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Godin Tepe in Near-East (c. 3100 BC)


At the Godin Tepe site (North of the Zagros Mountains on the Iranian-Iraqi border), a shard of jar revealed the presence of calcium oxalate ions in the yellowish residues of its grooves. This signature of alcoholic fermentation, associated with the charred barley grains discovered in the same room, demonstrates without ambiguity the destination of this jar, dated 3500-3100 BC: a beer jar [1].


Figure 1 : Godin Tepe on the foothills of the Zagros (after H. Nissen, 1988 : fig. 46)


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Godin Tepe in Near-East

The buildings and rooms grouped around a central space and surrounded by curvilinear walls evoke a small citadel or a trading post isolated from the rest of the city in the valley. The material collected within this protected perimeter is similar to the cultures of Lower Mesopotamia and Susiana, while in the rest of the city it is locally inspired. In room 18, next to the beer jar and the barley grains, there were almost 2000 small spherical stones, obviously intended for calculations or transactions. Established on one of the roads joining the Mesopotamian plain to the Iranian plateau via the Kangavar valley, Godin Tepe was home to a merchant colony or a local elite influenced by the southern cultures of Sumer and Susiana. The expansion of this so-called Urukean culture began between 4000 and 3800 BC[2].


[1] McGovern et al. 1996, Neolithic resinated wine; Nature 381, 480–481. McGovern & Badler 1992, Chemical evidence for ancient beer; Nature 360, 24.  McGovern & Badler 1993, The First Wine and Beer: Chemical Detection of Ancient Fermented Beverages; Analytical Chemistry 65: 408A-413A.

[2] Named after the eponymous Sumerian city of Uruk, which will become the largest urban center of the world in the 3rd millennium BC.

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