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Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a huge Neolithic settlement near Jerusalem, which they say is one of the largest ever found.

The prehistoric settlement was uncovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Thousands of arrowheads, pieces of jewelry and prehistoric figurines have been unearthed at the site near Motza Junction.

Experts say that the settlement is the largest found in Israel from the Neolithic period. “At least 2,000 – 3,000 residents lived here – an order of magnitude that parallels a present-day city!" said excavation directors Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Dr. Jacob Vardi, in a statement.

Large buildings were discovered at the site, which include places for public and ritual use. Plaster that had been used to create floors was found in some of the buildings. “Burial places have been exposed in and amongst the houses, into which various burial offerings have been placed – either useful or precious objects, believed to serve the deceased in the next world,” the researchers added. “These gifts testify to the fact that already during this ancient period, the residents of this site conducted exchange relationships with faraway places.”

A spear head dated to the middle bronze period. which was buried as burial offering in a warrior’s tomb. (Photo: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Items made of an unknown stone were found at the site, along with volcanic glass from Anatolia, which is in modern-day Turkey and sea-shells, both from the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

Archaeologists also discovered small hand-made stone bracelets that likely belonged to children.

Additionally, flint tools were found at the site, which includes thousands of arrowheads that were used for hunting, and potentially, warfare. Other items discovered include axes, sickle blades and knives.

Excavation works on the site.
(Photo: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Storage sheds were also containing preserved seeds were found during the excavation, offering a glimpse into the agricultural life of the settlement.

The excavation at Motza Junction is part of a highway widening project.

A bracelet found at the site. The size of the bracelets discovered indicates that they were probably given to children. (Photo: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israel continues to reveal fresh aspects of its incredible history. In a separate project, for example, archaeologists recently uncovered a stunning 1,600-year-old biblical mosaic in northern Israel.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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