A well dating from 8,500 years ago, with the bones of two prehistoric people inside, was uncovered during recent excavations in the Jezreel Valley, the Israel Antiquities Authority said on Thursday.

Archaeologists working on the Neolithic-period site found the skeletal remains of a young woman estimated to be about 19 years of age along with those of an older man at the bottom of the eight-meter deep well. Researchers do not know how the two came to their resting place at the bottom of the pit.

“What is clear is that after these unknown individuals fell into the well it was no longer used for the simple reason that the well water was contaminated and was no longer potable,” said the authority’s excavation director Yotam Tepper. “The impressive well that was revealed was connected to an ancient farming settlement and it seems the inhabitants used it for their subsistence and living.”

In addition to the human remains, numerous artifacts indicating the identity of the people who quarried it — the first farmers of the Jezreel Valley — were recovered from inside the well.

An Israel Antiquities Authority worker descends into a well discovered in the Jezreel Valley in 2012. (photo credit: Yotam Tepper, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

An Israel Antiquities Authority worker descends into a well discovered in the Jezreel Valley in 2012. (photo credit: Yotam Tepper, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

The finds included finely grooved sickle blades fashioned from flint and used for harvesting, as well as arrowheads and stone implements.

Tepper said the well reflected the impressive quarrying ability of the site’s ancient inhabitants and the extensive knowledge they possessed regarding local hydrology and geology, which enabled them to quarry the limestone bedrock down to the level of the water table.

“No doubt the quarrying of the well was a community effort that lasted a long time,” he noted.

“Wells from this period are unique finds in the archaeology of Israel, and probably also in the prehistoric world in general,” explained Dr. Omri Barzilai, head of the Prehistory Branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority,

The well, dug out by hand and 1.3 meters in diameter, was found at Einot Nisanit along the western fringes of the Jezreel Valley. The excavation was carried out prior to work by the National Roads Company to enlarge the Hayogev Junction on Highway 66. The Israel Antiquities Authority and National Roads Company intend to preserve the well and exhibit it as part of the sites around the Tel Megiddo archaeological site from different periods.