Israeli archaeologists announced on Sunday they have uncovered a rare site dating back some half a million years — just next to a modern highway and only several metres underground. Archaeologists envision the site at Jaljulia, northeast of Tel Aviv, as a sort of “paradise” for prehistoric hunter-gatherers, with a stream, vegetation and an abundance of animals.
They have uncovered hundreds of flint handaxes as part of the dig just next to Route 6, one of Israel’s busiest highways, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
“It’s hard to believe that between Jaljulia and highway 6, five metres below the surface, an ancient landscape some half of a million years old has been so amazingly preserved,” Ran Barkai, head of Tel Aviv University’s archaeology department, which participated in the dig, said in a statement.
He added that “for people, it was like a paradise, so they came here again and again.” The site is associated with homo erectus, a direct ancestor of today’s humans.
The dig began at the site squeezed between Jaljulia and the highway because of construction plans for the area, which required archaeological approval beforehand, the antiquities authority said. According to the authority, prehistoric humans may have returned to the area as part of a seasonal cycle.