Lecture: The Fertile Crescent: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an archaeology class. The professor is discussing a region known as the Fertile Crescent. Professor: The beginning of urbanization, the first cities in history, is thought to have occurred at an area in the Middle East, called the Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent is the area that extends north and west from the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and it's the southern part of the Fertile Crescent that's typically associated with the first cities. The cultures there spread to the north, but there has been hints that it's not as simple as all this. And the time period we're going to talk about, around 2,000 B.C.E., the southern region of the Fertile Crescent area, was dominated by a civilization called the Akkadians. The Akkadians are often described as the first group to establish control, sort of the first imperial authority that dominated other groups in this area, and one of those other groups at that time was known as the Hurrians. Now, the Hurrians were believed to have originated in the mountains to the north and in the past, researchers considered them to the minor culture in the scope of things, and for good reasons. The Hurrian language seemed to be unrelated to the other languages of the southern Fertile Crescent. And there are very few historical references to them. The Hurrians were seen to be latecomers to the region, whose culture was absorbed into the regional Akkadian culture. But researchers were intrigued, intrigued by things like references to Hurrian mythological characters which seem to have widespread influence. And by references to a great capital city, a city called Urkesh. But where was Urkesh? Well, very recently a pair of archaeologists made an interesting discovery. They have working on a site for eight years when they found a clay seal that dated back to 2,300 B.C.E. Seals were carved cylinders used to stamp a name or symbol, indicating ownership of an item. These impressions are in cuneiform script, the common script of the era and we're able to read them. This seal gave the man's name, a typical Hurrian man's name, followed by the title "The King of Urkesh". Well, this has convinced archaeologists that they have found the lost city. Along with king's seal, they found hundreds of others, many of these bear the name of the queen. And remember, these seals signify ownership. So here, the queen, not the king, was claiming the ownership of property. This was a really powerful queen. But the really important thing to know here was that her name was an Akkadian name. Remember I said the Hurrians were thought to be absorbed to the Akkadian culture? Well now, things now look to be a different. I mean, a Hurian king with an Akkadian queen doesn't sound like one culture has dominated the other. It sounds like the two cultures have arrived at some kind of alliance. So we're starting to think the Hurrians as a long lasting and influential culture. We see Urkesh did indeed exist, and it was a powerful city, inhabited by as many as 20,000 people. Of course, the city was eventually conquered, but now we're not sure by whom. And the interesting thing is that afterwards, a sacred central area was left intact. It remained that way for a total of a thousand years or so. And that implies that the cultures that later controlled the city may have been deeply influenced by the religious practices of the Hurrians. Well, there may be more surprises to come. One linguist noticed that the style of Hurrian names is similar to that of Akkadian names. And that may mean that there's a more ancient connection between the two groups. That's a pretty radical theory, but it fits in with the possibility that the Hurrians came into the region earlier than we thought and may have been a part of a separate urbanization movement independent of the civilization of the southern part of the Fertile Crescent. But that's not get too far ahead of the evidence. I want to go back and look in more detail at what they actually found.