Lonely Planet Writer

7000-year-old settlement unearthed in Jerusalem

Road workers in Israel have stumbled on an ancient human settlement which authorities believes could be a town-like settlement from 7000 years ago.

An established village dating back 7,000 years has been unearthed by road workers  digging in the east sector of the city of Jerusalem.
An established village dating back 7,000 years has been unearthed by road workers digging in the east sector of the city of Jerusalem. Image by StateofIsrael / CC BY 2.0

Archaeologists who have worked on the site now believe it could be the oldest and one of the most important discoveries of its kind.

What road workers stumbled on in Jerusalem is now being considered by archaeologists as of major importance
What road workers stumbled on in Jerusalem is now being considered by archaeologists as of major importance because it was an established settlement with burial grounds

The director of excavations for Israel’s Antiquities Authority, Ms Ronit Lupu said it was unique in that it was found within Jerusalem and was an established town with settlements and burial grounds.

During excavation, the archaeologists unearthed two houses that had well-preserved parts and their floors contained flint tools, basalt bowl and pottery vessels, reports the German international boradcaster, Deutsche Welle.

Ms Lupu said the items discovered were indicative of the Chalcolithic period, which originated in the region of 5000 BC.

During that period, people, although using stone tools still, were creating ceramics and were beginning to use copper tools for the first time.

Previously, smaller settlements dating back to the same era were discovered in Jordan and Israel but very little up to now in Jerusalem itself.

The head of the authority’s prehistory branch, Amnon Barzilai said the new dig had come up with an “established village” which proved that it was an inhabited area back to the Chalcolithic period.

That period in human history is seen by some experts as the bridge between the Stone and Bronze ages but up to this there was scant archaeological evidence which baffled many researchers.

Ms Lupu said the discovery ended a long quest because while people had a feeling there might be something there, but now they had found it.

Ironically, the valuable discovery came about as local authorities were undertaken road works in the east part of the city.

CNN reports that the excavation covered a small area of 50 square metres and Ms Lupu explained that there were no plans to extend the work at this stage.