Jan 23 2022
15: Northern Mesopotamia before & after the Ubaid, 6000-3800 BCE (Nanna-Suen)
(Formerly episode 14)
Guests: Kelsey, Kelten
First, we meet the moon god Nanna-Suen (alias Sin, alias Ashimbabbar), as he prepares to journey from Ur upriver to the city of his father Enlil.
Then, a brief look at the Halaf culture (early-mid 5000s BCE) in late Neolithic upper Mesopotamia, which managed to avoid social hierarchy and wealth inequality millennia after developing agriculture and herding. How did they do it?
Then, the southern Ubaid culture reaches the north. In just a few centuries (ca 5300-4500 BCE), the southerners managed to export not just their material culture (tools, pottery, building styles, etc) but also an economy centered on the large households of wealthy and well-connected families, which coordinated not only grain storage and redistribution but also manual labor projects, long-distance trade, and religious activity. How did they do it?
Then, a visit to our new friends at Tepe Gawra, a town in northern Iraq occupied more or less continuously from the Halaf period well into the Bronze Age. We'll be back! (Correction: Level 19 is Gawra's oldest Ubaid level. Level 20, dating to the Halaf, is the earliest occupation at Gawra). How did northerners navigate different markers of identity in the face of cultural transformation? What can stamp seals tell us about the growing power of one particular household and/or the breed of dogs at Gawra?
We wrap up with a tour of the Post-Ubaid north (ca 4500-3800 BCE). Even as southern influence subsided, northern chiefs appear to have enjoyed their newfound power, at least enough to find new and interesting ways to turn other people's labor into jewelry for their children.
Then, we return to Tepe Gawra until the beginning of the Uruk period. What's a town so small doing with all this treasure? And why is so much of it buried with children?
Finally, Enlil's little fellow who eats sweet cakes arrives at his father's dinner table to exchange porcupines, long-tailed bush rats, turtles, and various birds and fishes for bread, beer, sweet cake, syrup, crescent cake, and clear water. May Lord Ashimbabbar make you be born for seven days!
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