JERUSALEM, Israel - Archaeologists have been stunned by an incredible find near Jerusalem. It's a 9,000-year-old village that's providing a wealth of information about the Stone Age.
Located just off a busy highway outside Jerusalem, the neolithic village from the latter part of the Stone Age is a remarkable find.
"What we have here in Motza is a game-changer," archaeologist Jacob Vardi told CNN.
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Vardi has been doing this a long time and couldn't believe what was lying just below what was a vineyard.
"It was hard for me to accept this in the beginning, but archaeological evidence don't lie. What you see here is a building. We are inside a large room of a 9000 year building," said Vardi.
No one had any idea what was here until Jerusalem needed a new highway. In this part of the world, an archaeological survey always comes first and even experts accustomed to finding amazing things in this region were stunned -- not just by the village they found, but the size of it. They believe about 3,000 people lived here.
"Not only that we found the village, it's a mega-site. If I compare it to modern days, it can be equivalent to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv when we talk about the size. It's amazing," said Vardi.
One of the most remarkable things about the site is how ordered it is. Early "city planning" with houses laid out on main streets and side streets.
"We have areas that were probably kitchens with stone tools, grinding stones, sand mortars that used to process the lentils," said Vardi.
What they have already learned from this village about that period 9,000 years ago is enormous. The structure of society more complex than expected, the agricultural knowledge much greater, the tools more advanced than they imagined. And they've only just begun. The follow-up research and cataloging will take years and much, much more will be learned.
Vardi said it is the highlight of his career. Nothing could top this.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime project and I couldn't hope for anything better than this. It's an amazing discovery," said Vardi.
As for the highway plan that led to the discovery of this place, that road is still needed. After the site has been meticulously documented, cataloged, and digitally surveyed, some of it will be preserved for tourism and study. The rest will disappear once again under the much-needed highway.