Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of a Stone Age culture on the route of a planned rail line in northern Israel, including obsidian arrowheads and fertility objects like a stone phallus and a carved depiction of female genitalia.
The oldest ruins at the site date to 9,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said, but it was still inhabited thousands of years later. The location was excavated in a salvage dig ahead of the construction of new train tracks from Haifa to Carmiel.
The findings include the most complete buildings from that time discovered so far in Israel, and some of the oldest evidence of organized legume agriculture in the Middle East, archaeologists Yitzhak Paz and Yaakov Vardi said in a statement.
The objects discovered at the site also show that residents traded with faraway cultures, they said.
“The large number of tools made from obsidian, which is not found in Israel, shows trade ties with Turkey, Georgia and other areas as long ago as this period,” read the statement, released earlier this month.
The fertility objects, like the small stone phallus, “also represented the fertility of the land,” they said. The archaeologists link those findings to a civilization that existed in what is now Israel between 5500 and 4500 BCE.
The civilization, known as the Wadi Rabbah culture, was named for the first site at which it was discovered northeast of Tel Aviv in the 1950s.