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Archeologists Find Ruins of 6,000-Year-Old City

May 25, 2000

Archeologists have uncovered the ruins of a 6,000-year-old city in Syria, a find that suggests that urban civilization rose earlier than had been believed. Scientists from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute found a protective city wall and the ruins under a huge mound in northeastern Syria known as Tell Hamoukar.

Previously, the only cities uncovered by archeologists dating back to 4000 BC were to the south in Sumeria, in southern Mesopotamia. The area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, in what is now Iraq, has often been dubbed the "cradle of civilization." The discovery at Hamoukar, dating from the same period, suggests that ideas behind cities may have predated the Sumerians, said McGuire Gibson of the Oriental Institute, who presented the findings Monday at a meeting in Denmark.

--Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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