NORTH The oldest piece of metal ever found in the Middle East was discovered in excavations in Tel Tzaf, the University of Haifa announced Sunday, citing a study published by researchers of the university’s Zinman institute of Archeology, in collaboration with researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Berlin’s German Archeological Institute.According to the study, published in the PLoS ONE scientific journal, the metal dates back to the fifth or sixth century BCE, hundreds of years earlier than the date previously believed to have been the time when people began to use metals.Tel Tzaf, an archeological site dated to the Middle Chalcolithic period (5200-4700 BCE), is located in the Jordan Valley on the banks of the river, next to the border with Jordan. It was surveyed in the past, starting from the 1950s, and was excavated from the late ’70s, constituting what the University of Haifa describes as the most important archeological site in the region from that period. The site has provided valuable information for researchers, beginning with the early digs through the recently renewed project led by the university’s Dr. Daniel Rosenberg, in collaboration with the German Archeological Institute’s Dr. Florian Klimscha.The metal found was a copper awl, discovered in one of the silo-graves at Tel Tzaf. According to PLoS ONE, “The available dating from Tel Tzaf and the item context suggest that this awl is the earliest-known copper artifact in the southern Levant, suggesting that cast metal technology was introduced to the southern Levant centuries before the onset of the fullblown Ghassulian Chalcolithic.” The awl was found with the skeleton of an approximately 40-year-old female, and was apparently a burial offering.The study describes the metal object as an elongated pin made of cast copper, with a rounded cross-section. It is 41 mm.long, with a 5-mm. maximum diameter; the diameter of the awl near its tip is 1 mm. The color of the outside is green due to oxidization and corrosion, while the core is reddish. The narrower tip bears signs of rotational movement and remains of a wooden handle were noted on the base, on the opposite end. Around the skeleton’s waist was a belt made from ostrich egg beads. Rosenberg said the grave represents one of the richest-known burials in the region from that time, which may point to a complex social hierarchy. He noted that significant progress remains to be done on the project, which began last year, and that many parts of the overall picture are not yet known; many more complex questions will undoubtedly arise as the scientists continue with their work.Motorcycle blast kills 1, injures another at Yagur Junction A motorcycle exploded on Sunday night, killing one person and injuring another near Yagur Junction.Police initially suspected criminal motives in the incident, and were investigating the matter.CENTER TA saw highest number of road casualties at junctions in 2013 Tel Aviv was the city with the highest number of people injured in road accidents at junctions in 2013, according to a report released on Sunday by the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel.In 2013, 1,044 people were injured in traffic accidents at Tel Aviv junctions, and seven people died. This was significantly higher than in Jerusalem, where 625 people were injured and four people killed in the same context.Across the country, 50 people died last year in traffic accidents at city intersections, marking an increase of 30 percent since the previous year, according to data from Or Yarok, based on information from the Central Bureau of Statistics.Kibbutz Galuyot and Hel Hasharon in Tel Aviv; Pinhas Lavon, Ben-Gurion and Shagar in Netanya; and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Hahistadrut in Haifa were among those pinpointed as dangerous city intersections. According to the report, in 2013, 7,128 people were injured in accidents at urban intersections, and 50 were killed. The data also indicated that in the first half of 2014, over 3,000 people were injured at intersection accidents, with 10 fatalities. Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Aboav asserted that the state must regulate the most dangerous junctions across the country, with the use of traffic circles and lights, speed bumps and pedestrian bridges.Rock opera returns to stage The King of the Jews rock opera by the late Dvora Omer was set to be shown at Holon’s Mediatheque Theater this week. The production premiered in 1992 at Habimah Theater, and has been staged 100 times.Set to attend the event were Education Minister Shai Piron; Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who wrote the songs for the original play; pop star Rami Kleinstein, who composed the music; as well as relatives of Omer, and Holon Mayor Moti Sasson.The Holon theater will stage a new and updated version of the play, directed by Aya Kaplan and featuring actors Elad Atrakchi, Or Ilan, Avinoam Ben-Nahum, Noa Godel, Maya Medger, Yakir Portal, Dan Kizler and Shaham Shiner.SOUTH Tax Authority to compensate southern businesses harmed by Gaza operation The Tax Authority announced that owners of businesses in the South affected by Operation Protective Edge who chose to make claims for compensation may file two separate claims – one each for July and August. According to the Local website, the Tax Authority explained that filing separate claims for the two months would provide significant relief for employers struggling to pay their employees’ salaries for the month of July without immediate assistance.Eilat Border Police catch suspect allegedly smuggling drugs in underwear Border Police in Eilat found a bag containing a suspicious substance, a dangerous crystal-type drug, when they searched three suspects entering the city. Ma’ariv Hashavua reported Sunday that the three suspects were imprisoned at the end of the investigation, and the detention of one was extended by several days.A car carrying three young men approaching the inspection point at the city entrance had aroused the suspicion of area Border Police, who asked the suspects to show their ID cards. “Why are you checking us? We are from Kiryat Gat,” they responded.The police didn’t find anything suspicious in the vehicle but conducted a strip search of the driver; they saw he was hiding something in his underwear and ordered him to remove it. The suspect pulled out a bag containing a suspected drug substance and told police it was crystal. Under investigation, the suspect admitted the drugs were his, and his friends were released.