(photo credit: Courtesy)
200 colored beads found in a bowl, and ostrich figures carved on a stone plate alongside animal figurines have been discovered on Sunday at the Ein Zippori national park, located in the Lower Galilee.
Ahead of the widening of Highway 79, extensive archaeological excavations have been conducted by the Antiquities Authority. During the excavations, a variety of impressive prehistoric artifacts have been uncovered.
Prehistoric settlement remains that range in date from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (c. 10,000 years ago) to the Early Bronze Age (c. 5,000 years ago) are at the Ein Zippori site, which extends south of Ein Zippori spring.
The site, extending over c. 200 dunams, might be the largest in the country where there are remains of the "Wadi Rabah" culture.
This culture is named after the site where it was first discovered (in the region of Rosh Ha-Ayin), and is common in Israel from the end of the sixth millennium and beginning of the fifth millennium BCE”.
According to Dr. Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The presence of remains from the Wadi Rabah culture in most of our excavation areas and in surveys that were performed elsewhere at the site shows that Ein Zippori is an enormous site. It turns out that this antiquities site is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the country where there are remains of this culture."
A multitude of artifacts has been uncovered in the excavation, including pottery, flint tools, basalt vessels and artistic objects of great importance.
Milevski and Getzov said, “Pottery bearing features characteristic of the Wadi Rabah culture such as painted and incised decorations and red and black painted vessels were exposed. 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."
It is also clear from the material of many objects that are not indigenous to the region that the items constituted part of the network of trade that stretched over thousands of kilometers in such an ancient period. For example, thin sharp blades made of obsidian, a volcanic stone is not indigenous to Israel, and the closest source is in Turkey.
Among the special finds that were uncovered in the excavation is a group of small stone bowls that were made with amazing delicacy.
One of them was discovered containing more than 200 black, white and red stone beads [pictured].
Other important artifacts found were clay figurines of animals (sheep, pig and cattle) that illustrate the importance of animal breeding in those cultures.
The most importance finds are stone seals or amulets bearing geometric motifs and stone plaques and bone objects decorated with incising. Among the stone plaques is one that bears a simple but very elegant carving depicting two running ostriches.
According to the researchers, these objects represent the world of religious beliefs and serve as a link that connects Ein Zippori with the cultures of these periods in Syria and Mesopotamia.
Milevski and Getzov stated: “The arrival of these objects at the Ein Zippori site shows that a social stratum had already developed at that time that included a group of social elite which used luxury items that were imported from far away countries”.
The most important findings are seals or talismans stone with geometric motifs and stone plates decorated with incised bone tools.