Dimona, deep into the Negev, is off the beaten track. Best known for its nuclear power plant, and Nabatean remains, the development town is not on a lot of tourists’ itineraries. Especially in the summer where high temperatures are surging and Israelis are looking for a bit of shade and cool water, Dimona is not the place for most to be spending their time. Corona has changed the realities for many and with lockdowns and limited public transportation, people are staying local. Some youths in Dimona have spent their summer vacation on an archaeological dig – where else? In Dimona.
What they found is that Dimona hasn’t always been so far out of the way. A discovery of a flint quarry shows that Dimona, with no obvious natural resources, was very much on the map 100,000 years ago.
Ahead of construction of a planned solar energy field, an archaeological survey of the area was done. What was discovered there forced the development to be halted in order to further examine the site. Israel’s archaeological digs have suffered during Corona because no foreign volunteers were allowed into Israel for the 2020 summer digging season. So, for the Dimona excavation, the Israel Antiquities Authority turned to the youth of Dimona.
They dug at the site, located on the outskirts of Dimona, and found an exceptional technology from 100,000 years ago – flint knapping, known as Nubian Levallois. This technology originated in Africa as a unique method of carving flint stones to fashion spearheads,. Researchers follow the existence of Nubian spearhead sites in order to conjecture about the route ancient humans took out of Africa.
Many Nubian flint knapping sites have been found in the last decade in Arabia, leading researchers to believe that the early humans left Africa and went there. But this find shows that they also came to Dimona. The Dimona site is the most northern example of Nubian work which was found in situ – thus tying the migration to here. Flint stones are naturally found around Dimona so there were plenty of raw materials with which to work. The areas, however, does not have many other natural resources. One wonders what Dimona was like then? What did they eat and where were the sources of water that they drank? These questions are left unanswered for the time being.
One thing is clear though: back then, Dimona was a gateway to human expansion throughout the world.