Talk about an antique. Researchers say they have discovered the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East. The copper awl, discovered at the Tel Tsaf excavation site near Israel's border with Jordan, dates back to late 6th or early 5th century B.C. It's not exactly something that would catch your eye. The awl — a sharp object usually meant for poking small holes in leather or wood — measures only 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) long, according to a study in the journal PLOS One. It was set in a wooden handle and found in the sealed tomb of a woman who was around 40 years old when she died, along with a belt made with 1,668 ostrich eggshell beads. The discovery pushes back by several hundred years the date it was previously thought that people in the region began to use metals, Israeli researchers said.
- Keith Wagstaff