Halaf Culture {Mesopotamia Unit}

Halaf Culture Homeschool Lesson

The Halaf culture is a prehistoric period of history which developed from the pottery neolithic era of the Natufians. There are three such cultures (Halaf, Sumarran and Ubaid), half being the oldest.  

Read More: Natufian People – the very first known settled hunters and gatherers, who lived in the Levant region of Mesopotamia during the pre-pottery Neo-lithic Era

Also, do check out my MEGA Mesopotamia Unit Study post to find out just where the Natufian people fit into the history of Mesopotamia. This huge post has lots of printable, videos, science experiments and, as always, stacks of suggestions for easy hands on activities you can do with your children! I am always adding new stuff to this post so do go and check it out.

Where Was the Halaf Culture?

The Halaf people existed between 6100 – 5100 BCE in the fertile valley of the Khabur River which flows through south-eastern Turkey, Syria and Northern Iraq. The archeologists named it after Tell Halaf in northeastern Syria where it was first discovered. We added some Halaf sites to our paper mache map:

Halaf Culture

There was enough rainfall here for them not to have to worry too much about droughts and irrigation.  They lived in both circular (Tholoi) and rectangular houses made of clay bricks, straw and limestone boulders, in small villages.

I have made some notepages to go along with this lesson which you can download and print, should you wish:

Halaf Culture Pottery

The Halaf culture were known for their fine ceramics, which showed a high level of craftsmanship.  Here you can see a plate and a bowl, which, when compared to the Natufian plaster bowls we made, you can see were finer and more beautiful, decorated with painted geometric patterns.

Read More: My disastrous attempts at demonstrating how to make Natufian White Ware and Neolithic Figurines

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Coiled Pots

The Halaf people made their ceramics from hand coiled pots. Coiling pots is the oldest ceramic technique and has been carried out across most continents at some time in their history. These coiled pots are used for storing or cooking food, for ceremonial purposes and are often decorated.

I have done a quick video showing you how to create these types of pots:

Coiling pots means taking long strands (or coils) of clay and coiling the ropes into the pot shape desired. The craftsmen would then pinch together the strands and smooth them out until the pot is formed. The potters left their creations to dry, before painting them with predominantly geometric patterns. I have created some printable pictures of the two pots I attempt to recreate in the video below, so do feel free to download and print out:

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Halaf Culture

The First Ever Stamp Seals

The Halaf culture saw the earliest known appearance of stamp seals in Mesopotamia.  The Halaf craftsmen created these from carved stone and usually featured geometric patterns.  They used these stamps to impress their picture into soft clay:

I have also created some printable pictures of the Halaf Culture Stamp Seals for you to use whilst you carve your own. These can be downloaded below (This also includes a museum label to use in your end of unit presentation):

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Halaf Culture Stamp Seals

The Halaf people seemed to die out around 5000BC. It seems most likely that they were simply absorbed into the up and coming Ubaid culture, rather than there being any major catastrophe causing their demise.

We will be covering the Ubaid culture in another post.