Israel Bronze Age New York, 5000-year-old NYC-style metropolis uncovered.
One of ancient Near East’s largest and most central cities, home to about 6,000 people some 5,000 years ago, was revealed on Sunday by the Israel Antiquities Authority along with an even older settlement discovered underneath the buildings.
”Even in our wildest imaginings, we didn’t believe we would find a city from this time in history,” said IAA archaeologist Dina Shalem. The size of both the city – about 650 dunams (161 acres) — and the settlement on which it was built — about 450 dunams — offers a unique excavation opportunity likely to increase understanding of ancient peoples.
In the public area of the 5,000-year-old city, archaeologists discovered an unusual ritual temple with a huge stone basin for liquids used during religious ceremonies in its courtyard, as well as a facility for burnt animal bones, and rare figurines, the authority said. “What we are calling a temple is a very unique building, we don’t know of anything like it,” said Shalem.
The cities were found as part of an excavation initiated by Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd. as it prepared to construct an interchange road to the Israeli town of Harish, near Haifa. As a rule, Israel carries out excavations before it starts big construction projects, to ensure no ancient finds such as these are destroyed.
The site is exciting to archaeologists as little or no texts have been found documenting civilization from this time, meaning there is a unique opportunity to learn much more about ”subjects unknown until now,” said Shalem. The communities were likely drawn to the area by two active springs offering water year-round and good farm land, she added.
“There is no doubt that this site dramatically changes what we know about the character of the period and beginning of urbanization in Israel,” said a press release from the authority that called the find “the early bronze age New York of our region, a cosmopolitan and planned city.”
The uncovering of the temple along with figurines of animals, a small stone replica of a human head, a seal showing a man standing next to an animal, lifting his arms to the heavens and other discoveries “allow us to look beyond the material into the spiritual life of the large community that lived at the site,” the release said.
Israel will build its new interchange high above the ruins, in order to preserve it for future generations.