History

Location

A Village in Syria is located in northeastern Syria, near the Turkish and Iraqi borders. There are many tells in this area, which attracted Agatha Christie and her distinguished husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan. The area has a tributary of the Euphrates River and good soil. The Tigris and Euphrates provided conditions for the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia.

Today, the Middle East is the highlight of many news outlets due to the violence and wars taking place in countries such as Syria. The formation of the Islamic State (IS) has left debris and chaos amid a country rich in ancient history. A Village in Syria seeks help in maintaining its history and traditions which influence today’s culture and religion.

Many of Max Mallowan’s excavations,1935-1937, focus on the Halaf Period.

THE HALAF PERIOD

(6500–5500 B.C.)

The prehistoric Halaf period took place in the later sixth millennium BC c. 5300-4800 BC. There are various theories of the origins of Halaf culture such as an invading population from Turkey. Most scholars believe that it was an indigenous development that transitioned from the Hassuna period in northern Syria. Interest in the Halaf culture is due to the cultural evolution of events. Most people are familiar with Mesopotamia as the rise of civilisation. The Halaf period proves to include the beginnings of agriculture and appearance of cities. The people in this period would use dry farming instead of irrigation because of the rich soil.

Late Halaf sites that date to c. 4800 BC are more commonthan earlier sites, suggesting that there was a growth in population. Halaf communities were characterised by terracotta pottery with complex designs or simple bands around the rim. What is remarkable is that pottery was found among different sites and different times. Over time, the pottery could be painted with three different colours.

OLD ASSYRIAN PERIOD

(2000-1740 B.C.)

Before the development of an empire, cities in northern Mesopotamia and northern Syria were ruled over by local Assyrian kings. These kings established trading colonies which attracted conquerors. The colonies would exchange textiles and tin for precious metals.

The Babylonian Empire had developed in southern Mesopotamia, but it was the Amorite chieftain Shamshi-Adad I who conquered northern Mesopotamia. He established his empire from Mari (on the Euphrates River) to Ashur on the Tigris. Shamsi-Adad I’s empire lasted from 1813-1781 BC.

Shamshi-Adad’s Empire 1813-1781 BCE

However, his legacy was short-lived. After his death Hammurabi of Babylon destroyed the city of Mari. The last Assyrian remnants were destroyed in the early C7th BC by an alliance between the Medes and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar. The Medes are thought to be the ancestors of the Kurds.