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Ancient and large springs in the Jordan Valley were significant for the development of the agricultural revolution in the world

Yehuda Levy from the Institute of Earth Sciences of the Hebrew University, under the guidance of Prof. Haim Gebirtzman, found in his research that the spring water in the Jordan Valley enabled the evolution of early man and his transformation from a hunter-gatherer to a farmer who lived in a permanent place

The computer simulation of the groundwater level in the eastern aquifer of the Dead Sea. Photo: Yehuda Levy, Hebrew University
The computer simulation of the groundwater level in the eastern aquifer of the Dead Sea. Photo: Yehuda Levy, Hebrew University

The transition from the culture of hunter-gatherers who were nomadic to the culture of farmers who settled in a permanent place, known as the "agricultural revolution", occupied prehistoric archaeologists all over the world, and in particular the researchers in the Levant region, where the first agricultural revolution on earth took place. The findings for this revolution were discovered in many sites, scattered between the Haran Valley in Turkey and the Nile Delta in Egypt. However, the largest concentration of findings is found in the center of the Jordan Valley, near the settlements of Petzal and Netiv Hagodod, where many settlements from the Epi-Paleolithic and Neolithic periods (about 11 thousand years ago) were found that testify to the existence of this significant event in the history of ancient man.

As a result, the question has arisen for a long time, what is the source of the water that allowed the existence of all those settlements? The Lake of the Tongue, the main water reservoir that existed in the Jordan Valley at the time, was salty and not suitable for drinking, and sweet springs do not exist in the area at all. Therefore, the researchers wondered over the years how it was possible to irrigate the agricultural fields and domestic animals and in general, how it was possible to exist in this area?

The doctoral thesis of Yehuda Levy from the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem offers a solution to all these questions. According to him, at that time there were large springs that fed a marsh of fresh water, adjacent to the shore of the Tongue Lake. Some of the water that flows today in the rock springs then flowed near the settlements of Nativ HaGodov and Fetzel and contributed to their survival.

Levy has been conducting his research for the past four years under the guidance of Prof. Chaim Gvirtzman from the Hebrew University and Prof. Yossi Yehiali and Dr. Avi Borg from the Geological Institute. As part of his work, Levy built a computerized hydrological model describing the flow of groundwater in the Mizrachi Mountain Aquifer (the eastern basin of the Judea and Samaria mountains). This groundwater is fed by the rainwater that descends and percolates in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, and flows eastward within the crumpled and broken limestone and dolomite rocks. After its meandering flow in the eastern mountain aquifer, the groundwater mainly (about 90%) originates on the shore of the Dead Sea, in the rock springs, Cana and Samar, and the rest of the water (about 10%) originates in the Jericho and Ojah springs in the Jordan Valley.

In his work, Levy found that about 40% of the groundwater arose during the agricultural revolution in the center of the Jordan Valley, and only 60% in the Einat Tsukim, Cana and Samar area. In the center of the valley, the water flowed not only from the Jericho and Ojah springs, but also from springs that do not exist today - near the settlements that existed in the Epi-Paleolithic and Neolithic period near Netiv Gadod and Petzal. In other words, the water of the ancient springs enabled the evolution of the primitive man, and his transformation from a hunter-gatherer-nomad to a sedentary man who domesticated animals and grew agricultural crops.

The gradual transition from the last ice age (about 18,000 years ago) to the current interglacial period was accompanied by the shrinking of the lake that existed in the rift (the Syrian-African rift). During the glacial period, Lake Halshon stretched from the Kinneret to Hetzeva Brom (elevation) of about 200 meters under the Mediterranean Sea. In our time, the Dead Sea extends over a smaller area of ​​about 400 - under the Mediterranean Sea. The reduction of the lake's area was accompanied by the migration of the springs that flowed to the shore, and the migration of the population that existed near the springs. Indeed, in the archaeological studies, Prof. Nigel Goring-Morris from the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University identified that the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic settlements migrated south, from the Petzal area to the Netiv HaGod and Gilgal area and from there to the Ojah and Jericho area.

The hydrological model of the Eastern Mountain aquifer allows not only to reconstruct the past but also to predict the future. The study further states that if the Dead Sea continues to dry up, as it is happening today at an accelerated rate, its level is expected to drop to a height of 550 meters below sea level, and as a result there will be further changes in the flow regime and the location of the source of the springs that may affect all life in the area. Future studies by Yehuda Levy, Prof. Gebirtzman, Prof. Yehiali and Dr. Borg are expected to deal with the subject.

3 תגובות

  1. Each and every revolution depended on different resources, physical, cognitive, cognitive and more.
    The axis of development could not have developed without those fixed patterns that developed it.
    We live the moment, the situation itself.
    But you are the disappearing hand that embroiders those resources, ways and patterns we are not aware of.
    This limitation of our knowledge depends on our development, and it depends on an internal change, the change of our desire to receive, which is our regulator for the same reality we experience.
    Therefore, by changing the parts of the desire to receive, the experience of our knowing will expand.
    We will be able to recognize not only the image we see, but also those woven connections that hold and stabilize that image.
    An image that consists of several layers, the last of which is the root, from which the phenomena dangle into this world.

  2. Yes but…
    The springs alone do not provide a sufficient explanation, since irrigation with irrigated water is not known during the periods in question.
    The settlement of Jericho was made possible in part because of the drainage basin that carried alluvial soils to the plain below the city. Irrigation was actually by flooding, similar to ancient agriculture along the Nile, but relying on rain events and not on a rise in the level of a stream.
    For the same reason, a wall was needed in Jericho of the Pre-Ceramic Neolithic to defend against the alluvium, and this too was eventually completely buried.

    And what's more - when Herod founded Petzal and his son founded Archilais, the springs of Petzal and Oja were enough for a large city and to irrigate wide fields of tseri and dates.
    The explanation given here of the springs is insufficient and does not seem to take into account all the factors (it is possible that the work itself has such a reference).

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