Archaeologists have found a collection of beads, flint and 7000-year-old ostrich drawings at Tzipori that shed new light on the life of the upper class in the Stone Age.

The collection was revealed by researchers of the Israel Antiques Authority during excavations at the site in the north of the country. During the dig, carried out in cooperation with the Israel National Roads Company, while expanding route 79, a 2000-dunam prehistoric settlement was discovered.

Researchers believe it is the largest site identified with "Wadi Raba Culture."

This culture, named after the site where it was first discovered, was active in the 5th and 6th millennias B.C.E. The objects found in Tzipori reveal it had distinct social classes - including a rich elite - and that the residents had ties with other cultures thousands of kilometers away.

Colorfully engraved earthenware, typical of the culture, were discovered. Among the engravings one can identify two schematically sketched ostriches. The researchers believe these are influenced by Syrian and Mesopotamia cultures.

"The fact that such objects reached Ein Tzipori means that at the time there evolved a social system that included an elite that consumed luxury products imported from distant countries," says Yaniv Milevski, who led the excavations together with Nimrod Getzov. Another finding reveals more of the residents' overseas connections at the time. Among the flint discovered are also axes and sickle blades, some made of Obsidian rock, a volcanic rock whose closest origin is Turkey.