7,500-year-old water well reused as garbage pit
Maritime archaeologists working off the coast of Haifa, Israel, have partially excavated a 7,500-year-old water well. The water well supplied freshwater to a Neolithic period settlement at the site of Kfar Samir, which is submerged 16 feet under the Mediterranean Sea as a result of a prehistoric sea-level rise. The project is led by Dr. Ehud Galili of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the University of Haifa in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Benjamin of Flinders University and Dr. Deborah Cvikel of the University of Haifa.
The contents of water wells can offer a wealth of archaeological information.
“Once [the water wells] stopped serving their intended purpose, people used them as big rubbish bins,” Dr. Benjamin explained in a Flinders University press release. “This is superb for archaeologists because it means we can look through the refuse of prehistoric societies—including animal bones, plant fibers and tools—to see how these ancient civilizations lived, how they hunted and what they ate.”
“At the Kfar Samir site, the water well was probably abandoned when sea levels started to rise and the freshwater became salty, so people threw food scraps and animal bones down the well instead,” said Dr. Benjamin. “As [this was] a pre-metal society, we expect to find stone tools—perhaps weapons made of flint—and needles made of bone.”
In addition to exposing the water well, the archaeologists took core samples for pollen analysis and used photogrammetric technology in order to create a 3D model of the site. Continued work at Kfar Samir will provide more insight into the nature of the Neolithic village.
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