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Umm Dabaghiyah Culture

Early 6th millennium BC type-site of the Umm Dabaghiyah Culture, the earliest known culture in the northern Iraq plain. The site is small (less than one hectare) but has yielded some interesting architectural remains: long buildings consisting of rows of small cell-like rooms without obvious means of access which are interpreted as communal store houses. Ordinary houses also occur with evidence of living rooms, kitchens and storage rooms.

Some wall paintings have been recorded showing onager (wild ass) hunting scenes. The importance of hunting in the economy is clearly indicated by the animal remains; 84 per cent of which are made up of two species of wild animals, gazelle and onager although domesticated sheep, goats, cattle and pigs were also kept. Cereal and pulse remains have been found but because the area is today an arid gypsum salt covered steppe, the excavator Diana Kirkbride has suggested that plant foods were imported (in exchange for animal products such as onager hides). This is one possible explanation but as Umm Dabaghiyah is only just outside the area where rain-fed farming is possible today it may be that slightly different climatic conditions in the 6th millennium BC would have allowed dry farming to be practised then. Pottery is abundant in all the four main phases and includes painted types similar to archaic Hassuna pottery. Indeed the Umm Dabaghiyah culture can be regarded as ancestral to Hassuna. Other sites of this culture are Yarim Tepe and Tell Sotto further north ...


S Bokonyi (1973) “The Fauna of Umm Dabaghiyah: A Preliminary Report” Iraq Voume 35 : 9-11

P Dorrell (1972) ”A note on the geomorphology of the country around Umm Dabaghiyah.” Iraq Volume 24 : 69-72

H Helbaek (1972b) “Traces of plants at the early ceramic site of Umm Dabaghiyah” Iraq Volume 34 : 17-19

D Kirkbride (1972) “Umm Dabaghiyah 1971: A Preliminary Report” Iraq Volume 34 : 3-19

D Kirkbride (1973a) “Umm Dabaghiyah 1972: A Second Preliminary Report” Iraq Volume 35 : 1-8

D Kirkbride (1973b) “Umm Dabaghiyah 1973: A third preliminary report” Iraq Volume 35 : 205-209

D Kirkbride (1974) “Umm Dabaghiyah: A Trading Outpost?” Iraq Volume 36 : 85-92

D Kirkbride (1975) “Umm Dabaghiyah: A Fourth Preliminary Report” Iraq Volume 37 : 3-10

D Kirkbride (1982) “Umm Dabaghiyah” in Curtis (ed) 1982 50 Years of Mesopotamian Discovery : 11-21

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium