Biblical Paleoarcheology

The Pottery Puzzle

Article #19
Archeologists use pottery, more than anything, to assign sequence to early settlements. Pottery styles are supposed to have improved over thousands of years from areas of no pottery to the most ornate pottery. Such a sequence, however, is based on an enthusiasm to embrace the theory of human evolution rather than empirical facts. The best pottery is found near the center of the Fertile Crescent, which decreases in quality as we move away. This pattern supports the history of Genesis 9-11. The talented children of Noah produced high quality pottery as they settled near the landing site of the Ark. As grandchildren moved away to further regions, they created their own simpler local styles or put off making clay pots all together.

A typical map of pottery in the Near East is shown above. Pottery styles vary by region and have relatively little overlap. This would be explained because the grandchildren of Noah formed about 70 tribes that moved out and formed nations. Pottery can be divided into local pottery styles on the east and west and regional pottery styles in the center of the Fertile Crescent. To the West, we see five local pottery styles around the settlements of Catal Huyuk, Mersin, Ras Shamra (Ugarit), Byblos, and Jericho. Pottery to the east is not shown but was discussed in article #7 The First Pottery. These were also relatively local. The four pottery styles in the center are the most interesting and most studied because they spread over large regions.

Civilization began in the Fertile Crescent, downhill from the Mountains of Ararat

Halaf pottery has been found over an extensive region that measures three to five hundred miles east to west. “Knock-offs” are found in a region to its west that is labeled “Halaf-type”. The Hassuna type was centrally located in a smaller region. It was replaced by Halaf pottery. The Samarra¬†pottery type, on the other hand, does not overlap extensively with Halaf and covers an area of four hundred miles north to south, if we include exports found in the area of Eridu. The settlements of Tell Halaf, Hassuna, and Samarra are considered early centers of civilization, which began in the Fertile Crescent, not far from the landing place of the Ark. These might be associated with the three sons of Noah or some other tribal grouping. The extent of Halaf and Samarran pottery shows the high degree of cooperation that existed between settlements at this time. Such cooperation can be explained by the closeness of Noah’s children before the division of languages.

Hassuna bowl

Hassuna pottery

Halaf pottery
Halaf pottery

Samarra plate

Samarra pottery

The regional pottery shown above demonstrates artistic and technical abilities that were not equaled until the time of the Romans. No trail of pottery development leads from faraway lands to the Fertile Crescent. Pottery styles did spread, however, from centralized settlements outward. This is what we would expect to find if the exceptional children of Noah were the founders of civilization. Mining, raising animals, farming, and ceramics all began in the Fertile Crescent. The question then becomes, “Did unskilled people move into the Fertile Crescent and invent civilization?” or “Did the highly educated children of Noah send their children from the Fertile Crescent all over the world?”

One opinion needs mentioning. Until 2012, the oldest pottery was considered to have come from the Near East. Since that time, China is said to have the oldest pottery, which was found in Xianren Cave (1). It has been carbon dated to the Last Glacial Period. Biblical Paleoarcheology, however, combines all the secular ice ages into one ice age that lasted for five hundred years from the time of the Flood (2).

All of the pottery styles mentioned above could have been largely contemporary. They are found side-by-side and rarely one on top of the other. Great effort has been made to string them out over thousands of years, but this is not necessary (3).

Two pottery styles from Sumer are different from all the others: Ubaid and Uruk. For the first time, these pottery types spread over all of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent. Something happened that was unlike anything that had ever happened before. Could this be evidence of the phenomenon called Babel? Don’t miss next week’s post.


It’s interesting to note that the Xianren Cave (She an ren) is named after the ancient legend of the Eight Immortals, who were enlightened people that bestow life. They are sometimes pictured in a boat crossing a sea. Noah, his three sons, and their wives make eight. Is the Chinese legend of the eight immortals an ancient reference to Noah and the Flood?

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