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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/25/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Copper awl suggests metal was used earlier than thought.

A copper awl unearthed in the Middle East suggests that metals were exchanged across hundreds of miles in the region more than 6,000 years ago, centuries earlier than previously thought.

This copper awl, discovered in Israel near the Jordan River suggests that metal use occurred earlier than previously thought.

This copper awl, discovered in Israel near the Jordan River suggests that metal use occurred earlier than previously thought.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/25/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Middle East, History, International


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This artifact was unearthed in Tel Tsaf, an archaeological site in Israel located near the Jordan River. The area was a village from about 5100 B.C. to 4600 B.C. and was first discovered back in 1950, with digs occurring from the 1970s through the present day.

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The ancient village possessed large buildings made of mud bricks and a great number of silos that could each store between 15 and 30 tons of wheat and barley, an unprecedented scale for the ancient Near East. The village had many roasting ovens, all filled with burnt animal bones, which suggests that large events were held there.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.


More excitingly, scientists have unearthed items made from obsidian, a volcanic glass with origins in Anatolia or Armenia, as well as shells from the Nile River and pottery from either Syria or Mesopotamia. These findings suggest that Tel Tsaf was a community for international commerce that possessed great wealth.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.


Archaeologists discovered the copper awl in the grave of a woman who had been about 40 when she died. She had a belt around her waist made of 1,668 ostrich-egg shell beads. The copper awl was set in a wooden handle, and since it was buried with the women, researchers assume it belonged to her.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.

Pictures from the ancient village of Tel Tsaf in Israel near the Jordan river.


"The appearance of the item in a woman's grave, which represents one of the most elaborate burials we've seen in our region from that era, testifies to both the importance of the awl and the importance of the woman, and it's possible that we are seeing here the first indications of social hierarchy and complexity," said study co-author Danny Rosenberg, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa in Israel.

Before the awl was discovered, the earliest evidence of metal use in that area of the world was found in the southern Levant, and included copper artifacts and gold rings dating from 4500 B.C. to 3800 B.C. but this awl suggests that metal may have been used as early as 5100 B.C.

The grave also shows "the complexity of the people living in Tel Tsaf around 7,000 years before present," Rosenberg told Live Science. "The find suggests that the people of Tel Tsaf were engaged in or at least had acquaintance with advanced technology, metallurgy, hundreds of years before the spread of copper items in the southern Levant."

The use of the awl remains uncertain. "In this area, far more is unknown than is known, and although the discovery of the awl at Tel Tsaf constitutes evidence of a peak of technological development among the peoples of the region and is a discovery of global importance, there's a lot of progress still to be made and many parts of the wider picture are still unknown to us," said Rosenberg.

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