Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 15 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Nikolaus Gross
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

500,000-year-old “picnic site” in Israel surprises archaeologists

ARCHAEOLOGY,PICNIC,HAND AX

21See | YouTube

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/15/18

A trail of garbage indicates that pre-historic people had their favorite meeting spots, too.

The discovery of pre-historic “picnic site” or meeting spot next to a highway in Israel shows that people living half a million years ago were perhaps more advanced than scientists had thought.

Archaeologists at the site, in an ancient river bed in Israel, discovered hundreds of thousands of tools, including some that were more advanced than the typical hand axes that had been previously unearthed.

HAND AXES,ANCIENT
Yitzhak Marmelshtein | Israel Antiquities Authority

According to a report at Haaretz.com, the typical carved hand ax (jokingly called “the Swiss army knives of the Paleolithic” by Ran Barkai, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University) was a far more intricate tool that was produced in two stages:

First, the flint core was carefully knapped into a specific shape. Then, with one decisive stroke, the knapper would detach a flake that already had the form and size of the desired tool. “It requires a conceptual leap that allows you to envision the desired tool in the flint core before you even start shaping it,” Barkai says. This technique yields longer and thinner flakes, and may have been developed because hominids were starting to attach tools to wooden shafts, rather than just bludgeon away at things with their handheld axes, the archeologist speculates.

In addition, the site, which contained a wealth of tools and animal bones, indicated that the humans living at this time returned to the spot again and again. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, the finding indicates that these hunter-gatherers had a “geographical memory” that they utilized to return to a particular spot on a seasonal basis.

JALJULIA,PICNIC AREA
Shmuel Magal | Israel Antiquities Authority

Of this unique window into the lives of our ancesters, archaeologist Barkai told the Jersualem Post, “Our collective human past lies buried under the ground, and we have a one-time opportunity to travel 500 thousand years back in time and get to know the prehistoric humans who lived here before us, between Jaljulya and Route 6.”

Tags:
Archaeology
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
FORGIVING COUPLE
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
D'CRUZ FAMILY
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.