BERLIN (AFP) - A German archaeologist says he has found relics of "humanity's first war" in the north east of Syria in the form of balls of stone used as ammunition in the 4th century BC, the Die Zeit newspaper says in its edition due for publication on Thursday.
"We have there the oldest example of an offensive war," said Clemens Reichel, who is leading an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamoukar, on the border with Iraq, for the University of Chicago.
Reichel said that almost 6,000 years ago the city, whose fortifications were three metres (ten feet) thick, was besieged and reduced to ashes probably by attackers from southern Mesopotamia.
"It was not a little skirmish which took place here," said Reichel, who has been leading the dig since 2003. He spoke of a real "combat zone", to which the some 2,300 balls of stone and burned clay discovered at the main part of the site bear witness.