The Ubaid period (ca. 5300 to 4000 bce) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The tell of al-'Ubaid, west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate has given its name to the prehistoric Pottery Neolithic to Chalcolithic culture, which represents the earliest settlement on the alluvial plain of southern Mesopotamia. The Ubaid culture had a long duration beginning before 5300 bce and lasting until the beginning of the Uruk period, c. 4000 bce. The invention of the wheel and the beginning of the Chalcolithic period fall into the Ubaid period.
Ubaid culture is characterised by large village settlements, characterised by multiroomed rectangular mud-brick houses and the appearance of the first temples of public architecture in Mesopotamia, with a growth of a two tier settlement hierarchy of centralised large sites of more than 10 hectares surrounded by smaller village sites of less than 1 hectare. Domestic equipment included a distinctive fine quality buff or greenish coloured pottery decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint; tools such as sickles were often made of hard fired clay in the south. But in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used.
Tell al-'Ubaid is a low, relatively small site. The mound is an oblong about 500 meters north to south and 300 meters east to west and extends about 2 meters above ground level. The majority of the remains are from the Ubaid Period, with an Early Dynastic temple at the highest point.
The site was first worked by Henry Hall of the British Museum in 1919. Later, C. L. Woolley excavated there in 1923 and 1924, followed by Seton Lloyd and Pinhas Delougaz in 1937, the later working for the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The lower level of the site featured large amounts of Ubaid pottery and associated kilns, as well as a cemetery and some finds from the Jemdet Nasr period. The temple of Ninhursag at the summit was on a cleared oval similar to that at Khafajah. The wall surr...