Archaeologists say city, which dates back 5,000 years and was home to 6,000 residents, marked the beginning of urbanization in the Land of Israel and changes what was previously known about Canaanite era.
A 5,000-year-old metropolis, the largest uncovered in Israel to date, has been excavated near Ein Iron, northeast of Hadera.
The city, which dates back to the Early Bronze Age (the end of the 4th century BCE), was surrounded by walls and included residential and public areas, streets and alleyways. It had an area of 650 dunams (.25 miles) and was home to an estimated 6,000 residents.
The Bronze Age metropolis was constructed on the remains of an even earlier city that dates back 7,000 years to the Chalcolithic Period. Two natural springs located nearby apparently served as the impetus to build planned communities on the site.
Some 5,000 teens and volunteers took part in the excavation under the auspices of an IAA project designed to instill an emotional connection to Israel's ancient heritage and a sense of belonging in the younger generations, as well as awareness of the importance of archaeological preservation.
IAA archaeologists Itai Elad, Dr. Yitzhak Paz, and Dr. Dina Shalem, who directed the dig, said there was "no doubt" that the findings would dramatically change what researchers knew about the Early Bronze Age and the beginnings of urbanization in the Land of Israel.
"This was an exciting time in the history of the land, which was then Canaan, and whose populations underwent changes that changed the face of entirely. The rural population gave way to a complex society, most of whom lived in urban settings," the archaeologists said.