Half-a-million-year-old Feeding Ground for Homo Erectus Found Near Tel Aviv
Archaeologists from Israel have announced the discovery of hundreds of hand-axes, most likely used by prehistoric humans from five hundred thousand years ago at Jaljulia, north-east of Tel Aviv.
Prehistoric “Paradise" for Hunter-Gatherers Unearthed
For their good luck, archaeologists noted, that the prehistoric hunter-gatherers that occupied the site, left behind evidence of hundreds of knapped flint hand-axes, as The Guardian reports. The hundreds of flint hand-axes were unearthed during a dig just next to Route 6, one of Israel's busiest highways, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated.
The team of researchers revealed more details about the discovery, such as that the spot the axes were found was at a five-meter depth at Jaljulia, near the town of Kfar Saba. The finds indicate that a long-lost species of early human (homo erectus) seemed to be returning to the site frequently, most likely motivated by a water source, leaving behind evidence of their primordial stone tools. Interestingly, experts describe the site at Jaljulia as a prehistoric “paradise" for hunter-gatherers, with a stream, vegetation and an abundance of animals.
“Coming to work in Jaljulia, nobody expected to find evidence of such an ancient site, let alone one so extensive and with such impressive finds,” a surprised with the finds Maayan Shemer of the Israel Antiquities Authority stated as The Guardian reports.
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The Jaljulia excavation site next to Route 6 and a stream. (IAA YouTube Screenshot)
The Site’s Rich Archaeological Treasures of Acheulean Culture
Without a doubt, the most impressive find so far in the area, is evidence of a highly-developed lithic industry that produced a great amount of stone tools, including hundreds of flint hand-axes characteristic of the ancient Acheulean culture that existed in the Lower Paleolithic era from about 1.5 million to 200,000 years ago. “There are only two sites [in Israel] whose estimated age is close to Jaljulia in the Sharon, or central Israel: one in Kibbutz Eyal, approximately 5km to the north, and the other, dated to a slightly later cultural phase, at Qesem Cave located approximately 5km to the south,” Shemer said via The Guardian.
According to the Museum of Anthropology, the Acheulean tradition constituted a veritable revolution in stone-age technology. Acheulean stone tools - named after the site of St. Acheul on the Somme River in France where artifacts from this tradition were first discovered in 1847 - have been found over an immense area of the Old World. Reports of hand-axe discoveries span an area extending from southern Africa to northern Europe and from Western Europe to the Indian sub-continent.
A selection of the various styles of hand axes that have been found. (Tel Aviv University)
Acheulean stone tools are the products of Homo erectus, a close ancestor to modern humans. Not only are the Acheulean tools found over the largest area, but it is also the longest-running industry, lasting for over a million years. The earliest known Acheulean artifacts from Africa have been dated to 1.6 million years ago. The oldest Acheulean sites in India are only slightly younger than those in Africa. In Europe, the earliest Acheulean tools appear just after 800,000 years ago, as H. erectus moved north out of Africa.
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Prehistoric Humans may have Possessed a Geographic Memory
Back to Israel and the most recent discovery, archaeologists have concluded that prehistoric humans probably possessed a geographic memory (just like modern humans), due to the fact that they kept occupying the site frequently, which also indicates that they kept returning there as part of a seasonal cycle.
“The findings are amazing, both in their preservation state and in their implications about our understanding of this ancient material culture. There is no doubt that researching these finds in-depth will contribute greatly to the understanding of the lifestyle and human behaviour during the period” Shemer stated as BBC News reported.
Ultimately Ran Barkai, head of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, added that the site had been "amazingly preserved" and agreed with Shemer that the new finds will reveal a lot of information about their prehistoric ancestors, “This extraordinary site will enable us to trace the behavior of our direct prehistoric ancestors, and reconstruct their lifestyle and behavior on the very long journey of human existence, “he stated according to The Guardian.
The site’s vast area was unearthed recently in a common dig conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the archaeological department in Tel Aviv University.
Top image: Prehistoric hand axe found in Israel. (Source: Samuel Magal/Israel Antiquities Authority)