Skip to comments.Ancient city looks like first victim of urban war 6,000-YEAR-OLD TOWN SUCCUMBED TO FIRE,MISSILES
Posted on 02/17/2007 11:31:13 AM PST by aculeus
Archaeologists tend to uncover puzzling questions along with ancient artifacts, and so it was when a team from the University of Chicago discovered a long-vanished city, virtually 6,000 years old, in eastern Syria.
The problem was the city wasn't where it should have been.
"A hundred years of scholarship taught that urban life began further south, in Mesopotamia," said Clemens Reichel of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, referring to the name for ancient Iraq. And unlike the cities in that area, Hamoukar isn't on a waterway.
Now Reichel thinks he's found a critical piece of the puzzle: obsidian. Though thousands of years old, the piece of shiny volcanic rock he held up in his office earlier this month still held an edge that felt sharp enough to shave with. ("Actually, I did that with a piece we found at the site," he said.)
Over several excavating seasons, his team has recovered hundreds of finely fashioned obsidian cutting tools in Hamoukar -- industrial equipment for a pre-industrial age. Large deposits of obsidian were known to have existed just north of Hamoukar, in what is now Turkey.
Reichel theorizes that raw material was imported by the inhabitants of Hamoukar, sharpened and honed by local artisans and shipped downstream to Mesopotamia. Food was presumably imported with the profits.
When Reichel and his colleagues first reported their excavations, beginning in 1999, what was most impressive wasn't the contents of the site but its sheer size -- and dramatic evidence of its fate. Six hundred square meters of ruined city walls and buildings silently witnessed a flourishing urban center that had been abruptly destroyed, about 3,500 BC.
There was evidence of a massive fire, and its rooms were littered with hand-shaped missiles, designed to be flung with a sling. Whatever had brought Hamoukar into existence, it hadn't died of natural causes. Some invading force destroyed it in an early instance of the kind of street-by-street combat currently engulfing Iraq.
"In archaeology we can only say something is the oldest until the next discovery," Reichel said. "But so far, it's the earliest example we have of a theater of urban warfare."
Archaeologists are fascinated by the evolution of cities, noted Guillermo Algaze, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. They are where the human race took a great leap forward, comparable in its consequences only to the Industrial Revolution, many millennia later.
For most of their time on Earth, humans lived in small groups eking out a precarious living by hunting and subsistence agriculture. Then came what archaeologists call the urban revolution, as substantially larger groups gathered together, specialized trades appeared and the hallmarks of civilization -- commerce and writing -- were developed.
"Somehow people were persuaded that, if they came together to live in a city, they could have a better life than if everybody stayed home and produced their own food," said Reichel.
Scholars long assumed that urban life was a rare invention, with cities emerging in Mesopotamia about 6,000 years ago. From that beginning, they spread up the Tigris and Euphrates River valleys to the larger Middle East, then to Greece, Rome and Western Europe.
Yet the excavations at Hamoukar revealed a city at least as old as its supposed predecessors far to the south.
© 2007 Lexington Herald-Leader and wire service sources.
Urban warfare is almost as old as urban living - and it should have been evident before this discovery.
Religion of peace was peaceful even before there was a religion of peace.
1) No misleading attention-grabbing headline with anachronistic mumbo-jumbo. When you talk about "missiles" taking down an almost prehistoric town, readers expect some time machine or Aliens...
2)Some invading force destroyed it in an early instance of the kind of street-by-street combat currently engulfing Iraq.
I hate those lame attempts to project current politics into something which happened 5000 years ago... Idiots.
Some things never change. The barbarian hordes are always at the gates, and sometimes they get in. Sometimes they break in; too often they're invited.
'Missile' is the term for any weapon that is thrown at an enemy, rather than held in a hand. A rock from a sling, a thrown spear and an arrow are all 'missiles'.
Artifacts from Hamoukar
This "city" was only 600 square meters? That's about the size of 2 1/2 average American homes. It is less than 1/4 acre.
Somehow people were persuaded that, if they came together to live in a city, they could have a better life than if everybody stayed home and produced their own food," said Reichel.
Somehow?? I bet this person has a college degree. That is about as smart as saying "Somehow people were persuaded that, if they avoided pain they could have a better life than if they stayed at home, scraped their skins raw with stones and then set themselves on fire."
We've only had cities since the beginning of time.
Maybe it was 600 meters square.
New Details of First Major Urban Battle Emerge
CCNews | 1/17/07
Posted on 01/17/2007 9:03:09 AM EST by Valin
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
Gods, Graves, Glyphs PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
As soon as you have people specializing in skills, they find it useful to live near the people who supply them, and who buy their products
Most archeologists, and all journalists, don't know the difference...
Correct. But how many "headline-readers" know this?
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.