Archaeologists believe they have unearthed one of Egypt’s oldest-known settlements in the Nile Delta, dating back some 7,000 years to the Neolithic era.
The country’s ministry of antiquities announced the discovery of a village in the Tell el-Samara area of the Dakahlia governorate, north of Cairo, in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday.
A joint team of Egyptian and French archaeologists say they located several storage silos where organic matter — such as animal bones and plant remains — were recovered in addition to fragments of pottery and stone tools.
These findings allowed the expedition to date the village to around 5,000 BC, which would mean it was established approximately 2,500 years before work began on the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of Egypt’s oldest and most famous structures.
Expedition leader Frederik Geo said in the ministry statement that excavations at the site had been ongoing since 2015 and the discovery would allow experts to learn more about the communities that “were living in the Delta for thousands of years before the First Dynasty (the period of unifying the North and the South by King Mina and the beginning of Egyptian History).”
Archaeologists will continue to excavate the village site next season and hope analysis of the organic material found will shed light on the origins of farming and agriculture in Egypt.
Earlier this year, Egyptian archaeologists made headlines around the globe when they unearthed a huge, undisturbed granite sarcophagus, thought by some to be the largest ever found in Alexandria.
Egypt has faced years of instability since the 2011 Arab Spring and tourism, which once contributed more than 11% of the country’s GDP, has struggled in the years since.
But the country is banking on its cultural heritage to once again boost visitor numbers with the opening of the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum later this year. The mammoth 5.2-million-square-foot structure has cost more than $1 billion to construct and will become the world’s largest devoted to a single civilization.