Israel's Antiquities Authority (IAA) revealed on Sunday that local archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 5,000-year-old city, one of the biggest that has been found in the region from the Bronze Age so far, The Times of Israel reported.
The city, which scientists believe could completely change the understanding of that period and even rewrite history, was discovered during preparations for a highway project near Israel’s newest city Harish, 50 kilometers north of Tel Aviv. The authorities said that the early Bronze Age settlement could have been home to about 6,000 people, covering around 65 hectares and should really be viewed as “Early Bronze Age New York”.
“This is a huge city – a megalopolis in relation to the Early Bronze Age, where thousands of inhabitants, who made their living from agriculture, lived and traded with different regions and even with different cultures and kingdoms in the area… This is the Early Bronze Age New York of our region; a cosmopolitan and planned city,” excavation directors Itai Elad, Dr. Yitzhak Paz and Dr. Dina Shalem said in a joint IAA statement.
"The remains of residential buildings, diverse facilities and the public buildings are an indication of the organised society and the social hierarchy that existed at the time," archeologists added.
An amazing find: Israeli archeologists have uncovered a 5000 year old huge city from the Early Bronze Age, the largest from that era in the entire Middle East. Underneath it, they also found a 7000 year old settlement!— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) October 6, 2019
The Land of Israel - it's where it all started. pic.twitter.com/A8bETYbHDd
The researchers revealed that around four million fragments such as pottery pieces, flint tools and stone vases were found at the site, as well as burnt animal bones serving as an evidence of ritual sacrifices committed by city’s inhabitants in what archeologists believe was an “unusual” ritual temple.
“These findings allow us to look beyond the material into the spiritual life of the large community that lived at the site,” the archaeologists said, noting that one of the most interesting artifacts found was a cylindrical stamp impression of a man holding his hands up in the air.
However, one more shocking discovery was made just underneath the city’s houses, which appeared to be another settlement, in this case from the Chalcolithic period dating 7,000 years back.
“The excavation at this site revealed two main settlements,” explained Dr. Dina Shalem in an IAA video. “The earliest one is about 7,000 years old. It’s a very large agricultural settlement. Two thousand years later, another settlement became one of the first cities known in this area of the world.”
Scientists now believe that the discovery of “Bronze Age New York” may dramatically change the historical understanding of area’s development, including the process through which Canaan’s local population moved from an agrarian to urban way of life and established governance in the city.
“The study of this site will change forever what we know about the emergence [and] rise of urbanisation in the land of Israel and in the whole region,” Dr. Yitzhak Paz said. “And it means that what we know now will change what is written today in the traditional books when people read about the archaeology of Israel.”