Israeli archaeologists made headlines with the announcement of a stunning discovery in Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel.
Jerusalem was the capital of Israel over 3000 years ago, when historical and biblical figure King David reigned Israel from between approximately 1010 and 970 B.C. David’s son Solomon built the first Holy Temple on Mount Moriah, the place that is today home to the Muslim shrines Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Historians have determined that the history of the city goes back as far as the 4 millennium B.C.
Until now, the archaeological evidence surrounding Jerusalem’s early history (during the Copper Age) was limited to ceramic evidence. There is also physical proof of permanent settlement of the city during the Bronze Age during 3000-2800 B.C.
Now, however, Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a complete 7000-years-old settlement in the Arab neighborhood Shuafat in the north of Jerusalem.
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday the remains of the settlement were discovered during excavations carried out prior to the renovation of a road in Shuafat.
The excavations revealed two houses with well-preserved floors and pottery, flint tools, and a basalt bowl, the Antiquities Authority announced.
Experts have determined that the findings date back to 5000 B.C., which marks the beginning of the Chalcolithic era during which man began using copper tools. Dr. Omri Barzilai, who is the head of the Prehistory Department at the IAA, says that the find is the oldest proof of human settlement in the Jerusalem area.
“The Chalcolithic period is known in the Negev, the coastal plain, the Galilee and the Golan, but is almost completely absent in the Judean Hills and Jerusalem. Although in recent years we have discovered a few traces of Chalcolithic settlements, such as those at Abu Gosh, Motza Junction, and the Holyland compound in Jerusalem, they have been extremely sparse. Now, for the first time, we have discovered significant remains from 7,000 years ago,” Barzilai wrote in a statement by the IAA.
Earlier evidence of human settlement in the Jerusalem district dated back only two thousand years and historians thought that the area was first settled between 3000–2800 B.C.
Ronit Lupo, director of excavations for the Authority, said that the discovery shows that there was “a thriving settlement in the Jerusalem area in ancient times.”
“Thousands of years later, the buildings uncovered are of a standard that would not fall short of Jerusalem’s architecture,” she said today. “This discovery represents a highly significant addition to our research of the city and the vicinity. Apart from the pottery, the fascinating flint finds attest to the livelihood of the local population in prehistoric times.
Small sickle blades for harvesting cereal crops, chisels and polished axes for building borers and awls, and even a bead made of carnelian (a gemstone), indicate that jewelry was either made or imported,” Lupo said while adding that the IAA also found bones of cattle at the same spot.
“These will be analyzed further in the IAA laboratories, permitting us to recreate the dietary habits of the people who lived here 7,000 years ago, and enhancing our understanding of the settlement’s economy,” the IAA director said during a press conference.
Jerusalem, meaning “(he) will see peace or perfectness,” has enormous meaning for Jews. At every Jewish wedding ceremony the groom swears allegiance to the City when he says at the end of the wedding rituals “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not. If I set not Jerusalem above my most chief joy.” (Psalms 137: 5-6)
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