Prehistoric site in Israel offers menu for a Paleolithic diet
Archaeologists excavating at the Nesher quarry in Israel have discovered a prehistoric site containing an extraordinarily large number of animal bones. The site, located near the city of Ramla, 14 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, is believed to have been settled 170,000 years ago.
Salvage excavations led by Dr. Yossi Zaidner of the University of Haifa’s Zinman Institute of Archaeology uncovered a unique site that combined cave-living with open-air settlement. In a pit about 100 feet deep and 300 feet wide, great quantities of auroch bones (an extinct type of wild cattle) were discovered along with the bones of rhinoceros, horses, fallow deer, gazelles and land turtles.
The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and articles on ancient practices—from dining to makeup—across the Mediterranean world.
“The discovery was a complete surprise to us, and we’re still not certain what the site was used for—perhaps for hunting, perhaps as a meeting place. Another avenue of investigation is that the pit might have been used as a giant trap,” Zaidner told Haaretz.
This rare prehistoric site dates to the Middle Paleolithic period (from 250,000 years to about 40,000 years ago). Associated with the hunter-gatherer Mousterian culture, the site is among the oldest human settlements discovered in the Middle East.
Zaidner and his colleagues published their findings in the Journal of Human Evolution.
Why Study Prehistoric Israel?
The Prehistoric Diet and the Rise of Complex Societies
Manot Cave Skull Links Modern Humans to Neanderthals
12,000-Year-Old Shaman Funeral Reflects Natufian-Period Changes
“Lay Some Flowers on My Grave”: Oldest grave flowers discovered in Israel
No Matches? No Problem. Ancient Fire-Making in Israel
The Ancient Bean Diet: Fava Beans Favored in Prehistoric Israel
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update.