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13 October 2012
Prehistoric artefacts excavated in Israel

Prehistoric settlement remains, ranging from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (circa 10,000 years ago) to the Early Bronze Age (circa 5,000 years ago) were excavated at the site of Ein Zippori (Tzippori or Sepphoris) in the central Galilee region (Israel), during archaeological excavations conducted prior to the widening of a highway.
     According to excavation directors Dr Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov, "The excavation revealed remains of an extensive settlement from the end of the Neolithic period and beginning of the Chalcolithic period in the country belonging to the 'Wadi Rabah' culture... common from the end of the 6th millennium and beginning of the 5th millennium BCE".
     According to the excavators, Ein Zippori covered  around 18 hectares - one of the largest, if not the largest, settlement of this culture.
     A multitude of artefacts has been uncovered, including pottery, flint tools, basalt vessels and artistic objects. "Outstanding among the flint tools that were discovered are the sickle blades that were used to harvest grain, indicating the existence of an agricultural economy,"  the directors said. "We also found flint axes that were designed for working wood. The barter that transpired at the time is attested to by thin sharp blades made of obsidian, a volcanic stone that is not indigenous to the region and the closest source is in Turkey". 
     Among the special finds is a group of small stone bowls made with amazing delicacy - one containing more than 200 black, white and red stone beads. Other artefacts are clay figurines of animals (sheep, pig and cattle). The most important finds are stone seals or amulets bearing geometric motifs, and stone plaques and bone objects decorated with incising. One among the stone plaques bears a carving depicting two running ostriches. These objects connect Ein Zippori with contemporary cultures in Syria and Mesopotamia.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (9 October 2012)

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