-250000 bce the Carmel Caves Research Authority for Defense:
Did prehistoric man come from Haifa?
By Fadi Eyadat from Haaretz 06/09/2007
The audience, the stage and the set are ready. Only the guest of honor is missing - "and everyone is
waiting for him," says Prof. Mina Evron, a researcher in the Archaeology Department of the
University of Haifa and the codirector of excavations at Misliya Cave, southwest of Mt. Carmel.
The 'guest' that she and a team of researchers are seeking in the cave area is a skeleton that could
represent early humans.
"We have found everything here: large quantities of the tools they used, hand-held stone tools and
blades, animal bones. We know how man behaved during that period," says Evron. "All we are
missing is the skeleton."
The artifacts found in the area of the cave are indicative of behavior patterns of humans who lived
about 250,000 years ago, at the time of the Mousterian culture of Neanderthals in Europe.
So far studies have shown the tools of modern man in a much later period, about 170,000 years ago,
in Ethiopia. The new findings are of great importance, connecting the earliest modern man to the
Carmel Mountains man.
About 2 million years ago, with the movement of Homo erectus ("upright man") to Europe,
Neanderthal man, a new species, developed. Prof. Israel Hershkovitz, of the Department of Anatomy
and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University and a codirector of the excavations, says Neanderthals were
stockier than modern man, with a larger skull and more massive limbs. Another species that
developed from Homo erectus from Africa was Homo sapiens ("thinking man") or us. His skull and
other physical dimensions were smaller and finer than those of Neanderthal man.
Back in 2001 two teams of doctoral students in anthropology from Tel Aviv University and
archaeology doctoral students from the University of Haifa began excavating the Carmel caves. The
dig revealed that even in the layers from 250,000 years ago, there were modern tools for cutting and
hunting, such as blades made from flint. Archaeologist Yossi Zaidner says the blades indicate a
modern technique of making blades, which including planning and design.
"We found 3,000 items per square meter," says Zaidner. "This is a huge quantity. We found all the
technological innovations of that period, 250,000 years ago, and this means there was extensive
settlement of the site, and it was a center to which people came from the whole region."
Animal bones were also found, which the researchers view as the household trash of the residents.
"All the signs indicate that there was systematic hunting here, using modern techniques that
continued to be used up until 10,000 years ago," says Reuven Yeshurun, one of the archaeologists at
the site. "There were knife marks on the bones, and scorch marks, but no teeth marks, so we reckon
there were men here. Everything points to hunting patterns like those of later prehistoric society and
of societies today."
Professor Hershkovitz says first Homo sapiens who developed in Africa were stockier than modern
man. "Still," says Hershkovitz, "it is possible that the final development of Homo sapiens happened
here, in Israel, outside Africa. If a modern Homo sapiens is found in the layers from 250,000 years
ago, he will belong to one of the earliest Homo sapiens population in the world, and possibly the
earliest. Then all the theories of the development of modern man will have to be reexamined."
-125000 to -40000 bce the department of Grotto Planning at Neandertechnion
The Carmel Caves: Dwellings of Prehistoric Man
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' site
The caves are located on the western slopes of Mt. Carmel, some 20 km. south of Haifa, where
Nahal Mearot (Valley of the Caves) emerges into the Coastal Plain. They were first excavated in the
1920s and 1930s. Then new digs were conducted from the late 1960s onwards, using advanced
scientific methods based on modern geological, archeological and palynological (paleontological
study of pollen, fossils, etc.) research.
Flint tools, animal bones and human burials found in the Carmel Caves contribute greatly to the
understanding of the physical and cultural evolution of man in the early phases of his existence.
The Tabun Cave (Cave of the Oven)
The Tabun Cave was occupied intermittently during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic ages (half a
million to some 40,000 years ago). In the course of this extremely long period of time, deposits of
sand, silt and clay of up to 25 m. accumulated in the cave. Excavation proved that it has one of the
longest sequences of human occupation in the Levant.
The earliest deposits contain large amounts of sea sand. This, and pollen traces found, suggest a
relatively warm climate. The melting glaciers which covered large parts of the globe caused the sea
level to rise and the Mediterranean coastline to recede. The Coastal Plain was narrower than it is
today, and was covered with savannah vegetation. The cave dwellers used handaxes of flint or
limestone for killing animals (gazelle, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and wild cattle which roamed the
Coastal Plain) and for digging out plant roots. The tools improved slowly over a period of tens of
thousands of years. The handaxes became smaller and better shaped and scrapers, made of thick
flakes chipped off flint cores, were probably used for scraping meat off bones and for processing
The upper levels in the Tabun Cave consist mainly of clay and silt, indicating that a colder, more
humid climate prevailed when glaciers formed once more; this caused the Mediterranean Sea level
to drop some 100 m., to its present level. It also produced a wider coastal strip, covered by dense
forests and swamps.
The material remains from the upper strata in the Tabun Cave are of the Mousterian culture (about
200,000 45,000 years ago). Small flint tools, made of thin flakes, predominate here, many produced
by the Levallois technique: a method of carefully trimming the flint core before the desired shape of
the flake is struck off. Tools typical of this culture are elongated points, flakes of various shapes
used as scrapers, end scrapers and many denticulate tools used for cutting and sawing.
The diet of the people who manufactured and used these tools consisted of fruit, seeds, roots and
leaves with a supplement of meat gazelle, fallow deer, roe deer, and wild boar. The large number of
bones of fallow deer found in the upper layers of the Tabun Cave may be due to the chimney-like
opening in the back of the cave which functioned as a natural trap. The animals were probably
herded towards it and fell into the cave where they were butchered.
The Tabun Cave contains a Neanderthal-type burial of a female, dated to about 120,000 years ago.
It is one of the most ancient human skeletal remains found in Israel.
The Skhul Cave (Cave of the Kids)
Numerous human burials dated to approximately the same time were found in this nearby cave.
Fourteen skeletons were uncovered, including three complete ones; they were defined as an archaic
type of Homo sapiens, closely related to modern humans in physical appearance. It is believed that
this human, with delicate facial features, a protruding chin and straight forehead, was fully
developed around 100,000 years ago. The finds from these graves also show evidence of cult and
rituals related to death and the spiritual realm.
The finds in the cave are of major importance to anthropological prehistoric research of the
development of the human species. The theory that Homo sapiens did not develop from Neanderthal
man, but that both lived contemporaneously, is becoming increasingly accepted: Neanderthal man
became extinct while Homo sapiens developed into the modern human race.
The El-Wad Cave (Cave of the Valley)
This is the largest of the Mt. Carmel caves. The accumulated layers provide evidence of human
presence from the end of the occupation of the Tabun Cave (approximately 45,000 years ago).
Important finds from this cave are of the Natufian culture (10,500 to 8,500 BCE), a highly
developed culture relative to those preceding it. It signals the transition from the Palaeolithic to the
Neolithic cultures, from plant-gathering and animal-hunting to plant-growing and
animal-domestication. During this period, the level of the Mediterranean Sea rose again, as the
glacial period came to an end, and the coastline stabilized, to roughly its present contours. The
Coastal Plain became narrower and was covered by sparse forest and grasslands, with swamps in
low-lying areas. The number of animal species had declined and consisted mainly of gazelles and
The population of the El-Wad cave used both the cave and the broad terrace in front of it. The
settlement is believed to have been permanent, a unique development in terms of previous lifestyles
in the caves. It consisted of a few families living in a tent-village which served as the base for
hunting expeditions and food gathering.
The Natufian flint tools are of very high quality and delicacy, very small and carefully retouched.
These microliths were primarily scrapers for treating animal skins, points for wood- and
bone-working, awls for piercing stones used as fishing weights, skins and decorative beads, blades
for cutting meat and sawing bone and sickle blades (secured in wooden or bone scythes) for
harvesting grain (which left a characteristic gloss on the edge of the blades). There were also
microliths of lunate shape, used as arrowheads, for harpoons and as fish hooks and larger tools
made of rough chunks of flint for cracking bones and hard-shelled seeds. Grinding tools, mortars
and pestles made of stone, were used for food processing.
On the terrace in front of the cave, more then one hundred individual human burials were
excavated. The dead were buried in a tightly flexed position, some with ornaments made of stone,
bone or dentalia shell. The large number of skeletons provided anthropologists with the opportunity
to study the physical characteristics of this Natufian population. The average height was between
1.58 and 1.65 m., the heads relatively large with wide and rather low foreheads, characteristics
typical of populations of this period in the eastern Mediteranean Basin.
The El-Wad cave is now open to the public and visitors may appraise the many prehistoric finds and
their place in the development of the human race.
The Tabun cave was excavated (1969-71) by A.J. Jellinek of the University of Arizona and since
1971 under the direction of A. Ronen of Haifa University.
The El-Wad cave was excavated by F. Falla of the French Archeological Mission in Jerusalem and
by O. Bar Yosef of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1980-81), and since 1980 by M.
Weinstein-Evron on behalf of Haifa University.
-3000 bce, the Department for Improvement of Yields of Milk and Honey ,
Archeologists find 3,000-year-old beehives in ancient city's ruins in N. Israel
By The Associated Press
Archeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping
industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest
intact beehives ever found.
The findings in the ruins of the city of Rehov include 30 intact hives dating to around 900 B.C.E.,
archaeologist Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told The Associated Press. He
sad it offers unique evidence that an advanced honey industry existed in the Holy Land at the time
of the Bible.
Beekeeping was widely practiced in the ancient world, where honey used for medicinal and
religious purposes as well as for food, and beeswax was used to make molds for metal and to create
surfaces to write on. While portrayals of bees and beekeeping are known in ancient artwork,
nothing similar to the Rehov hives has ever been found before, Mazar said.
The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, have a hole at one end to allow the bees in and out
and a lid on the other end to allow beekeepers access to the honeycombs inside. They were found in
orderly rows, three high, in a room that could have accommodated around 100 hives, Mazar said.
The Bible repeatedly refers to Israel as a land of milk and honey, but that's believed to refer to
honey made from dates and figs - there is no mention of honeybee cultivation. But the new find
shows that the Holy Land was home to a highly developed beekeeping industry nearly 3,000 years
"You can tell that this was an organized industry, part of an organized economy, in an
ultra-organized city," Mazar said.
At the time the beehives were in use, Mazar believes Rehov had around 2,000 residents, a mix of
Israelites, Canaanites and others.
Ezra Marcus, an expert on the ancient Mediterranean world at Haifa University, said the finding
was a unique glimpse into ancient beekeeping. Marcus was not involved in the Rehov excavation.
"We have seen depictions of beekeeping in texts and ancient art from the Near East, but this is the
first time we've been able to actually feel and see the industry," Marcus said.
The finding is especially unique, Marcus said, because of its location in the middle of a thriving city
- a strange place for thousands of bees.
"This might have been because the city's ruler wanted the industry under his control," Marcus said,
or because the beekeeping industry was linked to residents' religious practices, as might be indicated
by an altar decorated with fertility figurines that archaeologists found alongside the hives.
Homo Sapiens in Haifa
The land of milk and honey, 3000 years old bee hives
The 200,000-year-old barbecue
By Ran Shapira
From Haaretz, 03/01/2008
According to University of Haifa researchers, these activities show that as early as the middle period
of the Early Stone Age - about a quarter of a million years ago - people with modern hunting
capabilities lived in the Carmel region.
The ability to hunt large animals, choose the most suitable cuts of meat for consumption and grill
them is behavior that serves to differentiate between Homo sapiens and earlier forms of human life.
It is possible that one of the most ancient testimonies to the existence of a human population with
modern behavior patterns has been found in the Misliya caves of the Carmel. Researchers Reuven
Yeshurun, Dr. Guy Bar-Oz and Prof. Mina Evron, from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the
University of Haifa, reached this conclusion after a detailed examination of the remnants of animal
bones found at a dig held on site.
The Misliya cave is situated in the western slopes of the Carmel, some 12 kilometers south of Haifa
and 90 meters above sea level. About seven kilometers south of it, near Nahal Hama'arot, a large
number of remnants of human activity from the Stone Age have been uncovered at the Tanur cave,
the Gedi cave and the Nahal cave.
Since 2001, a team headed by Evron and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the department of Anatomy
and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University has been excavating at the Misliya cave. The team's work is
being financed by the Dan David Foundation, the Leakey Foundation and the Irene Levi-Sala Care
The remains found at the Misliya cave include numerous flint tools such as knives, scraping
instruments, sharp points and tools for working with meat.
All the flint tools belong to the material culture that was prevalent in the region in the middle of the
Early Stone Age. Also found at Misliya were a number of sites where fires had been lit, around
which there were numerous indications of meat having been grilled. The cave covered a large area
and its size can be estimated today with the help of the sediment and fossilized earth.
Several layers of rock avalanches offer proof that, at some stage, the cave's roof, and some of its
walls, collapsed. Remains of human activity were found on three steps in the cave. All the animal
bones that were examined by Yeshurun and Bar-Oz, both experts in archaeology and zoology, were
found on the top step of the cave.
According to the remnants unearthed, researchers identified the types of animals and cuts the
ancient cave dwellers ate, as well as the age of the animals that had been hunted. They also
conducted microscopic examinations of the marks on the bones. A detailed examination of this kind
makes it possible to find out how exactly the animals had been killed, who ate their meat and how it
was prepared for consumption.
The findings were clear: Almost all the bones that were examined were those of the animals that
had been hunted by man, and it was clear that the cave dwellers preferred cuts that had plenty of
flesh on them, such as the thigh, while they left in the field parts of the animal's body, such as the
head and the hooves, which did not satisfy their hunger.
After slaughtering and cutting up the animals, the cave dwellers grilled cuts of meat on fires, many
remnants of which were found at the site. The researchers know that early Carmel humans grilled
his meat from the fact that very few burnt bones were found in the cave - but many burnt joints
Deep diagonal scratches on the bones' surface, some of which can only be seen under a microscope,
indicate cutting by flint knives to take meat off the bones after grilling. The long bones of the limbs
were cracked by stone hammers to get to the marrow, which apparently had extreme nutritional
importance for early humans.
The ancient palate
In an article which they published last month in the Journal of Human Evolution, Yeshurun,
Bar-Oz and Evron write that, after examining the bones and remains of the teeth that were found at
the site, they concluded that most of the animals that the cave dwellers ate were killed in their prime.
In addition to the fallow deer and the gazelle, which were the main sources of food for the Misliya
cave dwellers, remains were also found of wild cattle (a large animal weighing one ton, also the
ancestor of domesticated cattle), wild boars, wild goats, red deer, roe deer and even hyrax and
tortoises. Shells from ostrich eggs prove that the ancient palate found this delicacy tasty as well.
From the remains of the various species found in the cave, it is also possible to learn about the
fauna that grew in the area in those days. Three types of deer lived in the dense forests on the
mountain while the giant cattle roamed the open pastures.
Since they were skillful hunters, it is reasonable to assume that the humans who lived in the area
lived in sparse bands that were too scattered to be able to have a significant influence on the
population of wild animals.
According to the researchers, the cave dwellers' preference for adult animals belonging to species,
such as the fallow deer and the stags, and for certain organs (not to mention signs of cutting and
grilling meat) indicate behavior similar to modern hunters and collectors.
Less developed humans preferred to hunt smaller animals, to trap prey that happened to approach,
or to concentrate on the weaker members of a herd - the young, elderly or ill.
In contrast, the Misliya cave dwellers would systematically hunt the strongest large animals and
would carry the most nutritious, delectable body parts to the central living quarters so that they
could be cut and grilled on a fire and their bone marrow extracted for consumption.
The decision-making skills required for this kind of behavior ascribe to the cave dwellers advanced
patterns of human conduct. Evidence of such behavioral patterns has been found at other sites in
the Levant, but most of them dated to later periods.
Testimony to such modern behavior - dating back some 200,000 years - is compatible with the
hypothesis of Evron and Hershkowitz: This site is home to the most ancient remains of modern
man, i.e. Homo sapiens. Remains of this type - that is, human skeletons and bones - have not yet
been uncovered at Misliya and therefore the researchers do not yet know for certain what kind of
man left his food remnants in the cave.
At the same time, the patterns of hunting and the modern methods of processing the meat,
uncovered in the research , indicate that humans behaved in a modern way at least in this sphere,
regardless of which biological species they belonged to.
|Homo Picturiens et Homo Scribens
New excavations have recently allowed the discovery of primitive anthropomorphic frescoes on the
walls of the Carmel grottoes and on stones in the forest. These works of art have been done with
pigments and usual artifacts. Datation by thermoluminescence and study of C14 isotopes is in
progress. Il seems that there is a relation between the presence of these drawings and that of the
Microsoft society in the Carmel
On the Sykaminos site, next to the sea shore, arameic inscriptions (imperial aramaic alphabet)
engraved on stones have been found. Specialists can clearly read the letters
׳’ ׳’ ׳•׳• ׳’ ׳�׳�
which sounds like G G oo G L but the interpretation of such a word is still unclear
Fire at will’: The emergence of habitual fire use 350,000 years ago
Ron Shimelmitz, Steven L. Kuhn, Arthur J. Jelinek, Avraham Ronen, Amy E. Clark, Mina Weinstein-
The use of fire is central to human survival and to the processes of becoming human. The earliest
evidence for hominin use of fire dates to more than a million years ago. However, only when fire use
became a regular part of human behavioral adaptations could its benefits be fully realized and its
evolutionary consequences fully expressed. It remains an open question when the use of fire shifted
from occasional and opportunistic to habitual and planned. Understanding the time frame of this
'technological mutation' will help explain aspects of our anatomical evolution and encephalization
over the last million years. It will also provide an important perspective on hominin dispersals out of
Africa and the colonization of temperate environments, as well as the origins of social developments
such as the formation of provisioned base camps. Frequencies of burnt flints from a 16-m-deep
sequence of archaeological deposits at Tabun Cave, Israel, together with data from the broader
Levantine archaeological record, demonstrate that regular or habitual fire use developed in the region
between 350,000e320,000 years ago. While hominins may have used fire occasionally, perhaps
opportunistically, for some million years, we argue here that it only became a consistent element in
behavioral adaptations during the second part of the Middle Pleistocene.
Journal of Human Evolution 77 (2014) 196-203
Silex stones heated by fire