Commenting on the ‘manifest continuities in monumental temple architecture at ancient Eridu as well as Uruk’, Adams (1981:59) posits, from the Ubaid period onward, ‘fundamental cultural continuity within the major centres of settlement [as] beyond question’. As the ritual and organizational centre of the original communities, the temples were a special institution in and of the community, not only symbolizing its unity and its relationship to the cosmos, but serving also as the central-place focus. In this sense, as we shall shortly see, the temple supplanted whatever chiefly symbolic or redistributive functions there may have been, and thus served as an institutional barrier to any direct continuity of overall social leadership from a putative tribal condition to an urban one. Anticipating the argument, we can say that the cities of Mesopotamia did not form around a chiefly residence or government centre, as so many did, for instance in Africa. The processes involved are quite different in kind, not in degree alone. The Neolithic of the Near East was on such a broad front technically, socially, and geographically, that, like the Industrial Revolution, it developed both a momentum and a settlement pattern of its own, a distinctiveness heightened by the exigencies of the alluvium.