This book was written in 1991–1992 but incorporates elements of research that I carried out much earlier, in fact, since the beginning of the 1970s. It is an account of my work over a period of time when I was labouring ad maiorem Orientis antiquissimi gloriam only in my spare time, having had, principally for existential reasons, quite different official commitments. A further impulse towards the writing of this text has been constituted by my lectures on the archaeology of ancient Mesopotamia at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University, Prague, in 1982–1983 and then in 1990–1991. Things have changed considerably since 1993 and now courses on ancient Oriental archaeology have been included in the curricula of two other universities in the Czech Republic. I greatly appreciate the interest in my book expressed by colleagues both at home and abroad, as well as the decision by Routledge to launch a new edition of this treatise, on which I worked for most of the years 2000–2001. As to the spatiotemporal dimension of this book, ‘Mesopotamia’ is to be understood in terms of the present territory of the Republic of Iraq. Sites outside this are cited for parallels but not systematically investigated. ‘Ancient’ means from the earliest human occupation of Mesopotamia down to 2334 BC when a fully fledged territorial state emerged in the territory in question.