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Ubaid period
""Map Ubaid culture-en.svg
Geographical range "Mesopotamia
Period "Chalcolithic
Dates c. 6500 — c. 3800 BC
"Type site "Tell al-`Ubaid
Major sites "Eridu
Preceded by "Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period, "Hassuna culture, "Samarra culture
Followed by "Uruk period
""Ubaid period is located in Iraq
Map of "Iraq showing important sites that were occupied during the Ubaid period
The "Neolithic
↑ "Mesolithic
"Fertile Crescent
"Heavy Neolithic
"Shepherd Neolithic
"Trihedral Neolithic
"Pre-Pottery ("A, "B)
"Qaraoun culture
"Tahunian culture
"Yarmukian Culture
"Halaf culture
"Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period
Ubaid culture
"Tell Aswad
"Arzachena culture
"Boian culture
"Butmir culture
"Cardium Pottery culture
"Cernavodă culture
"Coțofeni culture
"Cucuteni-Trypillian culture
"Dudeşti culture
"Gorneşti culture
"Gumelniţa–Karanovo culture
"Hamangia culture
"Linear Pottery culture
"Malta Temples
"Ozieri culture
"Petreşti culture
"Shulaveri-Shomu culture
"Sesklo culture
"Tisza culture
"Tiszapolgár culture
"Usatovo culture
"Varna culture
"Vinča culture
"Vučedol culture
"Neolithic Transylvania
"Neolithic Southeastern Europe
"East Asia
"Peiligang culture
"Pengtoushan culture
"Beixin culture
"Cishan culture
"Dadiwan culture
"Houli culture
"Xinglongwa culture
"Xinle culture
"Zhaobaogou culture
"Hemudu culture
"Daxi culture
"Majiabang culture
"Yangshao culture
"Hongshan culture
"Dawenkou culture
"Songze culture
"Liangzhu culture
"Majiayao culture
"Qujialing culture
"Longshan culture
"Baodun culture
"Shijiahe culture
"Yueshi culture
"South Asia
"Neolithic Philippines
"Jade culture

"farming, "animal husbandry
"pottery, "metallurgy, "wheel
"circular ditches, "henges, "megaliths
"Neolithic religion

↓ "Chalcolithic
Pottery jar from Late Ubaid Period

The Ubaid period (c. 6500 to 3800 BC)[1] is a "prehistoric period of "Mesopotamia. The name derives from "Tell al-`Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by "Henry Hall and later by "Leonard Woolley.[2]

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the "alluvial plain although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the "alluvium.[3] In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BC when it is replaced by the "Uruk period.[4]

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BC.[4] It is preceded by the "Halaf period and the "Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.


History of research[edit]

The term "Ubaid period" was coined at a conference in Baghdad in 1930, where at the same time the "Jemdet Nasr and "Uruk periods were defined.[5]

Dating, extent and periodization[edit]

The Ubaid period is divided into three principal phases:

Spreading from "Eridu, the Ubaid culture extended from the Middle of the Tigris and Euphrates to the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then spread down past "Bahrain to the copper deposits at "Oman. The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BC, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.[14] At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1,000 years, the so-called "Dark Millennium".[15] That might be due to the "5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the "Older Peron.


Ubaid culture is characterized by large unwalled village settlements, characterized by multi-roomed rectangular mud-brick houses and the appearance of the first temples of public architecture in Mesopotamia, with a growth of a two tier settlement hierarchy of centralized large sites of more than 10 hectares surrounded by smaller village sites of less than 1 hectare. Domestic equipment included a distinctive fine quality buff or greenish colored pottery decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint; tools such as "sickles were often made of hard fired "clay in the south. But in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used. Villages thus contained specialised craftspeople, potters, weavers and metalworkers, although the bulk of the population were agricultural labourers, farmers and seasonal pastoralists.

During the Ubaid Period [5000–4000 BC], the movement towards urbanization began. "Agriculture and animal husbandry [domestication] were widely practiced in sedentary communities". There were also tribes that practiced domesticating animals as far north as Turkey, and as far south as the "Zagros Mountains.[16] The Ubaid period in the south was associated with intensive irrigated "hydraulic agriculture, and the use of the plough, both introduced from the north, possibly through the earlier "Choga Mami, "Hadji Muhammed and "Samarra cultures.


The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of "grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised "social stratification and decreasing "egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of "Trans-egalitarian" competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward "social mobility. "Morton Fried and "Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary "chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order. It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what "Thorkild Jacobsen called "primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one's peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of "Sumerian "civilisation. Whatever the ethnic origins of this group, this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East "oecumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later "Uruk period. "A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions".[17]

The earliest evidence for "sailing has been found in "Kuwait indicating that sailing was known by the Ubaid 3 period.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carter, Robert A. and Philip, Graham Beyond the Ubaid: Transformation and Integration in the Late Prehistoric Societies of the Middle East (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, Number 63) The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (2010) "ISBN "978-1-885923-66-0 p.2, at http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/saoc/saoc63.html; "Radiometric data suggest that the whole Southern Mesopotamian Ubaid period, including Ubaid 0 and 5, is of immense duration, spanning nearly three millennia from about 6500 to 3800 B.C".
  2. ^ Hall, Henry R. and Woolley, C. Leonard. 1927. Al-'Ubaid. Ur Excavations 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Adams, Robert MCC. and Wright, Henry T. 1989. 'Concluding Remarks' in Henrickson, Elizabeth and Thuesen, Ingolf (eds.) Upon This Foundation - The ’Ubaid Reconsidered. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. pp. 451-456.
  4. ^ a b Carter, Robert A. and Philip, Graham. 2010. 'Deconstructing the Ubaid' in Carter, Robert A. and Philip, Graham (eds.) Beyond the Ubaid: Transformation and Integration in the Late Prehistoric Societies of the Middle East. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. p. 2.
  5. ^ Matthews, Roger (2002), Secrets of the dark mound: Jemdet Nasr 1926-1928, Iraq Archaeological Reports, 6, Warminster: BSAI, "ISBN "0-85668-735-9 
  6. ^ a b Kurt, Amélie Ancient near East V1 (Routledge History of the Ancient World) Routledge (31 Dec 1996) "ISBN "978-0-415-01353-6 p.22
  7. ^ Roux, Georges "Ancient Iraq" (Penguin, Harmondsworth)
  8. ^ Wittfogel, Karl (1981) "Oriental Despotism: Comparative Study of Total Power" (Vintage Books)
  9. ^ Issar, A; Mattanyah Zohar Climate change: environment and civilization in the Middle East Springer; 2nd edition (20 Jul 2004) "ISBN "978-3-540-21086-3 p.87
  10. ^ Susan Pollock; Reinhard Bernbeck (2009). Archaeologies of the Middle East: Critical Perspectives. p. 190. 
  11. ^ Peter M. M. G. Akkermans, Glenn M. Schwartz (2003). The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban Societies (c.16,000-300 BC). p. 157. 
  12. ^ Bibby, Geoffrey (2013), "Looking for Dilmun" (Stacey International)
  13. ^ Crawford, Harriet E.W.(1998), "Dilmun and its Gulf Neighbours" (Cambridge University Press)
  14. ^ Parker, Adrian G.; et al. (2006). "A record of Holocene climate change from lake geochemical analyses in southeastern Arabia" (PDF). Quaternary Research. 66 (3): 465–476. "doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2006.07.001. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2008. 
  15. ^ Uerpmann, M. (2002). "The Dark Millennium—Remarks on the final Stone Age in the Emirates and Oman". In Potts, D.; al-Naboodah, H.; Hellyer, P. Archaeology of the United Arab Emirates. Proceedings of the First International Conference on the Archaeology of the U.A.E. London: Trident Press. pp. 74–81. "ISBN "1-900724-88-X. 
  16. ^ Pollock, Susan (1999). Ancient Mesopotamia: The Eden that Never Was. New York: Cambridge University Press. "ISBN "0-521-57334-3. 
  17. ^ Stein, Gil J.; Rana Özbal (2006). "A Tale of Two Oikumenai: Variation in the Expansionary Dynamics of Ubaid and Uruk Mesopotamia". In Elizabeth C. Stone. Settlement and Society: Ecology, urbanism, trade and technology in Mesopotamia and Beyond (Robert McC. Adams Festschrift). Santa Fe: SAR Press. pp. 356–370. ["permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Carter, Robert (2006). "Boat remains and maritime trade in the Persian Gulf during the sixth and fifth millennia BC". Antiquity. 80 (307). 


External links[edit]

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