Asia and Europe in mid-latitudes||Homo erectus, archaic Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, Homo sapiens sapiens /modern humans|
|45,000 years ago||Australia||Modern Humans|
|40,000 years ago to present||Europe in high latitudes and Asia- Pacific islands
North and South America in deserts, rainforests
|Late Neanderthals, modern humans|
|The Earliest Fossils Of Modern Humans|
|Where||When (Years Ago)|
Dar es Saltan
near Les Eyzles
Monkeys in Asia and Africa
|24 mya||(Superfamily) Hominoids;
Gibbons, Asian orang-utan and African apes (gorilla, chimpanzee and bonobo or ‘pygmy’ chimpanzee)
|6.4 mya||Branching out of hominoids and hominids|
|2.6-2.5||Earliest stone tools|
|2.5-2.0||Cooling and drying of Africa, resulting in a decrease in woodlands and an increase in grasslands|
|1.8 mya||Homo erectus|
|1.3 mya||Extinction of Australopithecus|
|0.8 mya||‘Archatic’ sapiens, Homo heidelbergensis|
|0.19-0.16 mya||Homo sapiens sapiens (modem humans)|
|Timeline 2 (years ago)|
|The earliest evidence of burials||300,00|
|Extinction of Homo erectus||200,000|
|Development of voice box||200,000|
|Archaic Homo sapiens skull in the Narmada valley, India||200,000-130,000|
|The emergence of modem humans||195,000-160,000|
|Emergence of Neanderthals||130,000|
|The earliest evidence of hearths||125,000|
|Extinction of Neanderthals||35,000|
|The earliest evidence of figures made of fired clay||27,000|
|The invention of sewing needles||21,000|
Writing and City Life:
City life began in Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers that is now part of the Republic of Iraq Mesopotamian civilisation is “known for its prosperity, city life, its voluminous and rich literature and Us mathematics and astronomy. Mesopotamia’s writing system and literature spread to the eastern Mediterranean, northern Syria, and Turkey after 2000 BCE, so the kingdoms of that entire region were writing to one another, arid to the Pharaoh of Egypt, in the language and script of Mesopotamia.
Here we shall explore the connection between city life and writing, and then look at some outcomes of a sustained tradition of writing. At the beginning of recorded history, the land, mainly the urbanised south (see discussion below), was called Sumer and Akkad. After 2000 BCE, when Babylon became an important city, the term Babylonia was used for the southern region. From about 1100 BCE, when the Assyrians established their kingdom in the north, the, region became, known as Assyria.
The first known language of the land was Sumerian. It was gradually replaced by Akkadian around 2400 BCE when Akkadian speakers arrived. This language flourished till about Alexander’s-time (316 – 323 BCE)with some regional changes occurring. From 1400 BCE, Aromatic also trickled in. This language, similar to Hebrew, became widely spoken after 1000 BCE. It is still spoken in parts of Iraq.
Excavation Mesopotamian Towns:
Today, Mesopotamian excavators have much higher standards of accuracy and care in recording than in the old days, so few dig huge areas the way Ur was excavated. Moreover, few archaeologists have the funds to employ large teams of excavators. Thus, the mode of obtaining data has changed. Take the small at Abu Salabikh, about 10 hectares in area in 2500 BCE with a population of less than 10,000.
The outlines of walls were first traced by scraping surfaces. This involves scraping off the top few millimetres of the mound with the sharp and wide end of a shovel or other tool. While the soil underneath was still slightly moist, the archaeologist could make out different colours, textures and lines of brick walls or pits or other features. A few houses that were discovered were excavated.
The archaeologists also sieved through tons of earth to recover plant and animal remains and in the process identified many species of plants and animals and found large quantities of charred fish bones that had been swept out onto the streets. Plant seeds and fibre remained after during cakes had been burned as fuel and thus kitchens were identified. Living rooms were those with fewer traces.
Because they’d found the teeth of very young pigs on the streets, archaeologists concluded that pigs must have roamed freely here as in any other Mesopotamian town. In fact, one house burial contained some pig bones – the dead person must have been given some park for his nourishment in the afterlife! The archaeologists also made microscopic studies of room floors to decide which rooms in a house were roofed (with poplar logs, palm leaves, straw, etc.) and which were open to the sky.
|C. 7000-6000 BCE||Beginning of agriculture in the northern Mesopotamian plains.|
|C.5000 BCE||The earliest temples in southern Mesopotamia were built.|
|C. 3000 BCE||First writing in Mesopotamia|
|C. 3000 BCE||Uruk develops into a huge city, increasing the use of bronze tools|
|C. 2700-2500 BCE||Early kings, including, possibly, the legendary male Gilgamesh|
|C. 2600 BCE||Development of the cuneiform script|
|C. 2400 BCE||Replacement of Sumerian by Akkadian|
|C. 370 BCE||Sargon, king of Akkad|
|C. 2000 BCE||Spread of cuneiform writing to Syria, Turkey and Egypt; Mari and Babylon emerge as important urban centres|
|C. 1800 BCE||Mathematical texts composed; Sumerian no longer spoken|
|C. 1100 BCE||Establishment of the Assyrian kingdom|
|C. 1000 BCE||Use of iron|
|720-610 BCE||Assyrian empire|
|668 – 627 BCE||Rule of Assurbanipal|
|331 BCE||Alexander conquers Babylon|
|C. 1st Century CE||Akkadian and cuneiform remain in use|
|1850s||Decipherment of the cuneiform script|