Halafian Culture

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Halafian Culture


an archaeological culture that flourished in the fifth millennium B.C. in northern Mesopotamia, in what is now Iraq, northern Syria, and southern Turkey. It was named after the settlement of Tall Halaf (Tell Halaf) in northern Syria.

The most thoroughly investigated sites are the settlements of Tall Arpachiya (excavated by a British expedition in 1933) and Yarim-Tepe II. The small settlements were situated on rivers; they were densely built up with one-room mud-brick tholos-type houses, with attached rectangular outbuildings, which sometimes had stoves or hearths, including kilns for baking pottery. The economy was based on land cultivation and stock raising. Among the finds were stone querns and sickles, scorched grains of various varieties of wheat and barley, and the bones of domestic animals, including cows, sheep, goats, and dogs. Also found were numerous tools made of bone. There were various types of pottery, decorated with painted geometric or animal motifs in brown on a pinkish or yellowish background. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic clay figurines and several copper objects, including a seal, have been found. The dead were usually buried in catacombs or pits; cremation was also practiced.


Masson, V. M. Sredniaia Asiia i Drevnii Vostok. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Merpert, N. Ia., and R. M. Munchaev. “Rannezemledel’cheskie poseleniia Severnoi Mesopotamii” Sovetskaia arkheologiia, 1971, no. 3.
Oppenheim, M. F. Tell Halaf, vols. 1–4. Berlin, 1943–62.
Mallowan, M. E., and J. C. Rose. The Excavations at Tall Arpachiyah, 1933. London, 1935.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.