Giant elephant tusk discovered in southern Israel

An ancient elephant tusk dating to around half a million years ago was uncovered, completely unscathed, by archaeologists in kibbutz Revadim in Israel’s South, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Wednesday.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday that the 2.5-meter (yard) long fossil belonging to the long-extinct straight-tusked elephant was found during a joint excavation with researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University.

The two-and-a-half meter tusk is said to have belonged to the straight-tusked elephant, an extinct species that roamed modern-day Israel during the Middle and Late Pleistocene period.

Israel Antiquities Authority prehistorian Avi Levy, who headed the dig, said it was “the largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.”

The site was dated to the late lower paleolithic period, around 500,000 years ago, based on stone tools found in the vicinity, the antiquities authority said.

Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist, said the find was “very puzzling, very enigmatic” because it was not clear whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or whether they brought the felled animal’s tusk to this spot.