News / Middle East

    Centuries-Old Cave Reveals Secrets of Ancient Humans

    Tools and teeth found in Israel could be oldest ever discovered

    Israeli archeologists are piecing together the history of the people who lived in Qesem Cave between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago.
    Israeli archeologists are piecing together the history of the people who lived in Qesem Cave between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    Israeli archeologists have discovered ancient artifacts in a cave outside of Tel Aviv that could shed new light on the theory of human origins. Tel Aviv University archeologist Ran Barkai says what his team has excavated at Qesem Cave show a much more advanced people than the accepted image of our Stone Age ancestors in the Middle Paleolithic period.

    These early hominids hunted for food, cooked meat over fires and crafted a sophisticated array of flint tools.

    "We know that they had a set of different knives, almost like a modern butcher, that they used in the cave in order to cut the meat and eat it. And, we even have what we call Paleolithic cutlery. We have very small knives that we suggest were used while eating," Barkai says, adding that the tools are all remarkably well preserved. "They look like new, like they were made yesterday."

    The archeologists also found human teeth in different strata in the cave. Barkai says scholars and dental anthropologists from Europe and the United States joined the Israelis to analyze the dental samples.

    "It was clear from the comparison that the human teeth from Qesem Cave resembled most of the teeth of homo sapiens that lived in Israel much later, at an age of 100,000 years before present, at two caves, one in the Galilee and one in the Carmel."

    According to a widely accepted scientific theory, modern humans emerged from Africa around 200,000 years ago. Barkai says the teeth in Qesem Cave would predate those early human migrants. "We think that we are right. It is still only eight teeth or 10 teeth. So we need more evidence. It might imply that during this phase, maybe even a new hominid was living and this is another link or piece of the chain leading to modern humans."

    According to New York University paleo-dental anthropologist Shara Bailey, it may also represent another step in the evolution of man’s ancient human relatives, the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia around 200,000 years ago.

    These molars were found in Qesem Cave.
    These molars were found in Qesem Cave.

    "My take on it is that these teeth are quite primitive. There is nothing in the morphology of these teeth that looks like homo-sapiens at all," says Bailey. "In fact it looks primitive and if anything it looks a little bit Neanderthal like."

    In a recent article in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Barkai and his team suggest three theories: the Qesem teeth could belong to earlier humans or homo sapiens that developed independently from those in Africa and Europe. They could, as Shara Bailey suggests, represent an evolving Neanderthal in Southwest Asia. Or they could be from unknown extinct hominid species.

    But Bailey says whether the residents of Qesem Cave were like us or not, does not make the discoveries any less important. "Any new material that we find, especially from this poorly documented time period 200,000 to 400,000 years ago, is great and necessary for our ongoing interpretation of human evolution and Neanderthal evolution."

    Israeli archeologist Barkai expects Qesem Cave will continue to yield magical artifacts. He and his team from Tel Aviv University hope to find bones to add to the story of our ancient ancestors.

     

    New York University paleo-dental anthropologist Shara Bailey explains what can be learned from the teeth of our ancient ancestors.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora