(ORDO NEWS) — In southern Iraq, excavations are under way at Lagash, one of the earliest major cities in the world.
Researchers have already discovered city blocks and singled out individual public buildings, including an ancient Sumerian cafe.
In the 4th millennium BC, about six thousand years ago, the northern shore of the Persian Gulf was about 240 kilometers further northwest than today.
Near this ancient coast were three settlements – Girsu, Lagash and Nigin, which together constituted a large city-state, also known as Lagash.
In 1953, scientists deciphered the inscription on the stone and found out where the central settlement, Lagash itself, was located – now it is the archaeological site of Tell el-Khiba.
In recent years, archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) have been studying it.
So, recently they carried out remote sensing of the city and found out that it stood on many islands and was divided into four parts, one of which was cult, two more were handicraft and agricultural, and the inhabitants of the fourth, most likely, were engaged in fishing.
After remote sensing, excavations began directly . In the process, it became clear that Lagash covers an area of about 450 hectares, and this makes it one of the largest archaeological sites in southern Mesopotamia.
Beneath the surface of the earth lies evidence that will make it possible to reconstruct the life of ordinary people during the so-called Early Dynastic period (from 2900 to 2300 BC), when the world’s first large cities arose.
In the southern part of the site, archaeologists have found clear evidence of pottery making, mostly typical waste from such production.
They opened a large square trench, where they found six ceramic ovens with oval pits made of baked adobe bricks.
The upper parts have not been preserved, but at the time the researchers suggested that they were most likely domed. During further work, archaeologists unearthed five more furnaces.
According to scientists, the density of the kilns indicates a significant production of ceramics in Lagash, but it is not at all clear how this was organized.
The problem is that the ovens are better preserved than the surrounding ancient buildings. And this is not surprising, because they were tempered by fire.
Most of the streets, lanes, and buildings apparently predate the kilns, and millennia of rain, flood, and wind have left them in a state that is not conducive to dating. But recent work shows that at least one street and workplace coincide in time with one oven.
“We found two rectangular pits that appear to have been used in different stages of pottery production,” says excavation leader Holly Pittman.
One of them contained pure red clay, which has ideal plastic properties and is still used today. The other contained coarse-grained yellow-green sand, which was used for firing.
Next to these pits, archaeologists have cleared a site on which benches and a table once stood – possibly the place where ceramists worked. Nearby they unearthed what looks like a residential building.
It consisted of a kitchen (they found clay vessels and their lids, bowls with leftover food and a grindstone on the floor), as well as several living rooms and a toilet.
The researchers suggest that the stove belonged to the family that lived in this house, that is, we are talking about family production of ceramics.
But the most amazing find, archaeologists considered the object, which they identified as a tavern, a public catering establishment. It consisted of several rooms and an open area: something like a summer veranda.
The premises were roughly divided into a hall for visitors (there were traces of long tables and benches), a kitchen and pantries where supplies were stored.
In the kitchen, there is a stove, earthenware vessels with food leftovers, and storage vessels in the storerooms. A very interesting find is the so-called zir, an ancient refrigeration device. It consists of two clay pots.
The outer one is porous, while the inner one, on the contrary, was burned in a furnace so that the walls would not let water through.
The gap between the pots was filled with wet sand, which, with the flow of air, removed heat from the inner pot, and it evaporated through the porous outer one.
The preliminary dating of this Sumerian cafe is approximately 2700 BC.
The ancient Sumerians, having completed their working day, came to this tavern to refresh themselves and hear city news. I must say that for five thousand years, some human habits have not changed much.
Contact us: [email protected]