Israeli archaeologists uncovered a huge, 9000-year-old settlement from the New Stone Age close to Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.
Excavation Directors, Hamoudi Khalaily and Jacob Vardi, in a statement, said this was the first time such a large-scale settlement from the Neolithic Period, 9,000 years ago, was discovered in Israel.
“At least 2,000 – 3,000 residents lived here, an order of magnitude that parallels a present-day city’’
The excavations exposed large buildings, including rooms that were used for living, as well as public facilities and places of ritual.
The antiquities authority said between the buildings, alleys were exposed, bearing evidence of the settlement’s advanced level of planning.
In some buildings, plaster was sometimes used to make floors and for sealing various facilities, it added.
Burial offerings found in graves indicated that the inhabitants of the settlement were in contact with people from distant lands, the researchers said.
Among the items found in tombs were unique objects made of an unknown type of stone, as well as items made of obsidian from Anatolia, and seashells.
Some of the shells were brought from the Mediterranean Sea and some from the Red Sea, the researchers said.
The excavations are being conducted as part of a major construction project, including a new entrance road to Jerusalem from the west and two double tunnels.
Among other items, thousands of arrowheads, pieces of jewellery and figurines were unearthed during the excavations.