Re: woven bags

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on March 31, 1999 at 11:16:56:

In Reply to: Re: woven bags posted by Michael Wendorf on March 31, 1999 at 09:48:40:

: : Actually, there is evidence from the early 6th millennium BC, from sites in the Western Zagros Mountains, that the earliest pottery was made (read, "pottery-making" was "discovered") by folks who coated woven baskets in mud, perhaps to keep the basket or food within from burning when set in the campfire. The textile, whether vegetal or animal fiber, burned away, leaving a very useful item behind in the ashes. Sherds impressed with actual 'textile' markings were discovered in the

: : late 1970's; I cannot remember the name of the

: : site, but I am pretty sure it was never properly

: : published.

: : Additionally, it is believed that the first "true" pottery from the same general region was decorated with excised patterns to mimic woven containers.

: : Much of this is, of course, in the eye of the beholder.

: : Maude Pattullo

: Dear Maude and other Turkotekers:

: On a recent visit to the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. (to watch the tarantula feedings) I went through the early civilization exhibit and was reminded that sheep were domesticated in historic Kurdistan as early as the ninth millenium B.C. and that what anthropologists refer to as organized communities existed in the sixth. It is possible that people were weaving in this area throughout this period, though what the weavings may have looked liked and how they may have been used is unclear. MW

Dear Maude:

I wanted to follow up again on your post. The site you are referring to may be Tel Halaf, an advanced neolithic village that gives rise to the term "Halaf Culture." This site is near the town of Qamishli in modern northern Syria. But Halaf pottery is characterized more by being painted and the fact that for the first time it appears to be the work of specialized craftsmen (even giving rise to an early form of a potters wheel later on).
The point is an interesting one because some modern Kurdish historians (for example, Izady) trace the modern Kurds to the Halaf culture through the Ubaidians and Hurrians and on to the Medes and others.
The type of pottery you point to may even predate the Halaf culture, at least in this area.
Other sites with painted pottery around 6000 B.C. include Hassuna in northern Mesopotamia.
You may also be thinking of Hacilar, a site in Anatolia that predates Catal Huyuk, or Cayonu Tepesi.
I do not, however, want to make this more complicated than it already is. The important point, I think, is that by 6000 B.C. people in the western Zagros were already engaged in nomadic pastoralism and were probably fairly sophisticated in their ability to weave. I will also note that there is evidence of fairly substantial and far reaching trade taking place around this time. I am not certain of the implications of this for woven bags. Where are Dr. Elizabeth Barber and Irene Good when we need them? Regards, Michael

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