Iraq Afghanistan Egypt (Bright Star) United States Department of Defense

Home Major Focus Areas Protecting Cultural Property Iraq Laws, Treaties & Enforcement Test Your Knowledge
History & Culture
Rediscovering the Past
Significant Sites
Iraq Cultural Property Law, 2002
The Impact of War on Iraq's Cultural Heritage

034. Hassuna (ancient name unknown)

Ninawa Governorate. On the west bank of the Tigris about 20 miles north-northwest of Mosul.

Dates: Hassuna period, circa 6000-5250 BC


Important prehistoric site, early agricultural village, which is the type site for the cultural assemblage defining this period.

Hassuna was excavated in 1943-44 and was found to represent an advanced village culture that apparently spread throughout northern Mesopotamia. At Hassuna itself, six layers of houses were uncovered, each progressively more substantial. Vessels and pottery dating to circa 5600–5350 BC were discovered. Similar wares found elsewhere in the Middle East show that even as early as the 6th millennium BC an extensive trade network existed in the region.

By circa 6000 B.C. people had moved to the foothills of northern Mesopotamia where there was enough rainfall to allow for "dry" agriculture, making them the first farmers in the region later known as Assyria. Along with farming, these early inhabitants made Hassuna style pottery (cream slip with reddish paint in linear designs). Hassuna people lived in small villages or hamlets ranging from two to eight acres. Even the largest Hassuna sites were smaller than Jericho had been 1000 years before and much smaller than Çatal Hüyük, which was still occupied in Anatolia. Probably few if any Hassuna villages exceeded 500 people.

At Tell Hassuna, adobe dwellings built around open central courts with fine painted pottery replace earlier levels with crude pottery. Hand axes, sickles, grinding stones, bins, baking ovens and numerous bones of domesticated animals reflect settled agricultural life. Female figurines have been related to worship and jar burials within which food was placed related to belief in afterlife. The relationship of Hassuna pottery to that of Jericho suggests that village culture was becoming widespread.

The ancient city of Hassuna is situated 22 miles south of Mosul and was found by Fuad Safar in 1942. Its height reaches seven meters above the valley that it lies on and occupational debris show a 200x150-meter rectangle. Excavations were undertaken at the campaigns of the years 1943 and 1944. The earliest evidences of a farming society in all over the world were found in the oldest levels of Hassuna (Ia, Ib and Ic). Despite no architectural remain was found in the oldest layers, it could be presupposed that a semi-nomadic society occupied the site and, according to the ashes of campfires found, lived in a kind of tent. At level II, remains of walls reach nearly one meter but it is still questionable that settlement planned. As a general view, we can suppose that, building tradition developed chronologically in the Hassuna sequence.

Prehistoric pottery of Hassuna can be divided into five ware groups. Coarse ware is generally made of straw tempered clay. This is the earliest pottery of Hassuna. Husking trays are oval shaped. The majority of the earliest bowls are burnished outside. Burnishing could be made with a pebble. Both coarse and burnished wares are seen in the earliest and second levels. Archaic painted ware is seen mostly in the levels Ic and II. Number of this ware group decreases in the level III and it totally disappears in the level IV. Hassuna standard ware, divided into incised, painted and both painted and incised groups. These ware groups reach their peak in levels IV and V.

Stone tools do not seem as qualified as those found at Jarmo. Both obsidian and flint were used to make tools. Turquoise is perhaps imported. Beads, pendants and some small ornaments exist. Figurines are most commonly shaped in the "mother goddess" type and made of baked clay.

  36° 27' 50.4000"
  36.464º N
  42° 57' 48.6000"
  42.9635º E

 Hassuna can be located on JOG
 map 1501ANJ3813. This GeoPDF
 map contains embedded coordinates
 and other data that can be viewed
 using Adobe Acrobat Reader for
 Windows with the free GeoPDF