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Israeli teams discovers ancient olive-eating practices below the sea

Israeli teams discovers ancient olive-eating practices below the sea

DANIEL SONNENFELD
/ THE MEDIA LINE


The discovery off the coast of Haifa made by a group of researchers from most major Israeli universities shows production of olives for eating started at least 6,600 years ago.

Olives / (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)

In an underwater site, dated to approximately 6,600 years ago, archeologists have discovered two stone structures filled with thousands of olive pits. The pits, most well preserved and whole, provide evidence that olives were processed industrially for eating at this very early stage. Previous evidence was unclear, with the earliest indications pointing to olives first being eaten in the first millennium BCE.

Olives and their oil are a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet and hold symbolic value in many countries. This latest study now shows that the residents of the area have not only been using olives for oil for thousands of years – as was previously revealed – but eating them as well.

The study was published last week in the journal Scientific Reports – Nature by researchers from the University of Haifa, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Volcani Center and other research institutions in Israel and abroad.

Dr. Ehud Galili, an archeologist at the Zinman Institute of Archeology at the University of Haifa, who discovered the site in the Mediterranean Sea off of Israel’s northern coast in 2011, told The Media Line that prehistoric sites are known to exist underwater in stretches near the coast that were above sea level during the world’s ice ages. “Storms sometimes shift the sand covering these sites,” he explained, adding that marine archeologists who are aware of this search for prehistoric remnants after a spell of bad weather.

The site of the discovery, called Hishulei Carmel, starts very close to the coast and stretches some 150 meters into the sea, Galili said. The specific structures in which the olive pits were discovered were located close to the beach and in very shallow sea. Two ovals built of slabs of stone were set with intent perpendicular to the ground, and the structures consisted of encirclements the size of small rooms in which, the Haifa archeologist said, “were olive pits 10 centimeters deep.”

Researching prehistoric sites requires multidisciplinary input from researchers with expertise in many different areas. To achieve this, the pits were sent to a diverse group of researchers at most major Israeli universities.

“We each worked on a different aspect,” Dr. Daphna Langgut of Tel Aviv University’s department of archaeology and ancient Near Eastern cultures, told The Media Line. Langgut, who is head of the laboratory of archaeobotany and ancient environments, said that she compared the degree to which the pits were broken to the remains of a previously discovered site, called Kfar Samir, in which olive oil was manufactured in the 8th century BCE. Kfar Samir, the oldest site of olive oil manufacturing discovered to date, is located some 1.5 km from Hishulei Carmel.

“I showed that most of the pits are whole, and those that aren’t were broken along the pits’ crease … their natural breaking point. The remains left from crushing olives for oil, however, consist of a of puree of olive pits,” she said.

“A concentration like this of thousands of whole pits that aren’t crushed attests to the fact that these olives were being prepared,” she told The Media Line. “In order to eliminate their bitterness you need to cure them, as we do to this day in salt water or coarse salt. In fact, the proximity of these pits to the sea teaches us that they probably used salt from the sea, or the seawater itself to cure the olives.”

This idea was strengthened during research conducted in the department of biotechnology and food engineering at the Technion. An experiment there, conducted by Prof. Ayelet Fishman, showed that it is possible to cure olives in seawater. “The pickling of olives in the utensils discovered there could have taken place after the fruit was washed repeatedly in seawater in order to reduce the bitterness, and then soaked in seawater, possibly with the addition of sea salt,” Fishman said in a statement released by Haifa University.

Langgut joked that the discovery gives Israel an edge in the patriotic competition among Mediterranean academics working on the subject, all of whom wish to prove that olives were first used in their country. And, on a more serious note, the researcher explained, the discovery holds implications for attempts to ascertain when fruit trees were first domesticated, a development connected to the growth of more complex societies.

Galili, who led the research, said that the wider importance of the Israelis’ joint discovery lies in the light it sheds on the evolution of olive and its uses, so vital to the region, its history and culture. He said he also hopes to see olives again being cured for eating in seawater, “as they were originally processed.”


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TV7 Israel News

TV7 Israel News

TV7 Israel News


1) Israel and Egypt sign a bilateral agreement on expanding gas-cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
2) NATO agrees to deploy additional forces in Iraq.
3) Iran refuses to talk with the United States unless all sanctions are lifted.

 


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1800-year-old coin found by soldier offers look at ancient life in Israel

1800-year-old coin found by soldier offers look at ancient life in Israel

ROSSELLA TERCATIN


One of its sides reads “of the people of Geva Phillipi”, [civic] year 217 (158–159 CE) together with the image of the Syrian moon god Men. The other face carries the portrait of Roman emperor Antonius Pius.

Coin obverse with head of the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius / (photo credit: NIR DISTELFELD/ ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Some 1,800-years ago, a traveler was making his way through the Carmel area and a coin fell from his pocket. Almost two millennia later, the artifact was found by an Israeli soldier during a training exercise, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.

“This coin joins only eleven such coins from known locations in the National Treasures Department collection. All the coins were found in northern Israel, from Megiddo and Tzipori to Tiberias and Arbel,” Dr Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the IAA’s Numismatics Department, said.

IDF soldier Ido Gardi with the coin he found in the Carmel area. (Nir Distelfeld/Israel Antiquities Authority)

The artifact bears images and text that allowed researchers to precisely identify its origin and dating: One of its sides reads: “of the people of Geva Phillipi”, [civic] year 217 (158–159 CE) together with the image of the Syrian moon god, Men. The other face carries the portrait of Roman emperor Antonius Pius.

“The coin discovered is one of the municipal coins minted in the city of Geva Philippi, also known as Geva Parashim,” Dr Avner Ecker, lecturer in classical archaeology at Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, explained.

“In the Roman period, cities [poleis] were granted the right to mint their own coins. The year marked on the coin is the year when the municipal council, evidently, was established, and its citizens were allowed self-government under the Roman Empire.”

The settlement of Geva was already mentioned by first century historian Josephus, a Jewish soldier who eventually defected to Rome, whose works are considered a fundamental source on the Jewish revolt against the Romans and on life in the Land of Israel at the time. The ancient scholar located the town on the foothills at the edge of the Jezreel Valley, not far from the Carmel.

“Herod settled his cavalry forces there [hence the name Geva Parashim, “City of Horsemen”] and in the Great Revolt, in 66–70 CE, local and Roman forces set out from there to fight Jewish rebels near Bet She’arim,” Ecker noted.

The Syrian god MEN (the moon god) surrounded by the legend “of the people of Geva Phillipi”, civic year 217 (158–159 CE). (Nir Distelfeld, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“Some believe that Geva is located near Sha’ar Ha’amakim, but most scholars identify the site as Tel Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek. Excavations conducted by Bar-Ilan University on the tell last summer unearthed remains of fortifications and buildings dating from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine period.”

Antonius Pius ruled over the Roman empire between 138 and 161 CE and earned the reputation of a just and humane sovereign. Among others, he repealed some of Rome’s harshest policies against Jews imposed by his predecessor, Hadrian.

Ido Gardi, the soldier who spotted the coin, received a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship by the IAA.

“This is an opportunity to call on any members of the public who have found coins, or any other ancient artifacts, to report them to the Israel Antiquities Authority,” said Nir Distelfeld, inspector for the IAA Northern District’s robbery prevention unit.

“We will come and transfer the find to the National Treasures Department, hopefully adding more data and enriching scholarly research with another piece of evidence from the past. It should be stressed that antiquities are national treasures, it is forbidden to actively seek them, and any chance finds must be reported to the Authority. The soldier, Ido Gardi, demonstrated exemplary civic behavior and we hope that he will act as an example for others who discover ancient finds.”


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Snow in Jerusalem

Snow in Jerusalem


Un bacari suelto en Israel


Dzisiaj w prognozie pogody zapowiedzieli możliwy śnieg w wysokich miastach, takich jak Safed czy Jerozolima. To sprawiło, że chciałem się z wami podzielić tym filmem nakręconym 8 lat temu, który wciąż jest aktualny, gdy Święte Miasto ubiera się za pannę młodą. Chociaż wideo nie jest nowe, nie idzie na marne. Nie wiem, czy uda mi się sfilmować śnieg w tym roku, to jest zapowiedź tego, co nadejdzie …

 


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Israel – Agriculture Exhibition

Israel – Agriculture Exhibition

21see


Join 21see’s Yuval Haklai at the yearly expo for “agricultural novelties.” Don’t let the name fool you — this expo highlights some of Israel’s most exciting advancements in agri-tech.


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