Discovering Early Farming Society in Israel

Bible and archaeology news

Israeli excavations have uncovered Neolithic and Chalcolithic remains. Photograph: Dr. Ya’akov Vardi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Israel Antiquties Authority announced the discovery of an unprecedented Neolithic site in Israel on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. The earliest evidence, from a seventh millennium B.C.E. Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture, includes permanent architectural installations, plaster floors and obsidian tools. Obsidian is not local to the region, revealing that the Neolithic culture had access to long-distance trade networks. In addition, excavators uncovered large quantities of bean seeds, serving as one of the oldest known examples of legume domestication in the ancient Near East. In the Israel Antiquities Authority Press release, excavation directors Yitzhak Paz and Dr. Yaʽakov Vardi said that “for the first time in the country, entire buildings and extensive habitation levels were exposed from these early periods, in which the rich material culture of the local residents was discovered.”

The excavations, carried out before the construction of a new railroad line, also uncovered fifth millennium B.C.E. Early Chalcolithic architectural remains from the Wadi Rabah culture. The rectilinear buildings reveal high-quality pottery, tools and artistic artifacts, including representations of human genitalia thought to be fertility symbols.

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