Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered the earliest evidence of organized warfare in the southern Levant region. A recent study published in the journal Atiqot 111 revealed hundreds of sling stones dating back around 7,200 years.

The discovery provides insight into conflict and weapon production during the Early Chalcolithic period (5800-4500 BCE).

The research was conducted by Dr. Gil Haklay and team from the Israel Antiquities Authority. They examined 424 sling stones uncovered at two large archaeological sites – Esur in the northern Sharon plain and Zippori in Lower Galilee.

The stones were almost identical in material, size, and shape. Most were finely crafted from hard limestone or dolomite. Their average length was 52mm, width around 32mm, and average weight of 60 grams.

The stones had been smoothed into an aerodynamic bi-conical shape, perfectly suited for slinging. According to the archaeologists, this allowed for accurate and effective projection.

Similar sling stones have been found elsewhere in Israel, from the Hula Valley and Galilee region in the north down to the Northern Sharon plain. However, this is the first time such a large concentration of sling stones was found through excavation.

The researchers say these sling stones provide the earliest evidence of warfare yet discovered in the southern Levant. The near identical nature of the hundreds of stones points to mass industrial production. The effort spent shaping the stones into lethal, accurate missiles indicates they were purpose-built as weapons.

The huge quantity of sling stones and labor invested in their manufacture suggests organized preparation for battle. Community-wide effort may have been required for such munition production. It appears Early Chalcolithic societies saw an escalation in warring, shifting from individual to mass-scale production employing many people.

The major concentration of sling stones demonstrates an intensification of military preparedness in the Early Chalcolithic region, likely between local powers.


Sources

Israel Antiquities Authority


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