Giant prehistoric elephant tusk uncovered in southern Israel
Michael Horovitz, The Times of Israel
August 31, 2022
A complete tusk from a large prehistoric elephant was uncovered near
Kibbutz Revadim in southern Israel, archaeologists revealed on Wednesday.
The find was made earlier in August during a two-week excavation by Tel
Aviv University and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev called Operation
The 2.5-meter-long remnant of the huge straight-tusked elephant — which is
now extinct — was discovered by Dr. Eitan Mor, a biologist from Jerusalem,
who organized a trip to the area out of curiosity about the elephants,
according to an Israel Antiquities Authority statement.
“To my surprise, I spotted something that looked like a large animal bone
peeping out of the ground. When I looked closer, I realized that it was
‘the real thing,’ so I rushed to report it to the Israel Antiquities
Authority,” he said.
Scientists believe the elephant species, which would tower over their
present-day descendants, arrived on Israel’s coastal plain about 800,000
years ago and died out approximately half a million years ago. According to
the IAA, findings from elephants are rare and the fossil is “of great
The IAA explained that past archaeological work at Revadim, where stone and
flint tools and other fossilized remains have been discovered, revealed
that humans had settled the area and hunted the elephants that roamed the
The IAA’s director, Eli Skozido, noted that the find was of “primary
importance for the academic community, but also of great public interest.”
He added that the authority plans to publicly display the tusk after
conservation efforts at the IAA’s permanent exhibition hall in Jerusalem.
Prof. Israel Hershkovitz from the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and
Biohistory at Tel Aviv University said that the fossil, which was said to
be in very good condition, is also “extremely fragile” and efforts were
made to protect it after the initial find.
“Now we are excavating it within its archaeological context, before
transferring it to the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation
Laboratory, where it will be studied and conserved,” Hershkovitz said.
The discovery of the tusk leads to questions over its presence at Revadim,
according to Prof. Ofer Marder of Ben-Gurion University and Dr. Ianir
Milevski of the IAA’s Prehistoric Branch.
“Is the tusk the remains of a hunted elephant, or was it collected by the
local prehistoric inhabitants? Did the tusk have social or spiritual
significance?” the academics asked.
The IAA said the joint study aims to resolve the debates surrounding the
prehistoric elephant hunters and their culture.