An exceptional hoard, which includes more than one hundred prehistoric blades and implements, was discovered in the excavations that are currently being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the Yiftah’el antiquities site in the Lower Galilee.
The cache, which comprises eighty flint blades, eight arrowheads, three lumps of flint, two sickle blades and two bone implements, was apparently concealed in a pit that was dug in the floor of a building and dates to the Pre-pottery Neolithic Period B (9,000-8,700 YBP).
The excavations are being carried out as part of the work initiated by the Israel National Roads Company and are being implemented by the Israel Antiquities Authority, prior to the construction of an interchange at the Movil Junction.
A preliminary examination of the cache has revealed that these tools were produced by expert flint knappers who lived at the site and were engaged in the industrial knapping of blades, some of which were intended for local consumption, but most were knapped with the aim of exchanging them for other goods. The knappers’ high degree of professionalism is evidenced by the technology which they employed – the blades were knapped utilizing a flint knapping technology referred to as naviform technology. This technology was used to produce long, straight blades from lumps of flint that have two opposing striking platforms, while exploiting the flint bulbous in the most optimal manner.
Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, director of the excavation at the Yiftah’el site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, stated “the hoard from Yiftah’el is unique, both from the standpoint of its contents and the number of items in it. The discovery of a number of arrowheads in different stages of preparation among the hoard’s components reflects the nature of it – a kind of domestic stockpile that was hidden away and meant for future use; that is to say, for bartering. If today we talk about hiding money under the mattress for use on a rainy day, then in the period prior to the invention of coins people accumulated products that they themselves would produce in order to exchange them for other items when they would need them”.
Dr. Khalaily added that “hoards of flint blades are a rarity in Neolithic sites. That notwithstanding, in recent years a number of flint hoards have been found at important sites in the southern part of the Levant. The first of these caches was discovered at the end of the 1960’s in Beida, Jordan, and consisted of approximately eighty blades and tools produced from indigenous flint that were hidden inside a wooden bowl. The discovery of such hoards in a limited number of Neolithic sites shows that these sites were central sites where a sophisticated social and economic system prevailed. Agricultural flourished for the first time during the Neolithic period, as did the first domestication of plants and animals. It was at this time when man’s existence changed from a nomadic one to one in which he resided in permanent settlements and modern society, technology and trade began to develop.
Dr. Khalaily adds “the discovery was facilitated by the group of veteran laborers employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority whose extensive experience in the delicate work of prehistoric excavations made the exposure of the hoard possible”.