A prehistoric village dated to around 12,000 years ago was uncovered near the Sea of Galilee in Israel on Wednesday, February 17 by archeologists from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The site, named NEG II by the researchers, is located at the Ein-Gev River in the middle of the perennial stream that flows west of the Sea of Galilee.
A series of excavations at the site revealed an abundance of findings, including human remains, flint tools, artworks, animal fossils, ground stone tools, and bone tools. The findings show that many people lived in the area, which is estimated to have covered roughly 1200 square meters.
The village differs markedly from others of its period in Israel. The findings included cultural characteristics typical of both the Old Stone Age known as the Paleolithic period and the New Stone Age known as the Neolithic period.
“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,” said excavation leader Dr. Leore Grosman of the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University.
The Paleolithic period is the earliest and the longest period of prehistoric human history. The end of this period is marked by the transition to settled villages and the domestication of plants and animals as part of the agricultural lifestyle in the Neolithic period.
The archeologists, in their research published in the PLOS ONE journal, described the village as one of the latest settlements in the Levant region of the Late Natufian subperiod, the last cultural subperiod of the Paleolithic era.
The excavation site was inhabited during the cold and dry global climatic event known as the Younger Dryas (11,600-12,900 years ago) when climatic changes caused Late Natufian groups in the Mediterranean to become increasingly mobile and smaller in size.
However, excavations at the site showed that groups in the Jordan Valley became more stationary and potentially larger in size during this period.
“The thick archeological deposits, the uniformity of the tool types, and the flint knapping technology indicate intensive occupation of the site by the same cultural entity,” said Dr. Grosman.
The research, which sheds light on the historical shift from foraging to agriculture, was funded by the American School of Prehistoric Research at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, the Israel Science Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.