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ARCHAEOLOGY

Urban sprawl 6,000 years ago

CHICAGO - The remains of a 6,000-year-old city, believed to be one of the world's oldest, has been found in northeastern Syria under a mound known as Tell Hamoukar. The discovery of such a complex urban organization suggests that civilization arose earlier than previously believed. Other cities dating back to 4,000 BC have been discovered south of Tell Hamoukar in what was Sumeria and is now Iraq.

If Hamoukar was developing into a city at the same time as the Sumerians were building cities, it's possible that ideas for urban development came from an even earlier culture, says McGuire Gibson of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, which made the find. This summer, the archaeologists will continue to dig in search of confirmation that the site is that of a previously unknown early civilization.

ASTRONOMY

Lost & Found Planets Dept.

Astronomers said Friday they had rediscovered a "lost" minor planet, named 719 Albert, which was last seen in 1911. The body, actually an asteroid, makes a complete orbit of the sun every 4.28 years, the team at the Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., said. The faint asteroid swings closest to Earth every 30 years, but Albert has long eluded astronomers.

Postcards from Mars

PASADENA, CALIF. - NASA has made available 20,000 pictures of Mars for viewing by the general public on the Internet. The archived photos at www.msss.com/moc-gallery/ are the result of 687 days of photography by the Mars Global Surveyor orbiting the Red Planet between September 1997 and August 1999. The photos don't have any explanatory text, allowing amateur astronomers to "experience them the same way that Mars Global Surveyor Scientists do," according to Ken Edgett, a scientist at Malin Space Systems in San Diego, which operates the probe's camera.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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