NEW YORK (Dec. 27)
A settlement that existed 1,000 or 2,000 years near Beersheba before Abraham made the famous water-rights contract with Abimelech there, is now being uncovered, the New York Times reported today from Beersheba.
The discoverer of the ancient community is a young French archaeologist, Jean Perrot, who is directing the exploration for the French National Center of Scientific Research with the assistance of Israel’s Department of Antiquities and the municipality of Beersheba.
Mr. Perrot says that the settlement is older by a couple of thousand years than any other found in Palestine, and that it indicates a pattern of life at the “dawn of civilization” in this area. One hundred or so people apparently lived in the hill in little round houses connected with each other by tunnels. Mr. Perrot’s diggers have cut into ten of these houses and laid bare the pattern, which has been preserved in wind-blown soil that eventually covered the whole settlement.
Below the floors of the houses are silos in which were found grains of wheat and barley, grape seeds and beans. One of the houses had been used for the smelting of copper. M. Perrot has located a few pounds of copper in this refinery and has found copper tools and ornaments throughout the old apartment house. Chemical tests suggest that the copper ore came from a rich deposit in the Jordanian hills.