i had always heard that civilisation began in mesopotamia around 5000BC

but this is basically false or at least misleading - it started in anatolia up to 3000 years earlier with a smattering of proto-cities, the main one of which i'll be focusing on is Çatalhöyük

Çatalhöyük was founded around 7500BC and maintained a population of at most 10,000 people over nearly 2000 years, until its abandonment in 5700BC
it was a very dense urban settlement, with three-room houses crammed together in an irregular pattern with no intersecting roads - instead houses were accessible by ladders from the rooftops, which were effectively the 'streets' of Çatalhöyük
a distinctive and very important feature of the settlement was the TOTAL LACK of PUBLIC BUILDINGS; there were no temples, palaces, squares, collection places, instead all of the unearthed structures were similarly-sized domestic households
this is indicative of a remarkably egalitarian culture compared to the later mesopotamian city-states - and furthermore, probable gender equality; men and women died at similar ages and ate identical diets, enjoying equal status in society
the people of Çatalhöyük were healthy, helped by their ritual emphasis on cleanliness - their houses were separated into 'clean' and 'dirty' areas, distinguishing between soot-blackened workplaces and rigorously cleaned family areas - rubbish was also disposed of outside
despite the lack of temples, they had a complex religion with a wide range of deities, including a feminine 'fertility godess' (arguably antecendants of the later Cybele), animal figurines, and particularly shrines to aurochs in many houses
there was also 'secular' artwork, including hunting scenes, depictions of animals and arguably the worlds first map and landscape painting, showing the settlement itself in the shadow of the volcano overlooking it
so what we have is a developed urban centre that lasted for 2000 years, with a complex ritual culture, symbology, artwork, an egalitarian society and standards of cleanliness - i think by any common sense metric this is a civilised group of a people, so why isn't it?
because the definition of civilisation rests upon hierarchy, and centralised planning, which Çatalhöyük lacked; allegedly, the despotic and violently feuding sumerian city-states, marked by slavery and brutality were more civilised than this peaceful successful settlement
i would argue that the concerted effort it would take to avoid the development of any despotic hierarchy for 2000 years, and the standards of society, ritual, and construction seen at Çatalhöyük are much more 'civilised' than what came later in Mesopotamia
Çatalhöyük was by no means the only or even the first anatolian proto-city, there are others dating back to even 8000BC, its just the best documented, by far the largest and imo has the strongest claim to be the real start of civilisation

(look up Çayönü, Aşıklı Höyük)
Gobleki Tepe (also in antolia) COULD push civilisation back to 10,000BC - though from the 5% of the site that has been excavated it seems purely religious, imo the remaining area almost certainly conceals a city - but thats conjecture so im focusing on facts here
TLDR; the definition of civilisation is stupid, it did not begin in sumeria, and it started thosaunds of years earlier in anatolia
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