PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet, 62/2000 - 25 May 2000
----------------------------


     "Assuming that the comet [1997 K2] followed a fairly normal light
     curve it is reasonable to suppose that to the search programs it
     would be 4 magnitudes fainter than indicated by visual
     observations and would follow an inverse square law for
     brightness. It is fairly easy to calculate where the comet would
     be and how bright it might be, although the orbit is not highly
     accurate. The comet would probably have been visible from the
     LINEAR site from January to May 1998 when it was probably brighter
     than 19th magnitude. The search plots on the LINEAR web site
     suggest that the likely area through which the comet passed was
     searched. It was therefore presumably fainter than the detection
     limit at the time."
         -- Jonathan Shanklin



(1) HOW DID LIFE SURVIVE SNOWBALL EARTH?
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(2) THERSITES: A JUMPING TROJAN?
    K. Tsiganis et al., UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI

(3) THE STABILITY OF QUASI SATELLITES IN THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM
    P. Wiegert et al., YORK UNIVERSITY

(4) IDENTIFICATION OF MOLECULAR-CLOUD MATERIAL IN
    INTERPLANETARY DUST
    S. Messenger, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

(5) ON THE TRANSPORT OF BODIES WITHIN AND FROM THE ASTEROID BELT
    F. Franklin & M. Lecar, HARVARD SMITHSONIAN CTR ASTROPHYS

(6) OBSERAVTIONS OF COMET P/GEHRELS 3
    M.C. DeSanctis et al., CNR,IST ASTROFIS SPAZIALE

(7) U.S. DEFENDS MISSILE SHIELD, BUT SOME EUROPEAN ALLIES
    REMAIN SKEPTICAL
    SpaceDaily, 24 May 2000

(8) DETECTION OF 1997 K2
    Jonathan Shanklin <jdsh@mail.nerc-bas.ac.uk>

(9) DEVELOPING A PRACTICAL DETECTION NETWORK: A RESPONSE
    Jeffrey Larsen <jlarsen@pirlmail.lpl.Arizona.EDU>

(10) REFERENCE FOR 1983 IO BRIGHTENING
     Heidi B. Hammel <hbh@alum.mit.edu>

(11) U.S. WISH-LIST OF FUTURE TELESCOPES MIGHT BE GOOD NEWS
     FOR NEO SEARCH COMMUNITY AFTER ALL
     Oliver Morton <abq72@pop.dial.pipex.com>

(12) GLOBAL URANIUM SUPPLY
     Steve Zoraster <szoraster@zycor.lgc.com>

(13) 50 YEARS AGO - WORLDS IN COLLISION
     Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(14) AND FINALLY: RUINS ALTER IDEAS OF HOW CIVILIZATION SPREAD
     New York Times, 23 May 2000


===========
(1) HOW DID LIFE SURVIVE SNOWBALL EARTH?

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

University of Toronto

CONTACT:

Prof. Richard Peltier
Department of Physics
ph: (416) 978-2938; email: peltier@atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca

U of T Public Affairs
ph: (416) 978-6974; email: jf.wong@utoronto.ca

Equatorial water may have provided means of survival for early life

Sudden warming trends melted ice, providing refuge for multi-celled
animals while the rest of the Earth was frozen

By Janet Wong

May 24, 2000 -- The precursor of modern animals may have been able to
survive a Snowball Earth era that occurred some 600 million years ago
because of a belt of open water along the equator, suggests scientists
from the University of Toronto and Texas A&M University. This was a
time considered critical in the evolutionary development of
multi-celled animals and therefore the most important interval for
biological evolution in general.

In a paper to be published in the May 25 edition of Nature, U of T
physics professor Richard Peltier and Texas A&M oceanographers William
Hyde, Thomas Crowley and Steven Baum note that the late Proterozoic era
(600-800 million years ago) was the most important period of evolution
for multi-cellular creatures. However, this period was also a time in
Earth's history that has come to be referred to as the Snowball Earth.
At that time, the planet was thought to be completely ice-covered.
Geological and paleomagnetic evidence indicates that for alternating
periods, the Earth was completely covered by ice sheets over the
continents and sea ice over the oceans, followed by sudden warming
trends that melted the ice.

"If the suface of the planet was covered by ice, the question arises as
to how early life managed to survive under such environmental stress,"
says Peltier. To find an answer, the scientists employed several
different models of the climate systems and ran detailed computer
simulations of the climate thought to have been characteristic of that
time. To simulate the Snowball Earth, they reduced the amount of
sunlight reaching the Earth -- to account for the fact that the sun was
about six per cent less luminous than it is now -- and varied the
concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide within the range expected
for that time.

In most of the simulations, their analysis revealed the presence of a
belt of open water near the equator when the general circulation of the
ocean was taken into account. "It is this open water that may have
provided a refuge for multi-celled animals when the rest of the Earth
was covered by ice and snow," Peltier explains.

The findings of this research are critical to understanding how early
life evolved, he states. "This could help clarify how multi-celled
animals managed not only stay alive, but to thrive given the Earth's
harsh conditions. The extreme climates may even have exerted pressure
on these animals to evolve and adapt, possibly leading to the rapid
development of new forms of animals and their movement into new,
unpopulated habitats when the Earth exited the snowball state. It was
during the warm Cambrian era -- immediately following the late
Proterozoic -- in which life proliferated."

The late Proterozoic period was also a time when the supercontinents
Rodinia and Pannotia formed and subsequently rifted and disassembled.
Located over the south rotational pole in the position of present-day
Antarctica, these supercontinents were made up of the current land
masses of Africa, South America, Antarctica, Australia, Greenland,
Laurentia and parts of Asia. According to Peltier, the entry of the
Earth into the snowball state required not only the weak sun and
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels not significantly higher than
present-day, but also this high degree of polar continentality.

Funding for this research came from the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council of Canada and the National Science
Foundation in the U.S.

[Janet Wong is a news services officer with the Department of Public
Affairs.] 

===============
(2) THERSITES: A JUMPING TROJAN?

K. Tsiganis*), R. Dvorak, E. PilatLohinger: Thersites: a 'jumping'
Trojan? ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS, 2000, Vol.354, No.3, pp.1091-1100

*) UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI,DEPT PHYS,SECT ASTROPHYS ASTRON &

In this paper, we examine the dynamical evolution of the asteroid
(1868) Thersites(1), a member of the Trojan belt. Thersites is
librating around the Lagrangian point L-4, following, however, a
chaotic orbit. The equations of motion for Thersites as well as for a
distribution of neighboring initial conditions are integrated
numerically for 50 million years in the Outer Solar System model (OSS),
which consists of the Sun and the four giant planets. Our results
indicate that the probability that this asteroid will eventually escape
from the Trojan swarm is rather high. In fact, 20% from our initial
distribution escaped within the integration time. Many of the remaining
ones also show characteristic 'jumps' in the orbital elements,
especially the inclination. Secular resonances involving the nodes of
the outer planets are found to be responsible for this chaotic
behavior. The width of libration and eccentricity values that lead to
grossly unstable orbits are calculated and compared with previously
known results on the stability of the Trojans. Finally, a very
interesting behavior has been observed for one of the escaping
asteroids as he 'jumped' from L-4 to L-5 where he remained performing a
highly inclined libration for similar to 2 Myrs before escaping from
the Trojan swarm. Copyright 2000, Institute for Scientific Information
Inc.
===========
(3) THE STABILITY OF QUASI SATELLITES IN THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM

P. Wiegert*), K. Innanen, S. Mikkola: The stability of quasi satellites
in the outer solar system. ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL, 2000, Vol.119, No.4,
pp.1978-1984

*) YORK UNIVERSITY,DEPT PHYS & ASTRON,N YORK,ON M3J 1P3,CANADA

Quasi satellites are bodies in a particular configuration of a 1:1 mean
motion resonance, one in which they librate about the longitude of
their associated planet. We investigate numerically the stability of
such orbits around the giant planets of our solar system. We find that
test particles can remain on quasi-satellite orbits around Uranus and
Neptune for times up to 10(9) yr in some cases, though only at low
inclinations relative to their accompanying planet and over a
restricted range of heliocentric eccentricities. These stable areas are
well outside the traditional satellite region. Based on these results,
we conclude that a primordial population of such objects may still
exist in our solar system. Copyright 2000, Institute for Scientific
Information Inc.
==========
(4) IDENTIFICATION OF MOLECULAR-CLOUD MATERIAL IN
     INTERPLANETARY DUST

S. Messenger: Identification of molecular-cloud material in
interplanetary dust particles. NATURE, 2000, Vol.404, No.6781,
pp.968-971

*) WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY,DEPT PHYS,MCDONNELL CTR SPACE SCI,ST
   LOUIS,MO,63130

Interplanetary dust particles (IDPs) collected in the Earth's
stratosphere and meteorites are fragments of comets and asteroids.
These are 'primitive' meteorites in part because they have preserved
materials which predate the formation of the Solar System. The most
primitive (least altered) meteorites contain a few parts per million of
micrometre-sized dust which formed in the atmospheres of giant
stars(1). Some meteorites(2) have elevated D/H and N-15/N-14 ratios
that are attributed to surviving interstellar organic molecules which
have probably been strongly diluted and altered by parent-body
processes(2). Most IDPs are chemically, mineralogically, and texturally
primitive in comparison to meteorites(3,4). Here I show that H and N
isotopic anomalies among fragile 'cluster' IDPs are far larger, more
common, and less equilibrated than those previously observed in other
IDPs or meteorites. In some cases, the D/H ratios that we measure reach
the values of interstellar molecules, suggesting that molecular-cloud
material has survived intact. These observations indicate that cluster
IDPs are the most primitive class of Solar System materials currently
available for laboratory analysis. Copyright 2000, Institute for
Scientific Information Inc.
=========
(5) ON THE TRANSPORT OF BODIES WITHIN AND FROM THE ASTEROID BELT

F. Franklin*) & M. Lecar: On the transport of bodies within and from
the asteroid belt. METEORITICS & PLANETARY SCIENCE, 2000, Vol.35, No.2,
pp.331-340

*) HARVARD SMITHSONIAN CTR ASTROPHYS,60 GARDEN ST,CAMBRIDGE,MA,02138

This paper explores two processes, sweeping secular resonance (Ward,
1981) and gas drag (Lecar and Franklin, 1997), at work during the
dispersal of the solar nebula. We have two aims not previously
considered for the two mechanisms: (1) to explain the likely depletion,
by a factor of 1000 or so, of the rocky material in the inner belt (2.0
< a < 3.2 AU); (2) to introduce a means for providing-or contributing
to-the dispersion in semimajor axis of the various asteroidal taxonomic
classes. We suggest that large asteroids with birthplaces separated by
an astronomical unit or more can be finally deposited, owing to drag,
at the same semimajor axis. For example, we find that bodies with radii
up to 100 km can be transferred by gas drag from the outer belt (a >
3.3 AU) well into the inner one, and that an object already in the
inner belt as large or even larger than Vesta (r = 250 km)-thought to
be the parent body of many meteorites-can be inwardly displaced by as
much as an astronomical unit if the nebula dispersal times lie close to
10(5) years. For such times, a large fraction of the inner belt's
primordial mass can be ejected, with most of it passing into the inner
solar system. Copyright 2000, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

=============
(6) OBSERAVTIONS OF COMET P/GEHRELS 3

M.C. DeSanctis*), M. Lazzarin, M.A. Barucci, M.T. Capria, A. Coradini:
Comet P/Gehrels 3: spectroscopic observations and nucleus
models. ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS, 2000, Vol.354, No.3, pp.1086-1090

*) CNR,IST ASTROFIS SPAZIALE,VIA FOSSO CAVALIERE,ROME,ITALY

In the framework of an observational campaign for increasing the
knowledge on the relationship between cometary nuclei and asteroids, we
performed spectroscopic observations of P/Gehrels 3. The Jupiter family
comet P/Gehrels 3 moves on a particular orbit, with a very high
Tisserand invariant with respect to Jupiter, that makes the encounters
with the planet very effective. This implies that the comet spends part
of its life as a temporary satellite of Jupiter, on an orbit that shows
similarity with those of Trojans. This comet has been observed when it
was far from the Sun, with the aim to acquire data on the nucleus
status. In order to study from a theoretical point of view the possible
status and evolution of a body on this orbit we have developed
different nucleus models using a numerical code for the thermal
evolution of the nucleus. Copyright 2000, Institute for Scientific
Information Inc.

===============
(7) U.S. DEFENDS MISSILE SHIELD, BUT SOME EUROPEAN ALLIES
    REMAIN SKEPTICAL

From SpaceDaily, 24 May 2000
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/bmdo-00zd.html

US Defends Missile Shield, But Europe Skeptical

Florence (AFP) May 24, 2000 - The United States defended its plans for
an anti-missile defense shield Wednesday at the NATO foreign ministers'
meeting, but some European allies remained skeptical.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told her peers that the
National Missile Defense (NMD) system -- now under development -- was
essential for US security.

"The ballistic missile threat from states of concern is growing and
real," she said, alluding most notably to North Korea. "And the dangers
posed by all weapons of mass destruction must be dealt with firmly and
cooperatively."

She insisted that the NMD system, if it goes ahead, will not result in
a reduction to the United States' "enduring commitment" to the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization.

"We look forward to continuing our consultations with you (about the
anti-missile system) on a regular basis," she said.

But French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said: "Questions need to be
asked about the reality and scale of the threats (prompting such an
anti-missile shield), the technical credibility of the project and its
strategic consequences."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told reporters: "The US
anti-missile shield plan must be put within the bigger framework of a
new initiative on disarmament."

Russia strongly opposes the US plan, which will require changes to the
anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty that Washington signed with the
former Soviet Union in 1972.

At a press conference later Wednesday, Albright said the National
Missile Defense system was not directed at Moscow, "and they need to
absorb that lesson."

Among NATO allies, she added, "there seems to be an understanding of
where we are going and some gratitude, I guess, that we are having very
frequent briefings on this."

Copyright 2000 AFP

============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR*
============================

(8) DETECTION OF 1997 K2

From Jonathan Shanklin <jdsh@mail.nerc-bas.ac.uk>

Assuming that the comet followed a fairly normal light curve it is 
reasonable to suppose that to the search programs it would be 4
magnitudes fainter than indicated by visual observations and would
follow an inverse square law for brightness. It is fairly easy to
calculate where the comet would be and how bright it might be, although
the orbit is not highly accurate. The comet would probably have been
visible from the LINEAR site from January to May 1998 when it was
probably brighter than 19th magnitude. The search plots on the LINEAR
web site suggest that the likely area through which the comet passed
was searched. It was therefore presumably fainter than the detection
limit at the time.

Jon Shanklin
j.shanklin@bas.ac.uk
British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, England
http://www.nbs.ac.uk/public/icd/jds

===========
(9) DEVELOPING A PRACTICAL DETECTION NETWORK: A RESPONSE

From Jeffrey Larsen <jlarsen@pirlmail.lpl.Arizona.EDU>

Benny,

I understand Jon's point, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that
the process of developing a practical detection network is either 
iterative (at which we are progressing as fast as possible) or very
expensive. I think several groups are preparing to trade sky coverage
for fainter limiting magnitude. But a case study from three years ago
doesn't properly critique the surveys as they exist today...

Cheers,

Jeff

MODERATOR’S NOTE: A correction is in place: yesterday’s headline for
Jeff’s letter that should have read: "WOULD COMET 1997 K2 BE DISCOVERED
TODAY?" Sorry, Jeff.

===================
(10) REFERENCE FOR 1983 IO BRIGHTENING

From Heidi B. Hammel <hbh@alum.mit.edu>

Those who are interested in the anomalous brightening of Io in 1983 can
refer to the letter to Nature in which we published the details of the
observations:

Hammel, H. B., and R. M. Nelson,  "Bright flash on Io in 1983,"
Nature 366, 117 (1993).

The idea of an electrical arc is interesting.  We were (perhaps not
unexpectedly) somewhat obsessed with impacts at the time of publication
of the letter....

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel                        Phone:  203-438-3506
Senior Research Scientist                  Alt Ph: 203-894-2960
Space Science Institute - CT Office        Fax:    203-894-2961
72 Sarah Bishop Road                       Email:  hbh@alum.mit.edu
Ridgefield, CT 06877

=================
(11) U.S. WISH-LIST OF FUTURE TELESCOPES MIGHT BE GOOD NEWS
     FOR NEO SEARCH COMMUNITY AFTER ALL

From Oliver Morton <abq72@pop.dial.pipex.com>

At 10:38 am -0400 24/5/00, Benny J Peiser sent out into the world the
following headlines:

(3) WHILE NEO RESEARCHERS ARE COMPLACENT, U.S. ASTRONOMERS
    ARE LOBBYING FOR REAL MONEY

From Space.com, 19 May 2000
http://space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/new_observatories_000519.html

(4) ASTRONOMERS WANT BIGGER TELESCOPE - BUT NOT FOR SPACEGUARD

From the BBC News Online, 22 May 2000
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_758000/758883.stm

-----------

Benny

While I can understand that you would find it hard to let pass any
opportunity not to castigate the running dogs of JPL and their
chapmanite lackeys, it seems only fair to point out that fifth on the
NRC want-list comes the Large Aperture Synoptic Survey Telescope. As
Tony Reichhardt points out in Nature today, this instrument is widely
applicable to all sorts of surveys (it has a 3 degree field)
including earth crossers down to 300 metres. An analysis of various
real and potential survey instruments by Alain Maury
(http://wwwrc.obs-azur.fr/schmidt/general/NEOsurvey.html) seems to
rate LSST (then known as DMT) far higher than any other project.

While originally conceived as a way of looking for dark matter effects
(hence the original name dark matter telescope) LSST's interests have
been broadened recently (concievably as a way of broadening its
supporting constituency) to include, among a couple of other things,
NEO searches. Given this, if built it will presumably have to serve
these new constituents (the website points to support from Carolyn
Shoemaker). I suppose its possible that all this looks good on paper
but that those in the know know that, in practice, this is not great
news for NEO watchers. If so let them speak up. At first blush it looks
pretty good.

You could argue -- I might argue -- that LSST should be higher up the
list, above the new X ray telescopes and the expansion to the VLA. But
lists like this have to balance the interests of the different
spectrum-communities. The fact that this survey instrument, with
great potential use for NEO searches, is the second most highly rated
optical project seems a pretty high endorsement to me.

More at http://www.dmtelescope.org/

best, o

---------------

MODERATOR'S NOTE: I share Oliver’s hope that one of the telescopes
mentioned on the $3.7 billion U.S. wish-list might, sometime in the
future, be also used for NEO searches. But that's not the point. What I
(and others) have criticised is the assertion by some that additional
telescopes are actually unnecessary to achieve the current Spaceguard
goals. As was pointed out on CCNet (14 March 2000), the U.S. Congress
and NASA have adopted the goal of the Spaceguard Survey (i.e. finding
90% of NEAs larger than 1 km diameter in the next 10 years). It follows
that if "a modest extension" of the current search programmes can
actually meet this goal, there is no reason why tight-fisted funding
agencies (not just those in the U.S.) should contribute to *additional*
search programmes that would appear entirely superfluous in this light.
In the past, many observers have lamented that the number of 
professional NEO searchers around the world are "less than the staff at
a typical McDonalds". As far as the Spaceguard goals are concerned, it
would appear that this is all it takes to manage the impact hazard. Or
is it?

=============
(12) GLOBAL URANIUM SUPPLY

From Steve Zoraster <szoraster@zycor.lgc.com>

RE:  GLOBAL URANIUM SUPPLY
From Joel Gunn <jdgunn@mindspring.com>

> The summation of the program seemed to be that the world culture is
> headed for an energy crisis >regardless of any disturbances caused
> by global warming. I believe the same person who >reported the
> uranium supply said that resolution of the energy problem was being
> handled in a >"timid" manner. An effort of similar scale to that
> required to put people on the moon is required.

There indeed is a major ongoing debate, largely out of public view,
on the sustainability of traditional hydrocarbon-based energy sources
beyond the next decade. A leading proponent of the pessimistic view
is Dr. Colin Campbell, whose opinions may be accessed on the Internet
at www.oilcrisis.com <http://www.oilcrisis.com>.

More optimistic views are also available on the Internet. One such
view is "The Increasing Sustainability of Conventional Energy," by
Robert L. Bradley, available at
http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-341es.html

Why might this be of importance to readers of CCNet?  Well, nearly
all fertilizer is made from petroleum products, and if most of us
will die of starvation long before the next major impact event, then
money spent on Spaceguard may be irrelevant.  

By the way, I count myself as an optimist on this particular issue.

Steven Zoraster

================
(13) 50 YEARS AGO - WORLDS IN COLLISION

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Benny,

The June issue of Scientific American has the following in its historical
section from June 1950:

CONSPIRACY OF THE CREDULOUS--"Review: 'Worlds in Collision,' by Immanuel
Velikovsky. The Macmillan Company ($4.50). Scientists consider
Velikovsky's laborious theory that 3,500 years ago a great comet
temporarily stopped the earth in its rotation to be one of the most
astonishing hoaxes ever perpetrated on credulous man. Scientists of the
social variety might even find it a study of mass psychology as
interesting as the famous Orson Welles 'men from Mars' broadcast. The
author seems unperturbed by such opinions."

http://www.sciam.com/2000/0600issue/060050100.html

Also the item about civil defense from H-bombs is intriguing.

regards
Michael Paine

===============
(14) AND FINALLY: RUINS ALTER IDEAS OF HOW CIVILIZATION SPREAD

From The New York Times, 23 May 2000
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/052300sci-archaeo-syria.html

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

In the northeastern corner of Syria, near the Iraqi border and within
sight of southern Turkey's Taurus Mountains, archaeologists have begun
excavations of an ancient settlement that lay on a major trade route
from Nineveh to Aleppo. The ruins from more than 5,500 years ago are
telling them that previous ideas about the spread of early civilization
were more than likely wrong.

The first trenches cut into the large 500-acre site, Tell Hamoukar,
have yielded strong evidence that centrally administered complex
societies in northern regions of the Middle East apparently arose
simultaneously but independently of the more celebrated city-states of
southern Mesopotamia, in what is now southern Iraq. In the
conventional view, civilization was thought to begin solely in the
south and then move north through trade and colonization.

In an announcement of the new finds, Dr. McGuire Gibson, an
archaeologist at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago,
said, "We need to reconsider our ideas about the beginnings of
civilization, pushing the time further back."

Other archaeologists familiar with the research agreed in interviews
last week that the Tell Hamoukar excavations confirmed and should
elaborate on a consensus that has emerged among scholars in the last
decade about the role of northern settlements in Syria and Iraq and in
southeastern Turkey in the development of civilization. These
settlements exhibited many of the attributes of civilization --
monumental architecture, division of labor, social stratification --
apparently before they had any significant contact with people in the
lower valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

"It's a very important excavation," said Dr. Gil J. Stein, an
archaeologist at Northwestern University. "It fits in really nicely
with a picture that's been emerging, based on several other excavation
sites."

Even Dr. Guillermo Algaze, an archaeologist at the University of
California at San Diego, who had argued for a south-to-north
transplantation of early civilization, said that he now generally
agreed with the new interpretation. "I've been eating a lot of crow
lately," he said.

Excavations at Tell Hamoukar were started last summer by a joint
expedition of the Oriental Institute and the Syrian Directorate General
of Antiquities. Work will resume next month and will probably continue
for many years. The site promises an abundance of artifacts,
archaeologists said, not only because of its large size but also
because most of the material seems to be close to the surface.

Digging into the oldest layer of ruins uncovered so far, archaeologists
found traces of people living in villages at the site as early as 4000
B.C.

Within 300 years, the settlement had grown into a prosperous town of at
least 32 acres with ample evidence of a well-organized society of the
kind associated with the early stages of civilization.

FULL STORY at
http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/052300sci-archaeo-syria.html

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