'Elite' Stone Age village found in Israel

Dec. 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM
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NAZARETH, Israel, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- An excavation in Israel has found artifacts linking the residents of an ancient village to Mesopotamia and other distant civilizations, archaeologists say.

The discovery near Nazareth provides insights into Stone Age upper class society and commerce in the area, archaeologist Yair Milevski said.

"We discovered some kind of elite part of society that lived in this village and who were in contact with other cities in the northern Levant -- even in Anatolia and Mesopotamia," Milevski told China's Xinhua news agency.

Hundreds of artifacts unearthed have been identified as a part of the local Wadi Rabah culture from the very end of the Stone Age, a 3.4-million year era generally considered to have ended between 4,500 and 2,000 B.C. before the Bronze Age, he said.

They prove the culture had strong commercial ties with other regions as distant as Mesopotamia and Anatolia in current Turkey, he said.

"This kind of commerce was not uncommon, but what's special is that we have a large collection of items in the same place, and most probably they were conducting these exchanges through terrestrial [land-based] means," Milevski said.

Artifacts unearthed included bowls filled with hundreds of colored flint beads and engraved earthenware showing influence from Mesopotamia and Syria.

"We think that they had barter deals, because they didn't have money, and sometimes this exchange was coming from faraway sites since we also found items made from obsidian coming from Anatolia and other parts of Turkey, as well as other items from Syria and northern Levant region," Milevski said.

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