Late Uruk period, about 3400-3200 BC
The animals of the first city-dwellers of Mesopotamia
This stone vessel was made in the late fourth millennium BC, when cities were developing in southern Mesopotamia. The largest known settlement was Uruk (modern Warka). In the centre of the city were monumental temple buildings where archaeologists have found beautiful objects with designs very similar to those depicted on this vase. Such exotic sculptures may have had a ritual use within the temples. The art work of this period very often emphasize domesticated animals. Similar scenes are depicted on cylinder seals which developed as part of administration of these major centres.
During this period a large number of settlements established in northern and western Mesopotamia shared the same culture as the south. Southerners may have been trading with local people for stones and metals not available on the southern alluvial plains.
It is likely that they also farmed the herds of Syrian sheep and cattle. The production of woollen textiles from vast numbers of sheep was probably a major part of southern Mesopotamia's economy. Many of the images on cylinders of this period appear to show pig-tailed figures engaged in weaving. Much later texts describe how weaving was the occupation of women, often working together in large numbers.