As early as the 7th millennium BC, cultures in the Near East began to create organised settlements with well-developed religious and funerary practices. The Halaf culture of Anatolia (southern Turkey) and Northern Mesopotamia, named after the Tell Halaf site in modern day Syria, is one example of such sophisticated early cultures. The Halaf culture flourished during the 6th millennium BC and was notable for its ceramic productions, both its intricately painted pottery and remarkable female figurines.
Terracotta was a common material used in the art of sculpture. Easy to shape and durable once baked this material provided a long lasting and detailed imagery of the ancient fertility goddesses. These female deities were embodied within the statuettes, their sexual characteristics and body areas associated with childbirth were fully displayed and exaggerated.