A large stalactite cave was found accidentally during development work connected with the construction of a sewage line in a western Galilee forest.

An announcement by the Israel Antiquities Authority said “an abundance of prehistoric artifacts were discovered.”

Workers digging for the sewage line in the Jewish National Fund forest knocked a hole in the cave, exposing it. Israel Antiquities Authority officials and members of Israel’s Center for Cave Exploration were immediately called and the Western Galilee Rescue Unit arrived as well.

“It seems that during the past 40-50 years no cave has been found with such a wealth of prehistoric finds and certainly not inside such a lovely stalactite cave,” said Dr. Ofer Marder, head of the Prehistory Branch of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who examined the cave.

Dr. Marder says that the cave includes a number of chambers – the largest measuring 60x80 meters (197x262 feet. “Inside it is a soil accumulation that contains numerous flint tools that were knapped by man and a variety of zoological remains of animals that are no longer present in our country’s landscape such as the red deer, fallow deer, buffalo and even the remains of bears.”

The statement, put out by the Israel Antiquities Authority, says the “initial impression of those who first examined the cave is that it seems to date to the Upper Paleolithic period. The Israel Antiquities Authority is inspecting the special finds that were discovered there and at a later stage a study will be required to examine the animal population, climate and geology of the region during the periods when the cave was being used. The cave will also be dated by means of advanced scientific methods that will provide researchers with an absolute chronological range.”

The cave has now been sealed and access to it is not possible, the statement said. Calls to the Jewish National Fund resulted in a request not to publish the name of the site, out of concern for its safety.