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Atlit Yam. (Hanay / CC by SA 3.0)

Why the ‘Stonehenge of Atlit Yam’ was Held in Such High Regard (Video)

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Located a quarter mile off the Israeli coast, the 'Stonehenge of Atlit Yam' has captivated archaeologists with its remarkably preserved 9,000-year-old settlement. This ancient site, nestled on the Mediterranean shore, offers invaluable insights into the transition from hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture, a crucial shift in human history. The stone circle found at Atlit Yam, originally constructed for a singular purpose, is now believed to have been a tribute to the divine, a plea for agricultural prosperity. Remarkably, the people residing here enjoyed longer lives and better health than their contemporaries in neighboring farming communities. The key to their well-being? A freshwater spring at the circle's heart.

Chisel marks etched deeply into the stones reveal the significance attributed to this circle and its surrounding spring. It is thought that the community came to view both as essential to their survival. Carved into the enormous slabs are cup marks, likely intended for offerings and water, identical to those found in later stone circles across Europe and Britain. As the community expanded, a single freshwater source proved insufficient. This led to a pioneering solution, the construction of deep vertical wells that tapped into a vast underground reservoir. In time, this innovation gave rise to 30 stone-built wells, the earliest of their kind in the world, securing Atlit Yam's enduring access to a permanent water supply.

Top image: Atlit Yam. (Hanay / CC by SA 3.0)

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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