CRAFTS
   Professional specialization was a result of urbanization, which began in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium B.C. Archaic lexical lists record the terms for professions, which include those of craftworkers. They were attached to the “great organizations” (templesand palaces), where they were supplied with raw materials from a “craft storehouse” and given at least subsistence rations. Specialist archives from the Third Dynasty of Ur and Mari show how tightly craft production was organized under the supervision of particular administrators, which recorded in minute detail all the expenditures on materials and rations measured against output. Some crafts, especially those associated with textiles, concentrated large numbers of workers, including women and children, in specialist workrooms. Noxious and noisy trades, such as tanning and metalwork, were conducted in special quarters of the city. State- or temple-controlled manufactories also used slavesas laborers. Little is known about the training of craftsmen but since the personnel lists show several generations of the same family involved in particular trades, it is likely that children learned the necessary skills from their parents.
   The goods were distributed and marketed by the institutions. Luxury products were consumed by elite households and the temples but also exported by merchants. There were also local markets for more mundane wares, such as pottery, tools, and household equipment (grindstones, pestles, etc.). Some of the lexical lists dedicated to material culture provide linguistic evidence of the highly developed craft industries in Mesopotamia. They include lists of objects made from metal, stone, wood, reed, leather, bones, precious stones, shells, pearls, and cloth such as wool, linen, and possibly silk. Quantities of the more durable of such items have been discovered in archaeological excavations.
   See also ART; CYLINDER SEALS; TEXTILES.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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