Friday, May 22, 2009

Ancient Submerged Village at Atlit

This story about a Neolithic village submerged at Atlit has something of everything except a biblical character: environmental activism, the earliest known fishing town, undisturbed burials, a healthy diet but poor health, the earliest case of tuberculosis, ancient and modern global warming, and a Stonehenge-like circle of stones.  The title of the Jerusalem Post article is “Israel’s Atlantis”:

But in 1984, during an underwater archeological survey, Galili and his colleagues discovered the Atlit-Yam village - some 400 meters offshore. The submerged village, he says, is the largest and best-preserved prehistoric settlement ever uncovered off the Mediterranean coast. In an area of 40,000 square meters eight to 12 meters below sea level, the archeologists found remains of human habitation dating back 9,000 years to the late Pre-Pottery Neolithic period.

Putting together the jigsaw puzzle of their findings, the architecture of the dwellings and the radiocarbon dating sets the scene for what is thought to have been the earliest-known agro-pastoral fishing community, a claim that has gone undisputed by archeological authorities. Marine discoveries from the site are published in professional journals worldwide....

Recently, researchers identified signs of tuberculosis in the skeletons of a mother and child at the site. Mycobacterum tuberculosis, the principal agent of human TB, is believed to have evolved over the millennia. A multi-disciplinary team from Tel Aviv and the Hebrew Universities in Israel and Centers for Infectious Diseases in the UK together with the Israel Antiquities Authority put together the tests, including DNA. TB was generally held to have been transferred to humans from cattle, but there were no cows at Atlit-Yam. This led to the suggestion that the high density of the fishing village's population had facilitated the transmission of the disease. According to Dr. Helen Donoghue, the infected organism is "definitely the human strain of TB, in contrast to the original theory that human TB only evolved from bovine TB later on in history, after the domestication of animals."

The full article is here.

HT: Joe Lauer



Post a Comment

<< Home