, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 387-431
Date: 24 Mar 2010

Cycles of Civilization in Northern Mesopotamia, 4400–2000 BC

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The intensification of fieldwork in northern Mesopotamia, the upper region of the Tigris-Euphrates basin, has revealed two cycles of expansion and reduction in social complexity between 4400 and 2000 BC. These cycles include developments in social inequality, political centralization, craft production and economic specialization, agropastoral land use, and urbanization. Contrary to earlier assessments, many of these developments proceeded independently from the polities in southern Mesopotamia, although not in isolation. This review considers recent data from excavations and surveys in northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey with particular attention to how they are used to construct models of early urban polities.