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An international team has analyzed eight prehistoric individuals, including the first genome-wide data from a 15,000-year-old Anatolian hunter-gatherer, and found that the first Anatolian farmers were direct descendants of local hunter-gatherers. These findings provide support for archaeological evidence that farming was adopted and developed by local hunter-gatherers, rather than being introduced by a large movement of people from another area. Interestingly, the study also indicates a pattern of genetic interactions with neighboring groups.

Source: First Anatolian farmers were local hunter-gatherers that adopted agriculture

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Preservation work on the 1,600-year-old inscription and wine press unearthed at the home of a wealthy Samaritan in Tzur Natan. (Galeb Abu Diab/Israel Antiquities Authority)

 

By Amanda Borschel-Dan

Timesofisrael.com

Rare mosaic attests to the 1,600-year-old holdings of wealthy landowner ‘Master Adios’ in the heartland of a Samaria at war with the encroaching Christian empire

A salvage excavation ahead of the construction of a new neighborhood in the central Israel village of Tzur Natan has unearthed rare written evidence of much earlier occupation — 1,600 years earlier — when the agriculturally fertile area was racked by turmoil and rebellion.

Just outside an ancient wine press in the small southern Sharon Plain settlement, the Israel Antiquities Authority team discovered a well-preserved Greek inscription from the 5th century recording a blessing for one “Master Adios.”

According to Prof. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who deciphered the inscription, the short inscription reads, “Only God help the beautiful property of Master Adios, amen.”

Archaeological and historical evidence point to Adios as being a wealthy Samaritan landowner. Previous excavations at the site have also uncovered an ancient Samaritan synagogue that was converted into a church in the 6th century — just after the height of the Samaritan settlement in the region.

The current excavation, which ended this week, was conducted on behalf of the Israel Lands Authority and headed by Dr. Hagit Torge, who has dug there previously. In addition to the wine press and inscription, her team discovered “stone quarries with rock-cut depressions used for cultivating grapevines, apparently part of Master Adios’s estate,” according to the IAA press release.

“The inscription was discovered in an impressive winepress that was apparently part of the agricultural estate of a wealthy individual called Adios. This is only the second such winepress discovered in Israel with a blessing inscription associated with the Samaritans. The first was discovered a few years ago in Apollonia near Herzliya,” said Torge.

Master Adios would have been an elite member of the society, said Torge. “The location of the winepress is near the top of Tel Tzur Natan, where remains of a Samaritan synagogue were found with another inscription, and reveals Adios’ high status,” said Torge.

The current excavation adds insight into a previous well-documented one conducted by the Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research (TFAHR) Tzur Natan in 1989-1994. The TFAHR dig concentrated on a Samaritan agricultural-industrial complex, which was home to a donkey-mill for grinding wheat that the IAA release states was incised with a seven-branch candelabrum, and the aforementioned synagogue that was later converted into a Christian monastery and church. According to the detailed excavation report on Tzur Natan, there is ample evidence of agricultural activity in the region for millennia.

The erosion of the bedrock creates soil that is “especially good for vines and olives,” according to the report. Nearby is an ancient water source, the Springs of Dardar, which has aided the region’s continuous settlement since the pre-Neolithic period (see this 2007 excavation report) through the Ottoman era, during which the tomb of Sheikh Musharaf was constructed and other graves were dug around it (see the 2016 report). The current Tzur Natan settlement was founded in 1966 and is very close to the Green Line, or the de facto border with the West Bank.

Located a mere 18 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast, there was noted settlement activity at Tzur Natan during the Iron Age (10th-7th centuries BCE), in which two small villages were inhabited in the area and left remains of wine and olive presses. Later, during the Roman and Byzantine eras (2nd-5th centuries CE), the area was heavily cultivated. At that time some 120 wine presses, 50 olive presses, 50 cisterns and multitudes of agricultural terraces were noted in the region, according to the 1994 report.

These groups were repeatedly found every 100-200 meters… It was thus concluded that in this period the settlement was inhabited by farmers who own their own land and cut their own installations into their individual plots,” states the 1994 report. And the people who settled this land, were the Samaritans, found the Texas team’s archaeologists.

According to TFAHR archaeologist and historian Dr. William J. Neidinger, the Samaritans’ historical origins are not completely clear. One school of thought says they were brought to the Land of Israel by the conquering Assyrians. Another portrays them as peoples living in Israel during the time of the Assyrian conquest, who intermarried with Israelites who were not expelled, and began to worship the same God in a slightly different manner.

The animosity between Jews and Samaritans is clear in the historical record, however, according to Neidinger. Few Samaritans participated in the Jewish Revolt against the Romans (which ended in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple), and none joined the Second Jewish Revolt (132-35). Following the second uprising, in fact, Samaritans often were granted or occupied land from which Jewish farmers were expelled.

The Samaritan community prospered through the 3rd and 4th centuries, until the rise of Christianity during the Byzantine era, which spelled the beginning of the end for the community. Today it only has a small foothold, at Mount Gerizim and in Holon.

After religious persecution and desecration of their holy sites, the Samaritan community embarked upon a series of rebellions that began in 415 CE and continued off and on until 636. According to Neidinger, the most serious rebellion was in 529, which is noted in the annals of the historian Procopius.

A rebellion, states Neidinger, requires capital as well as willing, armed men. That riddle was probed during the Texas team’s excavation at Tzur Natan, which gave insight to the potential wealth amassed by the Samaritan community, he wrote.

The newly discovered estate, wine press and inscription in praise of a wealthy lord, add a further layer of understanding to the Samaritan culture of this “rebellious era,” some 1,600 years ago.

 

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Archaeologists think that pottery artifacts at an ancient winery were used for daily activities by the people who worked there.
Credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Arab Republic of Egypt

By Mindy Weisberger,

Livescience.com

 

Archaeologists recently uncovered ancient storage rooms in a 2,000-year-old winery, at a site in Egypt’s Nile Delta to the north of Cairo.

Inside these rooms — which appeared to be climate-controlled for keeping wine — archaeologists also found coins, pots used in winemaking and other pottery objects, said officials with the Ministry of Antiquities for the Arab Republic of Egypt (MOA), who shared the find in a Facebook post today.

The rooms were linked to a larger winery complex, which had already been partly unearthed during earlier excavations. Based on evidence gathered during this latest dig, experts suspect that there may be additional buildings nearby, which housed the winery’s employees and their supervisors thousands of years ago, according to the Facebook post

The winery was built in what is now the Beheira governorate on Egypt’s northern coast, during the Greco-Roman era — which lasted from the fourth century B.C. to the seventh century A.D., the Associated Press reported. During that time, this region of the Nile Delta was renowned for producing some of the finest wine in Egypt, Ayman Ashmawy, head of ancient Egyptian artifacts at MOA, said on Facebook.

Walls that made up the newfound storage chambers were thick and built from mud bricks; in some places, the walls incorporated limestone slabs of different sizes. This building technique probably helped to cool the chamber and regulate the temperature of the stored wine, Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Facebook.

A set of kilns and assorted pottery artifacts associated with daily activities was found alongside coins that spanned centuries: from the time of Ptolemy I Soter, a successor of Alexander the Great who ruled Egypt from 323 B.C. to 285 B.C., to the Islamic conquest from A.D. 639 to A.D. 646, MOA reported.

Archaeologists also found painted shards that may have once covered a building’s walls, as well as fragments of a mosaic layer that could have decorated the floor. These decorative elements hint at the presence of yet another building in the winery complex — possibly a residential structure for people who worked there, Ashmawy said.

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11,500 years ago in what is now northeast Jordan, people began to live alongside dogs and may also have used them for hunting, a new study from the University of Copenhagen shows. The archaeologists suggest that the introduction of dogs as hunting aids may explain the dramatic increase of hares and other small prey in the archaeological remains at the site.

Source: 11,500-year-old animal bones in Jordan suggest early dogs helped humans hunt

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Vanilla

 

 

Original article:

Archaeology.org

Source: Possible Vanilla Chemicals Detected in Bronze Age Tomb in Israel

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Giza Plateau 2018

 

Original Article:

By DANIEL WEISS

Archaeology.org

 

A large number of livestock bones found in a mound of settlement debris on Egypt’s Giza Plateau are offering possible insights into the diet of workers who toiled there some 4,500 years ago. Amid the debris, archaeologists from Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) have unearthed sealings dating to the reign of the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Khafre (r. ca. 2520–2494 B.C.), along with chunks of painted plaster suggesting the material is from wealthy settlements.

They also found a concentration of long, meat-bearing sheep and goat bones, many of whose ends had been snapped off. Two Egyptian archaeologists taking part in a field school at the site immediately recognized that the snapped-off ends were likely used to make gelatin soup, a cheap source of protein enjoyed to this day in Egypt. AERA director Mark Lehner suggests the meat from the bones was likely reserved for the area’s elites, while workers—quite possibly those who built Khafre’s pyramid, the second largest in Giza—were allotted the bone ends to make a protein-rich stew.

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Jaw with a durophagous dentition consisting of teeth with thick enamel of the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata): The large molariform tooth was used for oxygen isotope analysis and to estimate the size of the fish. photo/©: Guy Sisma-Ventura, Israel

original article:

Popular-archaeology.com

 

JOHANNES GUTENBERG UNIVERSITAET MAINZ—Some 3,500 years ago, there was already a brisk trade in fish on the shores of the southeastern Mediterranean Sea. This conclusion follows from the analysis of 100 fish teeth that were found at various archeological sites in what is now Israel. The saltwater fish from which these teeth originated is the gilthead sea bream, which is also known as the dorade. It was caught in the Bardawil lagoon on the northern Sinai coast and then transported from Egypt to sites in the southern Levant. This fish transport persisted for about 2,000 years, beginning in the Late Bronze Age and continuing into the early Byzantine Period, roughly 300 to 600 AD. “Our examination of the teeth revealed that the sea bream must have come from a very saline waterbody, containing much more salt than the water in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Professor Thomas Tütken of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The geoscientist participated in the study together with colleagues from Israel and Göttingen. The Bardawil lagoon formed 4,000 years ago, when the sea level finally stabilized after the end of the last Ice Age. The lagoon was fished intensively and was the point of origin of an extensive fish trade.

As demonstrated by archeological finds, fishing was an important economic factor for many ancient cultures. In the southern Levant, the gilthead sea bream with the scientific name of Sparus aurata was already being fished by local costal fishermen 50,000 years ago. More exotic fish, such as the Nile perch, were already being traded between Egypt and Canaan over 5,000 years ago. However, the current study shows the extent to which the trade between the neighbors increased in the Late Bronze Age and continued for 2,000 years into the Byzantine Period. “The Bardawil lagoon was apparently a major source of fish and the starting point for the fish deliveries to Canaan, today’s Israel, even though the sea bream could have been caught there locally,” stated co-author Professor Andreas Pack from the University of Göttingen.

Fish teeth document over 2,000 years of trade

Gilthead sea bream are a food fish that primarily feed on crabs and mussels. They have a durophagous dentition with button-shaped teeth that enable them to crush the shells to get at the flesh. For the purposes of the study, 100 large shell-cracking teeth of gilthead sea bream were examined. The teeth originate from 12 archeological sites in the southern Levant, some of which lie inland, some on the coast, and cover a time period from the Neolithic to the Byzantine Period. One approach of the researchers was to analyze the content of the oxygen isotopes ^18O and ^16O in the tooth enamel of the sea bream. The ratio of ^18O to ^16O provides information on the evaporation rate and thus on the salt content of the surrounding water in which the fish lived. In addition, the researchers were able to estimate the body size of the fish on the basis of the size of the shell-cracking teeth.

The analyses showed that some of the gilthead sea bream originated from the southeastern Mediterranean but that roughly three out of every four must have lived in a very saline body of water. The only water that comes into question in the locality is that of the Bardawil lagoon, the hypersaline water of which has a salt content of 3.9 to 7.4 percent, providing the perfect environment for the growth of sea bream. The Bardawil lagoon on the Sinai coast is approximately 30 kilometers long, 14 kilometers wide, and has a maximum depth of 3 meters. It is separated from the Mediterranean by a narrow sand bar.

There was a mainland route from there to Canaan, but the fish were probably first dried and then transported by sea,” added Tütken. Even back then, sea bream were probably a very popular food fish, although it is impossible to estimate actual quantities consumed. However, it became apparent that the fish traded from the period of the Late Bronze Age were significantly smaller than in the previous era.

According to the researchers, this reduction in body size is a sign of an increase in the intensity of fishing that led to a depletion of stocks, which is to be witnessed also in modern times. “It would seem that fishing and the trade of fish expanded significantly, in fact to such a degree that the fish did not have the chance to grow as large,” continued Tütken, pointing out that this was an early form of the systematic commercial exploitation of fish, a type of proto-aquaculture, which persisted for some 2,000 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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