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Nahal Me'arot Nature Reserve
Nahal Me'arot Nature Reserve Review
The prehistoric Carmel Caves, recognized in 2012 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a highlight of the Nahal Me'arot Nature Reserve, 3 km (2 miles) south of Ein Hod. They form a key site for the study of human evolution in general and the prehistory of the Levant in particular.
The three excavated caves are up a steep flight of stairs, on a fossil reef that was covered by the sea 100 million years ago. The first discoveries of prehistoric remains were made when this area was being scoured for stones to build the Haifa port. In the late 1920s, Dorothy Garrod of England headed the first archaeological expedition, receiving assistance from a British feminist group on condition that exclusively women carry out the dig.
In the Tannur cave, the first on the tour, the strata Garrod's team excavated are clearly marked, spanning about 150,000 years in the life of early humans. The most exciting discovery made in the area was that of both Homo sapiens and Neanderthal skeletons; evidence that both lived here has raised fascinating questions about the relationship between the two and whether they lived side by side. A display on the daily life of early man as hunter and food gatherer occupies the Gamal cave. The last cave you'll visit, called the Nahal, is the largest—it cuts deep into the mountain—and was actually the first discovered. A burial place with 84 skeletons was found outside the mouth of the cave.
The bone artifacts and stone tools discovered in the Nahal cave suggest that people who settled here, about 12,000 years ago, were the forebears of early farmers, with a social structure more developed than that of hunters and gatherers. There is also evidence that the Crusaders once used the cave to guard the coastal road. There's a snack bar at this site.
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