Maritime archaeologists from Australia and Israel are excavating a 7,500-year-old underwater village that may have been the oldest olive oil production center in the world. The Levantine village dating back to the Neolithic period is submerged under 5 meters of water at a site called Kfar Samir off the coast of Haifa, Israel.
The excavation team is made up of maritime archaeologists Jonathan Benjamin from Flinders University, Australia and Ehud Galili, of the Israel Antiques Authority and the University of Haifa, Israel. Previous excavations at the site have suggested olive oil may have been produced in the prehistoric settlement, which would make it the world’s oldest center for olive oil production.
A 1997 study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, described the underwater excavations at Kfar Samir which uncovered thousands of crushed olive stones and olive pulp buried in pits. The discovery revealed that olive oil production technology was used in this region as early as 6,500 years ago, 500 years earlier than previously believed.
During the recent excavations, the research team dug out a structure which was once a fresh water well that had later been used for waste disposal. The researchers took samples of the sand covering the well which when analyzed may give important insights into the society that once lived in the ancient village, including details about their early Mediterranean diet and trade practices.