Paleo-history Notes: Neolithic

Sumerian strange object called as “mace”.



The Neolithic has come to be identified with the systematic cultivation of cereals and livestock practice, however other economies  coexisted in the early postglacial urban phenomenon, true to the food supply system based on traditional hunting and gathering, which remained unchanged among countless Celtic tribes (in the case of Europe), from Scandinavia to the southern Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Others see in the microlithism, bone and wood use, at the expense of accustomed tooling made of heavy pieces of flint, the true origin of the Neolithic. In both cases it is clear that these changes in the habits of human beings at this times, simply were due to the shortage, the circumstance rules and when hunting became scarce, as it was losing the wetlands due to the relentless advance of the deserts, some peoples were forced to seek alternative livelihoods, but this, which at first seems so logical, paradoxically does not correspond in any way with the documentary record of the first cultures that emerged in the early Holocene, invariably ancient peoples attributed these discoveries to the favor of the gods, which as I said once it is  intriguing, given the natural vanity  of the human being. either way the term Neolithic seems rather unfortunate  like other expressions condemned to forget as the “Copper Age” also known as Chalcolithic, or the later “Iron Age”.

Personally I think the key factor that distinguishes from the lengthy Paleolithic to the new situations arising from a changing climate, is the emergence of cities. The ceremonial precinct of Göbekli Tepe 11,500 years ago, in fact it seems a melancholy tribute to a world of fabulous abundance in the process of disappearing. The villages of huts and dispersed shelters with little or no surplus to trade, from my point of view not even deserve the title of urban centers, the early and ephemeral  walled Jericho is the exception that proves the rule, would still spend a few thousand years until the time of Eridu, Ur, Uruk, etc, when it was widespread the use of metal.

Bronze is a metal alloy made ​​primarily of copper and a small portion, about three percent of some other metal such as zinc, gold, silver, lead, arsenic and tin, the intention is to provide stiffness to the metal due to the natural malleability of  copper. The silver and gold were eventually discarded as the plumb, however for some time two basic types of bronze co-existed:  bronze based on arsenic and other based on tin, under the existence of several commercial routes converging on the country of Sumer,  six thousand years ago, although the arsenious bronze  despite its advantages, it was eventually abandoned due to the toxicity of arsenic.

Particularly striking is the etymology of the word Bronze itself, which some say is an expression derived from the Latin name of the city of Brindisi, famous for the quality of the metal produced there, something like if  steel was called Toledo, is rare but not preposterous, language encodes things sometimes in strange ways. Other sources derive the name from Persian berenj.

It seems obvious that its first use was the military, but then began to manufacture tools, utensils, beads and other decorations for cult.
it attributes the development of this technology –  we talk about getting high and stable temperatures to melt the ore, not to mention the various processes involved in its production, that reveal a certain degree of technical – to different peoples, however evidence points to Mesopotamia that is where it have found the oldest bronze artifacts, and this is curious because there is not one ounce of mineral native throughout the region because the whole area is pure alluvium, nor is there forests where to get wood for charcoal to supply smelter ovens, but it seems clear that from existing mines in neighboring regions or as remote as India and Britain flocked the minerals precisely toward Mesopotamia.

Experts say that the development of metallurgy required of the human groups of the time, the type of organizational level of the gerfalcon, rapacious and bossy people, usually quite scoundrel, who placed their children in strategic workstations in the administration and control or even worship, a structure servile of clientelism in an urban environment fortified. even so this may seem arbitrary, since it can melt metal in situ or in the vicinity, but bear in mind all the guilds involved in the production of metal: loggers, charcoal, leather craftsmen, ropers , etc., an association of specializations that converges only in the “city”, from where derives the word “civilization”. Fortunately over the millennia, with too many ups and downs, it seems that the atavistic authoritarian organizational model begin to lose steam.

The Sumerians called the bronze (sometimes indistinctly from copper) “urudu” roughly translated as “made in the city” from “uru-du”. in any case the fate of the first post apocalyptic cities, was closely linked to control manufacturing and metals, as somehow, the Sumerian writing seems to reveal:



Sources: Antonio Blanco Freijeiro, Mercedes Torrecilla and Wikipedia.