Early Settled Communities

Here one of the earliest villages on the Shahrizor Plain was built and lived in around 10,000 years ago. At this time communities were developing new ways of living that are the foundation our lives today. Communities were changing from mobile hunter-gathering ways of life, to larger settled communities living in well-built mudbrick houses supported by early agriculture, growing crops and managing and domesticating animals.

The site was first surveyed by the Iraqi Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in 1943. From 2011 large scale archaeological excavations have been conducted by a joint team from the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq KRG and the University of Reading, UK.

Abundant Water and Biodiverse Environments

The large spring here is fed by clear underground waters from the mountains and together with the rich soils and hilly slopes has provided plentiful water and biodiverse environments for people, plants, and animals for many thousands of years.

The area attracted the earliest farmers here 10,000 years ago. They fished, hunted wild boar and harvested reeds in the marshes and river. They grew crops, herded goat and gathered wild plants and snails on the rich soils and hilly slopes.

Today, only 4% of animals are wild. To preserve these rich water-supplies, farmlands and wildlife, we need to protect them from climate change, pollution and damage.

Daily Life in the Neolithic

The people who first lived here made their houses from clay bricks and built clay ovens to cook their food and keep warm. Large pestles and mortars were used to grind grain and tools were shaped from stone to use as knives. Reeds from the river were harvested to make baskets and mats. Bone needles were used to sew materials such as animal skins.

The Neolithic village of Bestansur used locally available materials for everyday life and also had contact with people hundreds of kilometres away. We find stone from Turkey and Iran and shells from the Mediterranean Sea at Bestansur. People connected 10,000 years ago through a network of villages who exchanged materials and ideas and technology.

People in the Neolithic village used natural materials for their daily life and repaired objects when they broke. This was more sustainable and better for the environment than the plastics that we use today and throw away.