Israelis unearth the remains of an ancient metropolis

Israeli archaeologists have unveiled the remains of a 5000-year-old city they say was among the biggest from its era in the region, including fortifi­cations, a temple and a cemetery.

“We have here an immense urban construction, planned with streets that separate neighbourhoods and public spaces,” Yitzhak Paz of the Israel Antiquities Authority said at the site near the Mediterranean on Sunday.

He called it a major discovery in the region from the Bronze Age. The archaeological site known as En Esur “is the largest site and the most important from that era” in the region, said Itai Elad, another archaeologist overseeing the excavation.

“It is 650 dunams (0.65sq km), meaning double what we know.”

A ritual temple was found within the ancient city along with rare figurines with human and animal faces, they said. It also included burnt animal bones in a stone basin that they called proof of sacrificial offerings.

The excavation allowed for an older settlement from some 7000 years ago from the Chalcolithic period to be uncovered as well, though smaller than the other discovery.

Dr Paz said the ancient city was the “first steps in the process of urbanisation” in what was ­Canaan at the time. Dina Shalem, another of the archaeologists, noted it included fortifications about 2m high as well as a ­cemetery.

Read the article in The Australian (AFP).