Sunday 29 November 2009

Sha'ar HaGolan. A tale of the accidental archaeologists -

 When the members of Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan dug fishponds in their fields in 1943, they accidentally uncovered a major prehistoric site. Partially excavated from 1948 to 1962 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the unique culture found there became known as the Yarmukian or Sha’ar HaGolan Culture. New excavations, since 1989, uncovered impressive remains of a neolithic village, dating back well over 5000 years. The village spreads over many acres and is located south of the Sea of Galilee, on the bank of the Yarmuk River which flows into the Jordan just south of the site. Several buildings were uncovered which would have had thatched and a range of vessels was found, including flat basalt slabs and concave basalt mortars for domestic use. At the centre of the village stood a very large, extremely well-constructed building, obviously serving some public functions. It seems that the village had a developed mixed-economy culture of fishing, hunting and grain-cultivating. Flint tools were widely used including sickle blades inserted into handles of bone or wood; arrowheads, polished axes, scrapers and awls. During this period, when pottery vessels first appeared in the Middle East, the potters of Sha’ar HaGolan produced a variety of sophisticated, well-fired vessels – round open shapes for bowls and closed forms for jars, many with flat bases on which they stood firmly. They seemed to be keen on fertility figurines too. 

The finds from the Neolithic village of Sha’ar HaGolan reveal a new, previously unknown culture in Israel. The previous view, that there were only nomadic hunter/gatherers in the land at this time, has been completely turned upside down. Visit Kibbutz Sha'ar HaGolan on Route 7589, just 2 km south of Lake Kinneret, where you turn east off Route 90. 

To view a Google map of this site, please click here.

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