Tell el ‘Oueili

Présentation du site

Discovered in 1967 by André Parrot and Robert Mac Adams, Tell el ‘Oueili, near Larsa, is the oldest known site in Lower Mesopotamia. In 1983, a deep borehole uncovered an unsuspected phase of the Obeid culture, dubbed Obeid “zero”, dating sedentary occupation of the region to the 7th millennium BC. At the other end of the period, excavations starting in 1976 documented a final phase of the Obeid, in the 5th millennium (Obeid 5), during which the village was abandoned and replaced by pottery workshops, which remained in use until the recent Uruk phase (4th millennium). In 2019, work resumed, focusing on the extensive excavation of the Obeid 0 village. 600 square metres have been excavated (as of 2021), revealing part of the structure of the site, a dense fabric of blocks separated by narrow streets. A building dedicated to food processing (building B110) is at the heart of a vast storage area (granaries) surrounded by housing (dwelling B37/41). The large quantity of material collected – fine and ordinary pottery, spindle whorls, labrets, millstones, ploughshares (the oldest known) and lithic tools – documents the daily life of a prehistoric village in the 7th millennium, while the extent of the technological and stylistic differences with the later phases of the Obeid puts the question of the origins of this culture on a new footing.