Gaining better insight into the Biblical period through prehistoric Israel
Excavations at Raqefet Cave on Mt. Carmel have revealed a number of fascinating insights into the Natufian culture in prehistoric Israel. Archaeological investigations show, for example, that the Natufians—hunter-gatherers living 15,000–11,600 years ago in the Levant—held feasts at the burial sites of the deceased and decorated the graves with flowers. The practice of laying flowers at graves to commemorate the dead still exists today, providing us with a powerful emotional link to the past.
As Daniel Nadel explains in his Archaeological Views column “Why People Interested in Biblical Archaeology Should Also Be Interested in the Prehistory of the Land of Israel” in the September/October 2014 issue of BAR, studying prehistoric Israel can be of great interest to both scholars and laypeople alike. In fact, understanding the prehistory of Israel can give us a better perspective on Israel in the Biblical period.
Prehistoric Israel spans the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. Ubeidiya in the Jordan Valley, dating about 1.5 million years before present, is the oldest site thus far uncovered in the region and was home to some of the first hominids who migrated out of Africa. Excavations at Paleolithic sites all over prehistoric Israel have yielded, among other things, stone tools, butchered animals bones and evidence for the control of fire.
Innovations that developed over millennia in prehistoric Israel—agriculture, the domestication of animals and metallurgy, to name a few—thus set the stage for the emergence of complex cities and mighty kingdoms in the Biblical period.
Learn more about the archaeology of prehistoric Israel by reading the full column “Why People Interested in Biblical Archaeology Should Also Be Interested in the Prehistory of the Land of Israel” by Daniel Nadel in the September/October 2014 issue of BAR.
Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on September 16, 2014.
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update.