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Hamoukar


Ancient settlement from approx. 4000 BCE in northeastern modern Syria, between the Tigris and Euphrates river, just kilometres from the Iraqi border.
Hamoukar is now considered by some archaeologists to be among the world's earliest cities because excavations during the last five years have shown that elements of its civilization developed independently of the Uruk and Ur civilization in southern Mesopotamia, traditionally called "Cradle of Civilization."
Hamoukar may have been developed as an outpost to provide raw materials like wood, stone and metals for southern urban centers like Ur and Uruk which lacked them. Many stamps and seals found in the central area seem to suggest that Hamoukar was a storage and distribution center for commodities.
The area excavated so far shows two large complexes around square courtyards. Their function seems to be non-domestic with a large kitchen supplying food for more than a single household.
Little architectural furnishings have been found to date, but in one of the storage rooms there were numerous clay "eye idols" which may have been connected with cultic activities.
Although the layout of the tripartite buildings may betray an influence from the South and some seal designs show motives found in parts of southern Mesopotamia, all the pottery prior to the city's destruction around 3500 BCE is of local character. After the destruction, however, the evidence of the pottery clearly shows the presence and influence of the Uruk culture. This may insist that Hamoukar developed independently from the urban centers in the South.
Especially interesting in the light of the city's destruction in 3500 BCE are the finds of over 1200 oval-shaped clay bullets (4 centimetres in diameter) and over 120 clay balls (5-10 centimetres in diameter). Lined up in a water basin, anxiously awaiting use in the city's defense, these quiet testimonies of the last battle at one of civilization's earliest cities failed to stop the onslaught.

History
4000-3500 BCE: Rise of civilization in Ur and Uruk Hamoukar may already be thriving at this point, employing specialized labor, systems of laws and government, usage of seals and other art forms.
3500: Hamoukar's independence ends with battle causing buildings and walls to collapse and burn, probably an invasion from cities in the southern Mesopotamia.
1999 CE: US/Syrian excavations begin.




By Dave Zersen