Although our perception of what happened in Mesopotamian prehistory is very incomplete, our knowledge has been extended considerably by recent excavations and archaeological studies. Much of this research has been more or less specifically devoted to various aspects of the early development of villages and village economy. From this one fact seems to emerge: in the Hassuna Period at least two clearly different cultural traditions can be distinguished. In northern Iraq villages with houses built in the tauf technique were dominant. They had an economy based on herding, hunting and dry-farming, and a specific series of painted, incised and plain types of pottery. By the middle of the 6th. millennium B.C. a different cultural tradition can be recognized in central Iraq. Its main characteristics are that the economy seems to be based primarily on experimental irrigation agriculture, and that the villages consist of houses built of mud-brick, some of them large and complex with buttressed walls. A distinctive type of painted pottery, the Samarran, is prevalent in villages of this tradition, for example Tell es-Sawwan, Choga Mami and Baghouz.
Samarran pottery has now been found at a great number of Mesopotamian sites. But in spite of this, little is still known of the origin and of the temporal and spatial development of the Samarran culture and its characteristic ceramics in central and southern Iraq.