Stone Age site in Israel yields earliest evidence of legume cultivation
|The excavation area [Credit: Dr. Ya'akov Vardi/Israel Antiquities Authority]|
The ancient settlement remains ascribed to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period were discovered on top of the bedrock in which the ancient inhabitants hew different installations, and even built plaster floors in several spots.
“We found a large number of flint and obsidian arrowheads, polished miniature stone axes, blades and other flint and stone tools. The large amount of tools made of obsidian, a material that is not indigenous to Israel, is indicative of the trade relations that already existed with Turkey, Georgia and other regions during this period”.
According to the archaeologists, “Another unique find that can be attributed to this period is the thousands of charred broad bean seeds that were discovered together inside a pit. The Neolithic and Chalcolithic societies were agrarian societies that resided in villages, and it was during these periods that the agricultural revolution took place, when plants and animals were domesticated. This is one of the earliest examples of the proper cultivation of legumes in the Middle East”.
|The phallic figurine [Credit: Dr. Ya'akov Vardi/Israel Antiquities Authority]|
These include a large number of pottery vessels indicative of a highly developed pottery industry, flint tools, stone objects, as well as a number of unique artistic artifacts, among them a phallic figurine and a palette on which female genitals are schematically etched – these symbols also represented the fertility of the earth.
A preliminary analysis of the animal bones discovered at the site shows that pigs were a principal staple in the diet of the inhabitants.
According to Shay Baras, director-general of National Roads Company of Israel, “We welcome the opportunity to be partners in a discovery of international scientific value. The salvage excavations were carried out within the framework of diverting Route 85, as part of the construction of the Karmiel railroad track. The request by the Israel Antiquities Authority to continue its work at the site, as a result of the important discovery, will cause a two month postponement in the schedule for building the railway line. The project managers accepted the challenge and have therefore adapted the subsequent steps in the project’s implementation in order to reduce the impact of the delays on the schedule”.
Source: Israel Antiquities Authority [March 13, 2013]