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Ancient city looks like first victim of urban war 6,000-YEAR-OLD TOWN SUCCUMBED TO FIRE,MISSILES
Lexington Herald-Reader ^ | February 11, 2007 | By Ron Grossman, Chi cago Tribune

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.


TOPICS: Extended News; Syria
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs; habubakabira; hamoukar; syria; tellbrak; tellhamoukar

1 posted on 02/17/2007 11:31:18 AM PST by aculeus
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To: SunkenCiv

Ping.


2 posted on 02/17/2007 11:34:39 AM PST by BlackVeil
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To: aculeus

Urban warfare is almost as old as urban living - and it should have been evident before this discovery.


3 posted on 02/17/2007 11:35:04 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: aculeus

Religion of peace was peaceful even before there was a religion of peace.


4 posted on 02/17/2007 11:35:50 AM PST by GSlob
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To: aculeus
Two rules for articles on archeology which are permanently neglected by those "professional" journalists.

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.

5 posted on 02/17/2007 12:03:58 PM PST by SolidWood (Attack Iran NOW!)
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To: Spktyr

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.


6 posted on 02/17/2007 12:06:26 PM PST by seowulf
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To: SolidWood

'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'.


7 posted on 02/17/2007 1:06:38 PM PST by jmcenanly (Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy. -- Robert A. Heinlein)
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To: aculeus

http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/05/051216.hamoukar-photos.shtml

Artifacts from Hamoukar


8 posted on 02/17/2007 2:43:35 PM PST by Fred Nerks (Read THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD free pdf download. Link on my bio page.)
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To: aculeus

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.


9 posted on 02/17/2007 3:34:08 PM PST by Bon mots
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To: aculeus

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.


10 posted on 02/17/2007 3:48:10 PM PST by freemike
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To: Bon mots

Maybe it was 600 meters square.


11 posted on 02/17/2007 4:10:45 PM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: BlackVeil

Thanks!

New Details of First Major Urban Battle Emerge
CCNews | 1/17/07
Posted on 01/17/2007 9:03:09 AM EST by Valin
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1768859/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=hamoukar


12 posted on 02/17/2007 4:40:05 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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)

13 posted on 02/17/2007 4:42:19 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, February 15, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: freemike
Cities became necessary as soon as we had any sort of technology or craftsmanship. The potter gets a carpenter and stonemason to make his potters wheel, which he uses to make pots to sell to their wives.

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

14 posted on 02/17/2007 4:55:47 PM PST by SauronOfMordor (Never try to teach a pig to sing -- it wastes your time and it annoys the pig)
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To: jmcenanly
'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'

Spitballs?

15 posted on 02/17/2007 6:18:40 PM PST by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
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To: Old Professer
Maybe it was 600 meters square.

Most archeologists, and all journalists, don't know the difference...

IMPROVEMENT?

16 posted on 02/17/2007 6:23:28 PM PST by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
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To: jmcenanly

Correct. But how many "headline-readers" know this?


17 posted on 02/18/2007 7:40:21 AM PST by SolidWood (Attack Iran NOW!)
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


18 posted on 07/29/2011 10:46:06 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Yes, as a matter of fact, it is that time again -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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