The Eshtaol excavations uncovered this 10,000 year old house, the oldest known domestic structure in the Shephelah. Credit: Dr. Ya‘akov Vardi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations at Eshtaol recently uncovered the remains of a 10,000-year-old house in the Judean Shephelah, the lowland west of Jerusalem, as well as a later cult site, stone axes and other Neolithic remains. The excavations, which were conducted before a proposed Israeli highway expansion, revealed several stages of the millennia-long narrative of early cultural development at Eshtaol, a site associated with the birth and burial of Samson in the Biblical period (Judges 13:25; 16:31).
In an IAA press statement, archaeologists Amir Golani, Ya‘akov Vardi, Benyamin Storchan and Ron Be’eri describe the significance of the 10,000-year-old domestic building (pictured to the right), which dates to the transitional Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. “It should be emphasized that whoever built the house did something that was totally innovative because up until this period man migrated from place to place in search of food. Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings and that in fact is the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants; instead of searching out wild sheep, ancient man started raising them near the house.”