Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Site of Ancient Urban War Threatened by Modern War

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

HAMOUKAR, SYRIA—A war going on today is threatening to destroy a site known as place where the earliest instance of urban warfare took place, around 3500 B.C. Ongoing fighting in Syria, which has already cost more than 60,000 people their lives and displaced more than a million others, could impact Hamoukar, which 5,500 years ago was laid waste by a band of attackers likely from the neighboring city of Uruk who wanted its copper. According to archaeologists who have worked at Hamoukar in the past, the area has no antiquities authority and is currently being threatened most severely by construction in the area. Also, artifacts taken from the site and put in a museum 150 miles southwest of the site, a region that has seen a great deal more fighting than Hamoukar, are in peril from looting. Whereas the site itself is currently unaffected, all it would take is a new group of insurgents to move into the area to put it at much higher risk.