Archaeologists Happy with Syrian Dig

CHICAGO, April 13 (UPI) — A team of U.S. and Syrian archaeologists is studying the mound of Tell Zeidan in Syria — an area not built upon or excavated for 6,000 years.

The U.S. team members from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute said the mound of Tell Zeidan is revealing a society rich in trade, copper metallurgy and pottery production. Scientists said artifacts recently found there are providing more support for the view that Tell Zeidan was among the first societies in the Middle East to develop social classes according to power and wealth. It is one of the largest sites of the Ubaid culture in northern Mesopotamia.

Covering about 31 acres, Tell Zeidan was situated where the Balikh River joins the Euphrates River in modern-day Syria. The location was at the crossroads of major, ancient trade routes in Mesopotamia that followed the course of the Euphrates River valley. The Ubaid period lasted from about 5300 to 4000 B.C.

“This enigmatic period saw the first development of widespread irrigation, agriculture, centralized temples, powerful political leaders and the first emergence of social inequality as communities became divided into wealthy elites and poorer commoners,” said Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute and a leader of the expedition.

Stein said the location’s potential for further discoveries is so great the project is likely to last for decades.

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