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Archeologists work against clock to excavate ancient cemetery

dig January 1, 1998
Web posted at: 11:28 p.m. EST (0428 GMT)

TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Archeologists are working against the clock to remove artifacts from an ancient Canaanite cemetery south of Tel Aviv.

More than 600 well-preserved skeletons have been found at the site, including a woman with a child in her arms, buried together some 4,000 years ago. In accordance with practices at the time, the dead were buried with artifacts -- scarabs on their fingers, food-filled urns, jewelry, weapons and animals such as dogs, cats and sheep.

But the area where the cemetery is located is in the midst of a housing settlement under construction. In two weeks, bulldozers are scheduled to arrive to build a road through the site.

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  • This is an ever present problem in Israel -- an ancient land with a vast history that is also a tiny country with a growing population that it must accommodate.

    Around the year 2000 B.C., during the Bronze Age, the Canaanites populated the area that makes up today's Israel. They are considered by both the Israelis and Palestinians as their forefathers.

    While the cemetery is a tremendous archeological find, the experts excavating the site are baffled by the fact that they have not yet found the city where the Canaanites lived. Based on the size of the cemetery, the city had to be of large proportions.

    They vow to continue searching for the ruins of the city.

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