Israeli archaeologists have unearthed a 7,000-year-old settlement in northern Jerusalem in what they say is the oldest discovery of its kind in the area, the AP reports. Israel's Antiquities Authority said Wednesday that an excavation exposed two houses with well-preserved remains and floors containing pottery vessels, flint tools, and a basalt bowl. Ronit Lupo, the authority's director of excavations, says the items are representative of the early Chalcolithic period, around 5,000BC. "Apart from the pottery, the fascinating flint finds attest to the livelihood of the local population in prehistoric times: small sickle blades for harvesting cereal crops, chisels and polished axes for building ... even a bead made of carnelian [a gemstone], indicating that jewelry was either made or imported," Lupo says, per the Times of Israel.
Similar developments have been found elsewhere in present-day Israel but not in Jerusalem. The site was discovered while authorities were doing roadwork in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. The remains reportedly are up to 2,000 years older than other evidence of human settlements previously found in the area, the Times notes. Lupo says, per the AP, that this "is the first time we found architecture of this kind in Jerusalem itself," noting that it points to "an established society, very well organized, with settlement, with cemeteries." A bunch of animal bones were also found at the site, which Lupo tells the Times will be used to analyze the diet and economic habits of people back then. (America's oldest European settlement was found in Florida.)