Ancient Syrian City

By Jerilyn Watson

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

An international scientific team recently discovered the remains of a city that is almost six-thousand-years old. The city was found at Tell Hamoukar, in northeastern Syria. The finding suggests that organized community life, government, labor and industry may have developed differently than experts have believed.

Evidence found at Tell Hamoukar shows it was a city at least five-thousand-seven-hundred years ago. This was in the same general time period as the ancient country of Mesopotamia. For many years, experts have believed that organized community life began in Mesopotamia, which is now part of Iraq. School children usually are taught that this civilization process spread from Mesopotamia. But the finding of the city at Tell Hamoukar suggests that industry and government might also have spread from what is now Syria.

Mesopotamia was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. People settled in the area more than five-thousand-five-hundred years ago. It became known as Sumer. (SUE-mer). The Sumerians (Sue-MEHR-yans) created what scientists believed to be the world's first cities and civilization.

The international scientific team at Tell Hamoukar found several examples of civilization. They found part of a wall. They found containers that show that labor was divided among several workers. They also found seals or stamps that may have used for administrative purposes in some form of government. And they found huge ovens that could have been used to cook food for large numbers of people. Scientists had believed that this much progress could not have been made in Syria so long ago.

McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute reported about the Tell Hamoukar findings. He did so at the International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Middle East. The meeting was held last month in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The international team of archaeologists will continue to dig at Tell Hamoukar during the summer. They hope to find parts of religious centers and homes of the city's rulers. Such findings would help confirm that Tell Hamoukar is a newly discovered early civilization.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is ____________.

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