12,000-year-old Israel village links old and new Stone Ages

New York, Feb 21 (IANS) Archaeologists have excavated a 12,000-year-old village in the Jordan Valley that sheds light on the historical shift from foraging to agriculture.

Archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem visited the site ‘NEG II’ which is located in Nahal (wadi) Ein-Gev at the middle of the perennial stream that flows west to the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

“A series of excavations on site revealed an abundance of findings, including human burial remains, flint tools, art manifestations, faunal assemblage, ground stone and bone tools,” said researchers.

The excavated area revealed an extensive habitation with deep cultural deposits (2.5 to 3 metres deep) and the site is estimated as covering roughly 1,200 metre square.

The village encapsulate cultural characteristics typical of both the old Stone Age — known as the Paleolithic period, and the new Stone Age — known as the Neolithic period.

“Although attributes of the lithic tool kit found at NEG II places the site chronologically in the Paleolithic period, other characteristics — such as its artistic tradition, size, thickness of archaeological deposits and investment in architecture — are more typical of early agricultural communities in the Neolithic period,” explained Dr Leore Grosman from Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Characterizing this important period of potential overlap in the Jordan Valley is crucial for the understanding of the socioeconomic processes that marked the shift from Paleolithic mobile societies of hunter-gatherers to Neolithic agricultural communities,” Grosman added.

The archaeologists described the village as one of the latest settlements in the Levant region of the Late Natufian — the last culture of the Paleolithic period.

The excavations at NEG II show that groups in the Jordan Valley became more sedentary and potentially larger in size.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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