The discovery of the remains of a 9000-year-old city in Israel risks upsetting our knowledge of the Neolithic

“It's a site that will radically change what we know about the Neolithic era. "

C 'It was while working on the highway construction site near Jerusalem that archaeologists discovered unsuspected remains. While specialists estimated that Judea was uninhabited in the Neolithic period, a real metropolis awaited them a few tens of centimeters from the surface.

In Motza, a few kilometers from Jerusalem, Israel's largest Neolithic site has just been unveiled. Jacob Vardi and Hamondi Khalaily co-direct the excavations. Both speak of a historic discovery.

“It's a site that will radically change what we know about the Neolithic era. Until now, it was believed that Judea was empty and that sites of this size only existed on the other side of the Jordan or in the North Levant. Instead of an uninhabited area from that time, we found a complex site, where various means of economic subsistence existed, all only a few tens of centimeters from the surface ”

Archaeologists speak of the vestiges of a "true metropolis", of a "society at its peak". Thousands of prehistoric tools have been unearthed, signs of sophisticated habitation, buildings separated by alleys, public rooms and spaces used for ritual activities. But also sheds for storing legumes, in which the seeds are still perfectly preserved today. The site was then located on the shores of Nahal Sorek and the valley was fertile there. According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, these are "optimal conditions".

“These optimal conditions are one of the main reasons for long-term settlement at this site, from the Epipaleolithic period, around 20 years ago, to the present day. "

Evidence of animal domestication has also been found, as shown by the many animal bones, especially sheep.

The researchers specify that thanks to new technologies, research will be able to continue in the laboratories.

“Instead of an uninhabited area from that time, we found a complex site, where varied economic livelihoods existed, all consisting of several tens of centimeters below the surface. All finds were recorded using innovative three-dimensional technology, so that we can also continue researching the site after the excavation is complete. "

MC

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