A culture in the Near East at the end of the Neolithic Age. The original site from which it's named is Tell Halaf in north-eastern Syria, in the upper valley of the Khabur River. The culture extended through adjoining regions of what are known Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, and lasted very roughly between 6000 and 4500 BCE. In Mesopotamia it was succeeded by the Ubaid Period.

The characteristic sign of the culture is Halaf ware, an improved form of pottery with polychrome decoration, red, black, and brown, sometimes burnished. The ware and culture are also called Halafian.

The people of this culture lived in farming villages, not yet urban. Farming was by rainfall rather then irrigation, and there are no clear signs of the chiefdoms or larger states that were soon after to develop. They grew emmer wheat, two-rowed barley, and flax; and they kept cattle, sheep, and goats. There might have been a rudimentary marking of private property, because stamp seals have been found. This was before the use of anything like writing.

Some buildings that have been excavated are round, and have been perhaps inaccurately dubbed tholoi in reference to much later Greek structures. It is possible that some were temples. Although the original type site, the tell or mound of Halaf, was exacavated between 1899 and 1927, another site at Tell Arpachiyeh has proved more valuable for the study of Halafian society.

The site of Halaf appeared in the historical record a few thousand years later: between about 894 and 808 BCE it was a city-state called Gozan, in vassalage to the Assyrian Empire, until Queen Semiramis reduced it to a province.

http://ancientneareast.tripod.com/171.html is an extract from A.M.T. Moore, The Neolithic of the Levant, Oxford, 1978, and is the most detailed
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