HADERA : Israel archaeologists on Sunday last, unveiled the remains of a 5,000-year-old city that said was among the biggest from its era in the region, including fortifications, a ritual temple and a cemetery.

''We have here an immense urban construction, planned with streets that separate neighborhoods and public spaces,'' Yitzhak Pax of the Israeli Antiquities Authority said at the site near the Mediterranean in the country's centre.

He called it a major discovery in the region from the Bronze age.

The archaeological site known as En Esur ''is the largest site and the most important for the era'' in the region, said Etai Elad, another archaeologist overseeing the excavation.

''It is 650 dunams [0.65 square kilometres] meaning double what we know.''

A ritual temple was found within the ancient city along with rare figurines with human and animal, they said.

It also included burnt animal bones in a stone basin they called proof of sacrificial offerings.

The excavation allowed for an older settlement from some 7,000 years ago from the Chalcolithic period to be uncovered as well, though smaller than the other discovery.

Paz said the ancient city was the ''first steps in the process of urbanization'' in what was Canaan at the time.

Dina Shalem, another of the archaeologists, noted it included fortifications some 20 metres long and two metres high as well as a cemetery.

Around four million fragments found at the site, including pieces of pottery, flint tools and vases of stone and basalt, said Elad.  [AFP]


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