Israeli archaeologists announced earlier this week their discovery of a 9,000-year-old settlement near Jerusalem, the largest found anywhere in the Levant to date. Citing Jacob Vardi, one of the excavation’s co-directors, Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:
“It’s a game changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era,” said Vardi. [Until now], “it was believed that the area of Judea was empty, and that sites of that size existed only on the other bank of the Jordan river, or in the northern Levant. Instead of an uninhabited area from that period, we have found a complex site, where varied economic means of subsistence existed,” [said] Vardi and co-director Hamoudi Khalaily.
Roughly half a kilometer from one end to the other, the site would have housed an estimated population of some 3,000 residents. . . . [T]he people who lived in this town had trade and cultural connections with widespread populations, including Anatolia, which is the origin of the obsidian artifacts discovered at the site. Other excavated material indicates intensive hunting, animal husbandry, and agriculture.
In addition to prehistoric tools such as thousands of arrowheads, axes, sickle blades, and knives, storage sheds containing large stores of legumes, especially lentils, were uncovered. . . . [A] number of small statues were [also] unearthed, including clay figurines of an ox and of a stone face.