An excavation site in southern Israel produced a preserved tusk from a massive prehistoric elephant that once roamed the Mediterranean, providing what archaeologists described as a rare window into the lifestyle of the region’s first settlers.
Palaeoloxodon antiquus, an extinct species of straight-tusked elephant, is said to have left behind a 2.5-meter-long tusk that was discovered alongside other animal bones and stone and flint implements.
The director of the excavation, prehistorian Avi Levy of the Israel Antiquities Authority, declared in a statement that it was the largest intact fossil tusk ever discovered at a prehistoric location in Israel or the Near East.
The now-extinct species, which was much larger than African elephants, was hunted by humans for food and perhaps for symbolic reasons. It was a part of the diverse local fauna, which also included wild horses, cattle, deer, and wild boars.
According to Dr. Omry Barzilai of the Israel Antiquities Authority, ‘We anticipate that the finding of the new tusk in a clear archaeological context will throw light on this subject.’
The tusk will be on display once the conservation procedure is finished in a permanent exhibition space at the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in Jerusalem.