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Rare Prehistoric Site about 500,000 Years Old Uncovered in Israel

Prehistoric Archaeology / Maayan Shemer

A 500,000 million years old site, extending over about 10 dunams, was uncovered in Jaljulia, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday.

The rare and important prehistoric site has been uncovered just next to Highway 6, one of Israel’s busiest highways.

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Among the finds uncovered in the excavation are hundreds of flint hand axes used by prehistoric humans, and a rich lithic industry, including hundreds of flint hand axes, typical tools of the ancient Acheulian culture.

“The extraordinary quantity of flint tools uncovered in the excavation provides significant information about the lifeways of prehistoric humans during the Lower Paleolithic period. It seems that half a million years ago, the conditions here in Jaljulia were such, that this became a favored locality, subject to repeated human activity,” said Maayan Shemer, the excavation director, and Prof. Ran Barkai, head of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University.

“We associate the industry found on site to the Homo Erectus – a direct ancestor of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens, the human species living today.

“This environment is considered to have been rich with vegetation and herding animals, a ‘green spot’ in the landscape. In this place, three basic needs of the ancient hunter gatherers were met: clear water, a variety of food sources (plants and animals) and flint nodules, of which tools were made.

“The fact that the site was occupied repeatedly indicates that prehistoric humans possessed a geographic memory of the place, and could have returned here as a part of a seasonal cycle,” They say.

Handaxes, found at the site in relatively large quantities, are very impressive tools, their shape somewhat reminding a teardrop.

The production of these tools require careful and meticulous work, and a deep familiarity of the raw material in use.

In Jaljulia handaxes were made of a variety of flint types, and the archeologies also observe a differentiation in the production quality.

Almost as if some of the handaxes were made by a master craftsmen and others- by someone less qualified.

Hand axes were used as dominant tools by prehistoric humans for more than a million years. Yet, its particular use is still debated.

Some scholars suggest that these were the tools used to dismember large animals such as elephants. Others say that handaxes were the “Swiss Army knife” of the Stone Age and had additional uses such as hunting, hide working and the working plant and vegetal material.

Large quantities of additional flint artifacts attest to technological innovation, development and creativity.



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