Obeid Culture

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Obeid Culture


(or Ubaid culture), an Aeneolithic archaeological culture (late sixth to first half of the fourth millennia B.C.) that flourished in Mesopotamia. It was identified by C. L. Woolley and named after Tell el-Obeid, located near the ancient city of Ur, in what is now Iraq.

At its first stage (late sixth to mid-fifth millennia B.C), it was an early farming culture, with painted pottery closely resembling that of the Hassunan culture. At its zenith (last third of the fifth and first half of the fourth millennia B.C), it was a highly developed culture, characterized by large settlements with mud-brick houses, monumental platform temples located in the center (the early layers of Eridu, Ur, and Uruk), and canals. Excavations uncovered pottery with monochrome, primarily geometrical, painted designs, clay female statuettes, seals, some copper articles, and various vessels. The population engaged in land cultivation and stock raising. By the mid-fourth millennium B.C., the Obeid culture had spread to northern Mesopotamia (Tepe Gaw-ra), where certain features of the preceding Halafian culture were also retained, and to Asia Minor (Mersin).

The influence of the Obeid culture can be seen in the remains of the material cultures of Lebanon, northwestern Iran, Transcaucasia, and Middle Asia. The Sumerian civilization developed out of the Obeid culture. (SeeHASSUNAN CULTURE; ERIDU; URUK; TEPE GAWRA; HALAFIAN CULTURE; MERSIN; and SUMER.)


Masson, V. M. Sredniaia Aziia i Drevnii Vostok. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.
Brentjes, B. Ot Shanidara do Akkada. Moscow, 1976. (Translated from German.)
Mellaart, J. The Earliest Civilizations of the Near East. London, 1965.


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