“The origin of the Sumerians is unknown.
The intriguing question keeps returning into the literature but has so far unsatisfactory answers. The Sumerians were not the first people in Mesopotamia. They were not present before 4000 BCE, while before that time village communities existed with a high degree of organization.
The ‘principle of agriculture’ was not discovered by the Sumerians. This is evident from words the Sumerians use for items in relation to the domestication of plants and animals.
A language (in particular as it appears in proper names and geographical names) may show signs of so called substrate languages (like the influence of Celtic on ancient Gaul; compare some Indian geographical names in the US attesting the original inhabitants).
Some professional names and agricultural implements in Sumerian show that agriculture and the economic use of metals existed before the arrival of the Sumerians.
Sumerian words with a pre-Sumerian origin are:
- professional names such as simug ‘blacksmith’ and tibira ‘copper smith’, ‘metal-manufacturer’ are not in origin Sumerian words
- Agricultural terms, like engar ‘farmer’, apin ‘plow’ and absin ‘furrow’, are neither of Sumerian origin
- Craftsman like nangar ‘carpenter’, agab ‘leather worker’
- Religious terms like sanga ‘priest’
Some of the most ancient cities, like Kish, have names that are not Sumerian in origin.
These words must have been loan words from a substrate language. The words show how far the division in labor had progressed even before the Sumerians arrived.”
“Soon after 8,000 BC sedentary communities and domestic plants and animals began to appear in many areas of South-west Asia.
These domesticates and allied agricultural economies were to prove both successful and adaptable to the extent that within centuries of their first appearance they had spread far outside the Fertile Crescent.
By 7,000 BC farmers in Greek Thessaly were subsisting on cultivated emmer-wheat and barley as well as domestic cattle and pigs.”
“This site, currently undergoing excavation by German and Turkish archaeologists, was erected by hunter-gatherers at perhaps 11,500 B.C. (This is believed to be before the advent of sedentariness).
It is currently considered the oldest known shrine or temple complex in the world, and the planet’s oldest known example of monumental architecture.”
One of the most exciting discoveries in Turkish archaeology this century. It currently stands as the oldest known Megalithic Temple complex in the world (9,000 BC).
The site has numerous intricately carved T-shaped megaliths, covered with exquisite images of birds and animals.”
“Hacilar is an early human settlement in southwestern Turkey, 25 km southwest of present day Burdur. It has been dated back 7040 BC at its earliest stage of development.
Archaeological remains indicate that the site was abandoned and reoccupied on more than one occasion in its history.”
“Hacilar is another important center in Central Anatolia, near the modern city of Burdur.
There is evidence there of agriculture dating back 9,000 years. Archaeologists have found considerable amounts of wheat, barley and lentils in the houses at Hacilar, giving clues to people’s diet and the history of domesticated foods.
Catalhoyuk and Hacilar are also considered two of the earliest clay pottery centers. The existence of pottery is one very important indirect benefits of the sedentary lifestyle created by the ability to produce food year-round and even amass surpluses.
Assured of their ability to eat, and able to feed more than just the people who produced food, these stone-age city dwellers had the opportunity and time invent and create.”
East Central Israel
“Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BC, providing important information about early human habitation in the Near East.
The first permanent settlement was built near the Ein as-Sultan spring between 8000 and 7000 BC by an unknown people, and consisted of a number of walls, a religious shrine, and a 23-foot (7.0 m) tower with an internal staircase.”
“The earliest settlement was located at the present-day Tell es-Sultan (or Tell Sultan), a couple of kilometers from the current city.
Arabic tell means “mound” – consecutive layers of habitation built up a mound over time, as is common for ancient settlements in the Middle East and Anatolia.
The Neolithic settlements were contemporary with Catalhoyuk and had a similar technology level.”
“The next people who came to Ein es Sultan are called PPNA (The initials stand for Pre-Pottery Neolitiic A).
They made their settlement at the spring around 8,000 BC. As the name indicates, they had no pottery. (Though as a well-preserved site at Catal Huyuk, Turkey shows they had wooden vessels).
But the PPNA culture also raised their own domesticated wheat. (The bones of domesticated sheep and goats and the grains of domesticated wheat can be distinguished from the wild varieties easily.)
The PPNA people built circular dome-shaped one-room huts of curved adobe bricks covered over with plastered mud.
Similar circular huts are still built by peasants in northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey. Sites of the PPNA culture are found all over Israel, Jordan, Syria, and northern Iraq and a similar early agricultural village of what was probably a closely related culture is found at Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey.
PPNA is the first agricultural society known.
The spread of PPNA probably went along with the spread of a particular language across the Middle East, so PPNA culture was probably spread by one particular people who drove out or absorbed other peoples.”
“Excavations have shown strata of occupancy going back to the Neolithic period (7,000-5,000 BC), but the most outstanding features of the site were constructed during the early, middle and late Bronze Ages (5,000-2,000 BC).
Inscriptions found within the excavation go back as far as the Neolithic period, and a sophisticated pictograph form of writing was developed as early as 2000-1800 BC.
The “Metsamor Inscriptions” have a likeness to later scripts.
The excavation has uncovered a large metal industry, including a foundry with 2 kinds of blast furnaces (brick and in-ground).
Metal processing at Metsamor was among the most sophisticated of its kind at that time: the foundry extracted and processed high-grade gold, copper, several types of bronze, manganese, zinc, strychnine, mercury and iron.”
“The Çayönü settlement which is not far from the city of Diyarbakir has been unearthed by the expedition teams under the leadership of Cambel, Braidwood, Mehmet Ozdogan, Wulf Schirmen and it is dated back to 7250-6750 BC.
In the middle of the settlement is a center and around it are monumental, rectangular structures and houses. The foundation of the structures is stone and above is sun-dried brick. The inhabitants of Çayönü are the first farmers of Anatolia. They raised sheep and goat, and domesticated dog.
The woman figurines among the finds discovered are the earliest traces of the Mother Goddess cult.”
If you try to find this site using Google Maps or Google Earth you will not be directed to the correct location. In fact both of those locations have differing references as to where Çayönü is located which is too far north for both.
The below bottom map is correct and the actual dig is at the top which has a small stream flowing through it and not at the center which is Sesverenpınar.
Zagros Mountains, eastern Iraq
“Jarmo is an archeological site located in northern Iraq on the foothills of the Zagros Mountains.
For a long time it was known as the oldest known agricultural community in the world, dating back to 7000 BC. It is also one of the oldest Neolithic village sites to be excavated. The Jarmo archeological site was one of the first means of documentation for the way of life of civilization’s first farmers and herders.
The people reaped their grain with stone sickles, stored their food in stone bowls, and possessed domesticated goats, sheep, and dogs.
They also grew emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, and lentils. In addition to their agriculture, they also foraged for wild plants such as the field pea, acorns, pistachio nuts, and wild wheat.
The later levels of settlement contained evidence of domesticated pigs and clay pottery. Since many of their tools were made of obsidian from beds 300 miles away, a primitive form of commerce must have existed. Bone tools, especially awls, were abundant from the site.
Carefully made bone spoons and beads were also found.”
“Mehrgarh is a Neolithic (7000-3200 BC) site on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, Pakistan, and one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in south Asia.
The site is located on the principal route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
A number of terracotta figurines have been found from sites in Mehrgarh dating from the fourth millennium BCE. These represent the earliest forms of female imagery (formerly believed to represent the ‘mother goddess’) found in the subcontinent (Elgood, p.331).
If you go looking for this site you will find it difficult as the Google markers are too far north.
This map (at bottom page) is correct but even at a higher resolution the detail is not apparent. It could be that this image is too early in the archaeological process or there is not enough detail to see from satellite.