The Two Rivers, Givers of Life and Law

  • Arie S. Issar


As has already been mentioned, the lower stretches of the Mesopotamian plains are arid, and thus only irrigated agriculture can be practiced there. Thus the settlement of this region by land-tillers started only after man learnt to build canals and divert water from the big rivers. This happened during the Late Neolithic-Early Chalcolithic, (namely, the Hassuna-Sammra periods at ca. 7500 B.P.). During the Late Chalcolithic one finds a profusion of settlements, all representing a well-defined culture (called Ubaid) which began at about 6900 B.P. and continued till about 5300 B.P. The people who practiced this culture most probably came from the southeast where they developed methods of irrigation from streams and springs flowing in the valleys of the Iranian plateau and later at about the middle of the Chalcolithic period, they arrived at a stage which enabled them to cope with the technical and organizational problems of irrigation from the big rivers on a large scale. As stone is rare in the Mesopotamian plain, these people made full use of the clays. Their pottery and bricks and also their sickles, axes, and knives were of burnt clay. Their Mother Goddess was also made of clay. The temples were built one on top of the other.


Water Project Iranian Plateau Biblical Story Burnt Clay Clay Tablet 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arie S. Issar
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Water Resources Center The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion University of the NegevIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Geology and MineralogyBen Gurion University of the NegevIsrael

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