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University of Chicago studies prehistoric urban centre

8th April 2010

Archaeologists are studying a site in the Middle East which established the basis of urban life before the invention of the wheel.

A team from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute is working at the mound of Tell Zeidan in Syria's Euphrates River Valley to learn about the prehistoric society which inhabited the area from between 6000 and 4000 BC.

The project is uncovering evidence of the existence of obsidian trade, pottery production and copper metallurgy in Tell Zeidan and suggests it was one of the first Middle Eastern societies to develop social classes based on power and wealth.

Expedition leader Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute, commented: 'This enigmatic period saw the first development of widespread irrigation, agriculture, centralised temples, powerful political leaders and the first emergence of social inequality as communities became divided into wealthy elites and poorer commoners.'

Last month, Professor Gershon Galil, of the department of Bible studies at the University of Haifa, claimed that Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Israel's Elah Valley is the site of Neta'im, which is mentioned in the Book of Chronicles.

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