The prehistoric Carmel Caves, recognized in 2012 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a highlight of this 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 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 the condition that only 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 were Homo sapiens and Neanderthal skeletons; evidence that 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 and largest cave, called the Nahal, cuts deep into the mountain and was the first discovered. A burial place with 84 skeletons was found outside the mouth of the cave along with stone tools, which 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.