Rare 500,000-year-old archaeological site uncovered in central Israel

The site gives new insight into the lives of our hunter-gatherer ancestors

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January 7, 2018 16:49
1 minute read.
Rare 500,000-year-old archaeological site uncovered in central Israel

An archaeological dig in Jaljulia, near route 6. (photo credit: SHMUEL MAGAL/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

A unique 500,000-year-old prehistoric site was exposed in the Arab town of Jaljulya in central Israel on Sunday, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University, who collaborated on the dig.

Hundreds of thousands of flint-stone tools from the lower Paleolithic era were uncovered in an area spanning nearly 2.5 acres, a rare find that is one of very few of its kind in the Levant region. According to Ron Barkai, head of the TAU Archaeology Department, these flint tools “supply us with important information regarding prehistoric man’s lifestyle... The tools that were found here can be attributed to Homo Erectus, the forefather of all human beings alive today.”

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 Hand axes found in archaeological site near Jaljulia (Yitzhak Marmelshtein/Israel Antiquities Authority))

In a period when most humans lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, Barkai explained that this finding suggests early humans had a geographical memory as well, which enabled them to return to a specific location such as this one on a seasonal basis.
Archaeological dig in Jaljulia (Shmuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Most of the tools found are hand axes, almond-shaped instruments that demanded much technical ingenuity and technological creativity of the people who made them. A surprisingly large number of these hand axes have been remarkably well-preserved, and they provide modern archeologists a unique window into the lives of our ancestors.

As Barkai summed it up, “Our collective human past lies buried under the ground, and we have a one-time opportunity to travel 500 thousand years back in time and get to know the prehistoric humans who lived here before us, between Jaljulya and Route 6.”


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