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Choga Mami is a Samarran settlement site in Diyala province in Southern Iraq in the Mandali region.[1] It shows the first canal irrigation in operation at about 6000 BCE. It is no longer clear which way cultural developments were flowing in the 6500 to 4500 BCE period.[2][3][4]

Choga Mami
Unknown Native Name
Location in Iran
Location in Iran
Shown within Iraq
Location Diyala Province, Iraq
Region Mandali region
Coordinates 33°53′00″N 45°27′00″E / 33.883330°N 45.449990°E / 33.883330; 45.449990Coordinates: 33°53′00″N 45°27′00″E / 33.883330°N 45.449990°E / 33.883330; 45.449990
Type Settlement
History
Material Mud Brick
Founded 5600 BC
Abandoned 5000 BC
Site notes
Excavation dates 1967-1968
Archaeologists Joan and David Oates
Condition In ruins

The site, about 70 miles northeast of Baghdad, has been dated to the late 6th millennium BCE. It was occupied in several phases from the Samarran culture through the Ubaid. Buildings were rectangular and built of mud brick, including a guard tower at the settlement's entrance. Irrigation supported livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) and arable (wheat, barley and flax) agriculture.[4]

One important aspect of the site therefore is the evidence that it yields for chronological relationships between North and South Mesopotamian cultures, at least in the area of Mandali, and for connections with Iran. The introduction of irrigation, new types of grain, foreign ceramic styles and domestic cattle are all located in the Choga Mami phase, a late manifestation of the Samarran Period in lowland Mesopotamia. This chronological identification thus also suggests the source of these innovations: migration from the lowlands. 

Artifacts found at Choga Mami include Samarran painted pottery and elaborate clay female figurines.[4]

Contents

HistoryEdit

Choga Mami is the largest Tell in the Mandali region. Excavators David and Joan Oates describe the site as a "low mound some 200 meters long and 2-5 meters high," and "heavily eroded, the latest preserved levels dating to 4800 B.C."[5]Based on excavation findings, it appears that Choga Mami had a few small village clusters with small irrigated areas where people grew wheat and barley; herded sheep, goats and some cows; and hunted gazelles and other wild fauna. [6] Lentils and "large-seeded peas" were also grown, while pistachios were gathered from the nearby landscape.[7]The domestication of plants and animals [8] at Choga Mami was possible because of man-made irrigation channels which "ran along the northern side of the mound," which date from the "6th millennium B.C.," and a large canal dating to the end of the Samarran period which was located at the "southwestern side of the mound."[9]Some channels reached more than five kilometers in length, which would require the cooperative labor of larger groups.[6] The latest of these canals can be dated to around 1,500 years ago.[10]

ArchaeologyEdit

Choga Mami was originally excavated by a team of archaeologists, led by Joan and David Oates. The first season of this excavation project began on December 2nd of 1967 and would extend until February 26th of 1968[6]. The archaeological site of Choga Mami was chosen for excavation in part due to its location in Iraq, along an area which would have ostensibly seen heavy foot traffic during the time, in which it would have been considered part of the Mesopotamian region. During the excavation the team of archaeologists found mud brick rooms all similar in size and thoughtfully aligned, pottery, tools, and many small clay figures. David Oates also found a jar containing the fragmented remains of what is presumably an infant burial, [6] which led them to believe that this location would have been the site of a small town.

ArchitectureEdit

Excavations at Choga Mami have revealed many levels of occupation on the tell, dating from the start of the 6th millennium B.C. A mud-brick tower guarded the entrance to the settlement.[4] There is no clear evidence that it formed part of a town wall, and encouraged by a part of an ascending ramp found beside it, archaeologists identify the structure as a watch tower.[11] Built out of locally sourced mud brick, the settlement had Samarran-style, rectangular shaped homes. The homes found at Choga Mami were built directly on top of, or occasionally within, the walls of earlier levels.[12] The majority of houses "contained either two or three rows of small rooms,"[13] on either side of a central hall, referred to as a tripartite plan. This plan is common throughout Mesopotamia in both public and domestic architecture.[14]Many of the houses found at Choga Mami were strengthened by external buttresses, corresponding with "the corners and junctions of walls."[15] The largest buttress found by excavators measured 10 x 7 meters and contained twelve rooms in three rows.[16] Despite being rendered obsolete by architectural innovations later in the period, these buttresses are found at all levels of occupation, resulting in purely decorative use of the buttress by the end of the Samarran period.[17]

Ceramics/PotteryEdit

The surviving pieces of pottery found at Choga Mami were regularly constructed with the same materials and the same overall look as those of the wider Samarran Culture.[12] Many remaining examples display an extensive use of animal imagery, a defining characteristic of the period.[18] Among the clay artifacts that have been excavated at Choga Mami, both painted and unpainted pots, clay beads, and small figurines have been recovered. While standing male and female Terracotta figurines are the most common,[19] other figurines largely resemble the figures of the of the later Ubaid period, found in southern Iraq. These small baked terracotta figurines are often depicted as standing male or female statutes with their hands at their waist and intricately decorated, yet depicted with exaggerated body proportions.[6] Many have the appliqué eyes, scalloped hairstyles and beauty marks, typical of the pottery of the larger Mandali region.[20] Few Terracotta figurines have been found fully intact due to their composition. Most remain fragmentary, as these figurines were often assembled with added on smaller pieces, which have broken off over time at the joining point. [6]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Helbaek, Hans, "Samarran Irrigation Agriculture at Choga Mami in Iraq", Iraq, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring, 1972
  2. ^ Yoffee, Norman and Clark, Jeffery J. (eds) (1993), "Early Stages in the Evolution of Mesopotamian Civilization: Soviet Excavations in Northern Iraq", (The University of Arizona Press, Tucson)
  3. ^ Potts, Daniel (1997), "Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundation", (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York)
  4. ^ a b c d "031. Choga Mami (ancient name unknown)". Iraq. US Department of Defense. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  5. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 62. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Oates, Joan (Autumn 1969). "Choga Mami, 1967-68: A Preliminary Report". British Institute for the Study of Iraq. Vol. 21: 115–152 – via JSTOR. 
  7. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 104. 
  8. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 104. 
  9. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 64. 
  10. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 64. 
  11. ^ Oates, David. "Excavations At Choga Mami, Iraq". British Institute for the Study of Iraq: 4-5. 
  12. ^ a b Oates, David. "Excavations At Choga Mami, Iraq". British Institute for the Study of Iraq: 4–5. 
  13. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 67. ISBN 0729000184. 
  14. ^ Oates, Joan (2014). Renfrew, Colin; Bahn, Paul, eds. Prehistory and the rise of cities in Mesopotamia and Iran. Cambridge World Prehistory (Online ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1478. 
  15. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 67. 
  16. ^ Oates, David. "Excavations At Choga Mami, Iraq". British Institute for the Study of Iraq: 4-5. 
  17. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 67. 
  18. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 43. 
  19. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 65. 
  20. ^ Oates, David and Joan (1976). The Rise of Civilization. Elsevier Phaidon. p. 43. 

BibliographyEdit

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  • Helbaek, Hans (1972), “Samarran Irrigation Agriculture at Choga Mami in Iraq.” Iraq, vol. 34, no. 1, 1972, pp. 35–48., doi:10.2307/4199929.
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  • Mortensen, Peder (1973), “A Sequence of Samarran Flint and Obsidian Tools from Choga Mami.” Iraq, vol. 35, no. 1, 1973, pp. 37–55., doi:10.2307/4199950.
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  • Oates, David and Joan (1976), The Rise of Civilization. (New York: Elsevier Phaidon).
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