Hallan Ϛemi Settlement
Zarzians: Full of Surprises!
Signs of this culture are first seen along the Don River south of Moscow and flowing into the Bay of Azov. This empties into the Black Sea.
We also find them in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia and south into the Armenian Highlands, then farther south to the Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq and northwestern Iran.
The Armenian Highlands gave them control of multiple sources of obsidian: a rock highly desired for tools and weapon points.
In general, though, they kept moving. They were early Middle Eastern users of the bow and arrow. They hunted red deer, onager (wild ass), wild cattle, wild sheep, and wild goats.
Zarzians domesticated dogs early in their culture. Quite possibly the dogs were protectors and hunters.
Hallan Ϛemi Settlement
The clock was ticking.
A dam was being built to regulate the Batman River in eastern Turkey. When finished, an entire area north of the near-joining of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers would form a lake.
Archaeologists had little time to discover and recover any sites of interest. One site they saved was Hallan Ϛemi. (That’s pronounced H + the name Alan, Semi as in semicolon.)
Hallan Ϛemi is the oldest permanently settled village in the area, possibly in the world. And it was built by Zarzians.
They lived there for a long time. There are three building phases. In the center is a natural three foot diameter pit used for garbage and possibly ceremonial purposes. Huts were built around this pit.
The huts had stone foundations, which were below ground. The walls were of wattle and daub construction (wooden rods woven with twigs and plastered with clay). The roof was woven branches. The nearby forest was one reason why this location was chosen.
Earlier huts were made with sandstone block foundations six feet in diameter. Each hut was surrounded by a plastered wall creating a space about three feet wide for domestic activities. Because the huts were so small, they were probably used only for sleeping.
Later structures were constructed with stone from the nearby river. Had skills been lost?
Besides huts, there were two larger buildings, each eighteen feet in diameter, with stone benches and plastered hearths. The presence of exotic materials and a skull of wild cattle that had hung on the wall indicate that these structures had community ceremonial use.
A true village, the quantity and quality of work indicates separation of labor.
- Engineering and building trades (supervisors and workers) for constructing the site.
- Gatherers of bitter vetch, wild lentils, seeds, almonds, and pistachios.
- Surprise! No cereal grains were harvested. This was a blow to the theory that settlement was invented by farmers.
- Gatherers of turtles and clams from the nearby river.
- Surprise! It is the year-round gathering of clams, as noted by shell growth rings, which proves that people stayed all year: a permanent village.
- Hunters of wild sheep, wild goat, wild cattle, onager, and red deer.
- Trainers to teach dogs to protect the village and help the hunters.
- Pig farmers who caught wild pigs outside the village or ones nosing the garbage pit and domesticated them.
- Surprise! The second domesticated animal was the pig, not a sheep or goat.
- Stone carvers to create elaborate bowls and pestles decorated most often with vipers (Here’s the serpent again!), and also mundane tools and weapons points.
- Surprise! No one expected elaborate stoneware.
- Miners who went to the highlands to extract obsidian.
- Traders of obsidian and crafted weapon points and tools.
- Care-givers/teachers of babies and small children.
- Possibly spiritual/religious/celebration leaders.
- Surprise! The purpose of the settlement was trade between the Zarzians and the wandering people to the south.
This is the first time we see a true culture!
Zarzians are around longer than most cultures, but then vanish!
Collin, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Bear & Co. Rochester, Vermont, 2014, p.197-201.