Screens & Feeders

Ancient quarry captures civilisation?s cultural evolution

The quarry site was discovered on Kaizer Hill near the Israeli city of Modi’in and, according to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the earliest known Neolithic quarry in the southern Levant region.

Kaizer Hill quarry was said to date back 11,000 years to a time when civilisation was transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to farming.

A key feature of the site were the man-made, cup-shaped marks in its rock. It was previously believed that such cup marks were primarily used for food preparation, grinding or other social activities. However, a recent study undertaken by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem offered a new interpretation on the marks, proposing that they were signs of large-scale tool manufacture instead.

“At the peak of the hill, we found damaged rock surfaces, providing evidence to quarrying activity aimed at extracting flint nodules…” Dr Leore Grosman, one of the authors of the study, stated.

Professor Naama Goren-Inbar, the study’s second author, said, “Various quarrying marks, including cup marks, showed that the cutting of stones was done in various strategies, including identifying potential flint pockets, creating quarrying fronts on the rocks, removing blocks to allow extraction of flint, creating areas for quarrying dump, and using drilling and chiselling as a primary technique for extracting flint.”

The archaeologists noted that the cultural shift towards producing food rather than acquiring it had been accompanied by changing attitudes towards the landscape, particularly in relation to how nature could be used to benefit humans.

“The economic shift, from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, was accompanied by numerous changes in the social and technological spheres,” Goren-Inbar remarked.

Grosman added, “Humans became more dominant and influential in their terrestrial landscape and Kaizer Hill quarry provides dramatic evidence to the alteration of the landscape.”

The archaeologists’ research was recently published in the PLOS ONE journal.

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