Iraq Dig Uncovers 5,000-Year-Old Pub Restaurant

Archaeologists in southern Iraq have uncovered the remains of a tavern dating back to 2700 BCE they hope will illuminate the lives of ordinary people in the world’s first cities. Eating out seems to have been as popular 5,000 years ago as today.

I read the news headline of this 5000-year-old uncovered in Iraq. The fact that it was frequented by people from middle class attracted my interest. I found it interesting, and I am blogging here quoting from the news by AFP.

The joint team from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pisa discovered the remains of a primitive refrigeration system, a large oven, benches for diners, and around 150 serving bowls in the ruins of ancient Lagash, northeast of the modern city of Nasiriya, which was already known to have been one of the first urban centers of the Sumerian civilization of ancient Iraq.

During the fourth millennium BCE, about 6,000 years ago, the mouth of the Persian Gulf lay some 150 miles farther northwest than it does today. Close to that ancient shoreline sat a trio of settlements — Girsu, Lagash, and Nigin — which together made up the larger city-state also known as Lagash. For more than 150 years, the three cities were unified as a single powerful and wealthy political entity. It reached its largest extent by the end of the Early Dynastic period when it was destroyed by Lugalzagesi (2358 – 2334 BCE) of Uruk.

Archaeologists working in Iraq have uncovered the remains of a tavern dating back nearly 5,000 years (Photo by Asaad Niazi/AFP)

Researchers working in Tell al-Hiba, the ancient city of Lagash discovered that the pub, hidden just 19 inches below the surface, was split into an open-air dining area and a room containing benches, an oven, even an industrial-sized oven, a moisture-wicking ancient “fridge,” to keep food cool, and dozens of conical bowls, and ancient food remains — fish and animal bones were found in the bowls, alongside evidence of beer drinking, which was widespread among the Sumerians.

What surprised the researchers most was the large “tavern” they uncovered, complete with benches, a type of clay refrigerator, an oven, and the remains of storage vessels, many of which still contained food. The find provides another glimpse into the lives of everyday people who dwelled some 5,000 years ago in this part of the world.

“So, we’ve got the refrigerator, we’ve got the hundreds of vessels ready to be served, benches where people would sit… and behind the refrigerator is an oven that would have been used… for cooking food,” project director Holly Pittman told AFP.

“At more than 450 hectares, Lagash was one of the largest sites in southern Iraq during the 3rd millennium,” Pittman says. “The site was of major political, economic, and religious importance.” Uncovering a tavern supports the perspective of Pittman and her team that society was not organized into just elites and enslaved people — the previous prevailing view — but included an ancient middle class.

The Lagash area, close to the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was dubbed the “garden of the gods” by the ancients for its fertility and gave rise to a string of Sumerian cities dating back to the early dynastic period.

The world’s first cities developed in what is now southern Iraq, after agricultural surpluses from the domestication of the first crops allowed the emergence of new social classes not engaged directly in food production.

A detailed analysis would need to be carried out on the samples taken during the excavations. Pittman said the team was eager to learn more about the occupations of the people who used the tavern in its heyday in around 2700 BCE to throw new light on the social structure of the first cities.

13 thoughts on “Iraq Dig Uncovers 5,000-Year-Old Pub Restaurant

    1. You may say pre-organized faith period. Worship of Mother Nature, Gods and Goddesses began across the globe as humans started their journey of civilization. Initially the Goddess was more powerful as she represented fertility, power, war, etc. in Mesopotamia also.


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