'shock and awe' in the fourth millennium BC

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a city destroyed in a massive battle 5500 years ago.

The Mesopotamian settlement lies in Hamoukar, on the northernmost tip of Syria, 8 kilometres from the Iraqi border. In 3500 BC the 13-hectare development was subjected to a devastating attack, its edifices crumbling beneath a crushing hail of bullet-shaped projectiles.

The evidence of the destruction was uncovered in October and November 2005 by an expedition coordinated by the University of Chicago, US, and the Syrian Department of Antiquities.

During earlier excavations, archaeologists found buildings that had been destroyed or severely damaged by fire. The latest expedition revealed 1200 oval clay “bullets” measuring 2.5 centimetres in diameter and 4 centimetres in length. It also unearthed 120 heavier projectiles measuring 5 centimetres by 10 centimetres.

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