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6 December 2013
10,000-year-old house and temple uncovered near Jerusalem

A remarkable archaeological find in the Judean lowlands southwest of Jerusalem includes a six-millennia-old cultic temple and a 10,000-year-old house. The ancient sites were located in routine archaeological digs conducted ahead of a planned expansion of Route 38, the main access road to Beit Shemesh. The oldest artifacts discovered are ascribed to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (10,000 BP).
     According to the site's excavation directors, "This is the first time that such an ancient structure has been discovered in the Judean foothills. The building is almost entire, and there are a number of construction phases that indicate its importance. Whoever built the house did something that was totally innovative as up to this period man migrated from place to place in search of food."
     A collection of nine flint and limestone axes placed side by side was discovered near the building. "It is apparent that the axes, some of which were used as tools and some as cultic objects, were highly valued by their owners. Based on how the cluster was arranged at the time of its discovery, it seems that it was abandoned by its owner for some unknown reason".
     A significant find from the end of the Chalcolithic period (second half of the 5th millennium BCE) was discovered in the adjacent area in Eshat'ol. Six thousand year old buildings were exposed as well as a standing stone or mazzevā. This standing stone is 1.30 meters high and weighs several hundred kilos. It was smoothed and worked on all six of its sides, according to the excavation directors, with one of its sides facing east, which could allude to the presence of a cultic temple at the site.
     "We can clearly see that in the Early Bronze Age, 5,000 years ago, the rural society made the transition to an urban society. This is a settlement that gradually became planned and included alleys and buildings that were extremely impressive from the standpoint of their size and the manner of their construction," said Dr. Amir Golani, one of the excavation directors.

Edited from The Jerusalem Post, The Tims of Israel (25 November 2013)

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