Israeli archaeologists discover prehistoric ‘paradise’ near Tel Aviv
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Israeli archaeologists discover prehistoric ‘paradise’ near Tel Aviv

Antiquities experts find hundreds of tools thought to be from early human ancestors nearly half-a-million years ago

  • Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Maayan Shemer, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, showing a half-million year-old hand axe. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Maayan Shemer, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, showing a half-million year-old hand axe. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation, which may re-write the history of human migration. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation, which may re-write the history of human migration. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • .The excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    .The excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Hundreds of hand axes were uncovered in the excavation. Photographer : Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • Excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    Excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • .The excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    .The excavation at Jaljulia. Photographs: Samuel Magal, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
  • The excavation at Jaljulia, aerial view. Photograph: Yitzhak Marmelstein, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
    The excavation at Jaljulia, aerial view. Photograph: Yitzhak Marmelstein, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Israeli archaeologists working in an Israeli Arab town have said they’ve uncovered evidence of a “paradise” location for early human ancestors half a million years ago.

Antiquities experts could barely contain their joy with the discovery of hundreds of prehistoric tools in an area of ancient riverbed lying only two metres below ground adjoining Route 6, a major motorway.

Hundreds of flint heads used as tools of the Acheulian culture have been found at Jaljulia near Kfar Saba, with Prof. Ran Barkai, head of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, describing it as an “extraordinary quantity”.

The excavation, funded by the Israel Land Authority, has shone a new light on the habits of Homo Erectus, the precursor to Homo Sapiens, in an area that would once have been filled with animals, green vegetation and streams.

The river would have brought flint nodules, needed for the teardrop-shaped axe-heads, described as the Swiss Army knife of the day. They were used to bring down and butcher animals, which were drawn to the area for its greenery and water. “So it was like a paradise for the people here,” said Barkai.

“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.”

Digging has been conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, with experts blown away by the extraordinary level of preservation, and the way different layers of sediment show progressing levels of tool manipulation and sophistication.

“We see here a wide technological variety,” said IAA excavation director Maayan Shemer. “There is no doubt that researching these finds in-depth will contribute greatly to the understanding of the lifestyle and human behavior during the period in which Homo Erectus inhabited our area.”

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