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Prehistoric building unearthed in Israel

Pieces of stone artifacts, evidence of an 8,000-year-old habitation, were displayed yesterday in Tel Aviv. Pieces of stone artifacts, evidence of an 8,000-year-old habitation, were displayed yesterday in Tel Aviv. (Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 12, 2010

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JERUSALEM - Archeologists have uncovered remains of an 8,000-year-old building as well as ancient flint tools in the modern city of Tel Aviv, Israel’s Antiquities Authority announced yesterday.

The building is the earliest structure found in Tel Aviv and changes what archeologists believed about the area in ancient times.

“This discovery is both important and surprising to researchers of the period,’’ said Ayelet Dayan, the archeologist who led the excavation. “For the first time we have encountered evidence of a permanent habitation that existed in the Tel Aviv region 8,000 years ago,’’ she said.

The three-room structure is believed to have been built in the Neolithic period, when humans went from a nomadic existence of hunting and gathering to living in permanent settlements and engaging in agriculture.

The remains were found near the Ayalon river, which Dayan said probably influenced the ancient dwellers’ decision to settle.

Pottery shards found at the site helped archeologists date the building.

Ancient artifacts including flint tools and hippopotamus bones from between 13,000 and 100,000 years ago were found nearby.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial and cultural center on the Mediterranean, was built on barren sand dunes a mere 100 years ago. The ancient remains were uncovered during construction in the affluent Ramat Aviv neighborhood.