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The Halaf culture was first discovered on the eve of the first world war at Tell Halaf in eastern Syria. The beautifully made and elaborately decorated pottery of this culture made it a sensation in the archaeology of the ancient Near East in the early twentieth century, as no one had previously imagined that small and simple farming villages could have produced such beautiful vessels, nor in such large numbers. What is equally impressive today at the beginning of the twenty-first century is that the Halaf not only produced pretty things, but that this culture reversed the trend of small, regional cultural groups that we saw in the seventh millennium and grew to cover all of northern Mesopotamia, most of central Mesopotamia, and heavily influenced or even incorporated groups of people in south-eastern Anatolia and the northern Levant.

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