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Evidence of Early Domesticated Fruit Trees Found in Israel

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Israel Olive WoodTEL AVIV, UNIVERSITY—According to a statement released by Tel Aviv University, domesticated olive and fig trees were planted in the Jordan Valley some 7,000 years ago by the people who lived in the wealthy village of Tel Zaf. Dafna Langgut of Tel Aviv University identified lumps of charcoal unearthed by Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University at the site of Tel Zaf as the wood of olive and fig trees. Because olive trees did not grow naturally in the Jordan Valley, the researchers suggest that they were planted intentionally. Garfinkel and his colleagues also found large houses with courtyards and large-capacity granaries, pottery imported from Mesopotamia, obsidian from Anatolia, and a copper awl from the Caucasus at the site. Groves of domesticated trees would have contributed to a luxurious life, the researchers explained, since they yield crops for many years once the trees have been established. Olives, olive oil, and dried figs, which have a long shelf life, could have been offered as goods in long-distance trade. Stamps unearthed at Tel Zaf suggest that this accumulation of wealth was accompanied by the development of administrative procedures and perhaps even taxation, the researchers concluded. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Scientific Reports. To read about evidence for early production of olive oil in Sicily, go to "World Roundup: Italy."

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