February 12, 2008
Archaeologists working at the site of a 7,000-year-old village in Egypt's Faiyum depression excavate clay floors and hearths.
The site is the earliest farm settlement yet found in Egypt, providing a major breakthrough in understanding the enigmatic people of the late Stone Age who lived long before the appearance of the Egyptian pharaohs, experts say. (Read full story.
The discoveries were made by a joint U.S.-Dutch team of scientists digging deeper into a previously excavated mound of sand some 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Cairo
The remains of domesticated wheat, barley, pigs, sheep, and goatsall imported from the Middle East or Turkeywere also found, potentially adding a new chapter to the history of Egypt's contact with foreign cultures in pre-pharaonic times.
"It's a missing link, filling in a very important and poorly known phase of the development of agricultural systems, which led to the Pyramids and later civilizations," said Bruce Smith, an archaeobiologist and a member of National Geographic's Committee for Research and Exploration
(The latest phase of excavations done at Faiyum was funded by the National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News.)
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Photograph courtesy UCLA/RUG Faiyum Project/Willeke Wendrich