True Civilization Sites Predating the Neolithic Revolution | Ancient Origins Members Site


True Civilization Sites Predating the Neolithic Revolution

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Diorama showing trephination in Neolithic times (Wellcome Images / CC BY-SA 4.0)

True Civilization Sites Predating the Neolithic Revolution

The beginnings of what archaeologists often call ‘true civilization’ are most often attributed to the Neolithic Revolution, which began at different places around the world from around 10,000 BC. It marked one of the most important periods in human history when nomadic hunter-gatherer-fisher ancestors began settling as new agricultural methodologies were being developed. However, while most of the earliest known human settlements date back to the Neolithic, a collection of the archaeological sites predate them by sometimes tens of thousands of years and contain some of the earliest works of art on the planet. ‘True civilization’ could have been born long before the Neolithic Revolution.

The Taking of Jericho by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1896-1902) (Public Domain)

The Taking of Jericho by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (c. 1896-1902) (Public Domain)

Tell es-Sultan Jericho

 Age: c. 9000 BC;  Location:  Jericho, West Bank, Palestine;  Discovered: 1868;  Primary Use: Fortified settlement.

Scatterlings of flint tools and the remains of mudbrick houses were discovered in 1868 at Tell es-Sultan, also known as Tel Jericho, the site of Biblical Jericho which is today a UNESCO-nominated archaeological site on the West Bank, located two kilometers north of the center of Jericho. Inhabited from the 10th millennium BC this settlement is often referred to as ‘the oldest town in the world’ and during the Younger Dryas stadial, of colder climates and droughts, Tell es-Sultan was a popular camping ground for Natufian hunter-gatherer groups. According to Steven Mithen in his 2006 book After the ice: a global human history, 20,000-5000 BC this particular site was of great value because of the nearby Ein es-Sultan spring, around which ancient hunter-gatherers left tiny crescent-shaped microlith tools.


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