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Most importantly, archaeologists believe that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer. The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged. In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.
Archaeological discovery suggests that civilizations advanced enough to reach the size and organizational structure that was necessary to be considered a city and could have emerged before the advent of a written language. Previously it was believed that a system of written language was a necessary predecessor of that type of complex city. Until now, the oldest cities with developed seals and writing were thought to be Sumerian Uruk and Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia.
The evidence at Hamoukar indicates that some of the fundamental ideas behind cities—including specialization of labor, a system of laws and government, and artistic development—may have begun earlier than was previously believed. The discovery of a large city is exciting for archaeologists. While they have found small villages and individual pieces that date much farther back than Hamoukar, nothing compares to the discovery of this size. Discoveries have been made here that have never been seen before, including materials from Hellenistic and Islamic civilizations.
Excavation by a joint Syrian-American expedition (by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities) has been conducted since 1999.
Excavation work undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has shown that this city was destroyed by warfare by around 3500 BC-—probably the earliest urban warfare attested so far in the archaeological record of the Near East. Contiuned excavations in 2008 and 2010 expand on that. 
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-  Clemens D. Reichel, Hamoukar, pp. 65-77 in Oriental Institute 2005-2006 Annual Report
-  Clemens D. Reichel, Hamoukar, pp. 59-68 in Oriental Institute 2006-2007 Annual Report
-  Clemens D. Reichel, Hamoukar, pp. 76-82 in Oriental Institute 2007-2008 Annual Report
-  Clemens D. Reichel, Hamoukar, pp. 77-87 in Oriental Institute 2008-2009 Annual Report
- "Archaeologists Unearth a War Zone 5,500 Years Old"
- , Clemens D. Reichel, Excavations at Hamoukar Syria, in Oriental Institute Fall 2011 News and Notes, no. 211, pp. 1-9, 2011
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- Hamoukar Project Homepage at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago
- Video on Hamoukar Expedition at the University of Chicago website
- "In the Ruins: Tell Hamoukar", New York Times Science Video (January 16, 2007).
- "New details of first major urban battle emerge along with clues about civilization’s origins", press release by University of Chicago News Office (January 16, 2007).
- "University of Chicago-Syrian team finds first evidence of warfare in ancient Mesopotamia", press release by University of Chicago News Office (December 16, 2005).
- "Ruins in Northern Syria Bear the Scars of a City’s Final Battle" by John Wilford, New York Times (January 16, 2007)