Vast 9,000-year-old ‘metropolis’ discovered buried near Jerusalem

Vast 9,000-year-old ‘metropolis’ discovered buried near Jerusalem

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Vast 9,000-year-old ‘metropolis’ discovered buried near Jerusalem

The history of humans in the region could be rewritten by an immense prehistoric settlement dating back 9,000 years, discovered near Jerusalem by Israeli archaeologists during preparations for a new highway.

The excavation exposed large buildings, alleyways and burial places.

The settlement, near modern Motza, at home to about 3000 people in the Stone Age, disapproves of the long-standing theory of people not currently living in Judea that the area is known as the “bigbang,” as well as a “game changer” for our understanding of the country’s human settlement.

The site revealed huge buildings, flint tools, including thousands and thousands of arrowheads, axes for chopping down forests, sickle blade and knives- proving the city was a bustling hub of complex society

Trays with findings from the archaeological excavation site of a settlement from the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age), discovered during archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority near Motza Junction, about 5km west of Jerusalem
Part of an excavation site where a huge prehistoric settlement was discovered by Israeli archaeologists, is seen in the town of Motza near Jerusalem. The archaeological team discovered large buildings, including rooms that were used for living, as well as public facilities and places of ritual

It was thought that the area was previously uninhabited and only the other bank of the Jordan river had such vast cities but the site, which covers dozens of acres, has forced them to reconsider all they know about Israeli history.

According to the Antiquities Authority, this is the first time that such a large-scale settlement from the Neolithic Period is discovered in Israel, and one of the largest of its kind in the region

Before the discovery, it was widely believed the entire area had been uninhabited in that period, during which people were shifting away from hunting for survival to a more sedentary lifestyle that included farming.

Jacob Vardi, co-director of the excavations at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, said: ‘It’s a game changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era.’

A view of some of the objects found at the site. The team also found storage sheds that contained large quantities of legumes, particularly lentils, whose seeds were remarkably preserved throughout the millennia

‘So far, it was believed that the Judea area 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, and all this only several dozens of centimetres below the surface.’

Ancient burial sites in the city showed advanced levels of planning.
A host of objects were found at the site and between them shed new light on the history of ancient Israel and human habitation of the area

The archaeological team discovered large buildings, including rooms that were used for living, as well as public facilities and places of ritual.

Between the buildings, alleys were exposed, bearing evidence of the settlement’s advanced level of planning.

The team also found storage sheds that contained large quantities of legumes, particularly lentils, whose seeds were remarkably preserved throughout the millennia.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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