Washington, April 7 (ANI): Archaeologists have uncovered new clues about a prehistoric society that formed the foundation of urban life in the Middle East prior to invention of the wheel.
The mound of Tell Zeidan in the Euphrates River Valley near Raqqa, Syria, which had not been built upon or excavated for 6,000 years, is revealing a society rich in trade, copper metallurgy and pottery production.
Artifacts recently found there are providing more support for the view that Tell Zeidan was among the first societies in the Middle East to develop social classes according to power and wealth.
Tell Zeidan dates from between 6000 and 4000 B.C., and immediately preceded the world's first urban civilizations in the ancient Middle East.
It is one of the largest sites of the Ubaid culture in northern Mesopotamia.
Thus far, the team of archaeologists from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, along with a team of Syrian colleagues, have unearthed evidence of this society's trade in obsidian and production and development of copper processing, as well as the existence of a social elite that used stone seals to mark ownership of goods and culturally significant items.
"The project addresses questions not only of how such societies emerged but how they were sustained and flourished," said John Yellen, program director for archaeology in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate. NSF supports the University of Chicago's research.
Covering about 31 acres, Tell Zeidan was situated where the Balikh River joins the Euphrates River in modern-day Syria. The location was at the crossroads of major, ancient trade routes in Mesopotamia that followed the course of the Euphrates River valley. The Ubaid period lasted from about 5300 to 4000 B.C.
Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute and a leader of the expedition," said: "This enigmatic period saw the first development of widespread irrigation, agriculture, centralized temples, powerful political leaders and the first emergence of social inequality as communities became divided into wealthy elites and poorer commoners." (ANI)