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New research in Manot Cave, a key archaeological site to study the first human populations in Eurasia

José Miguel Tejero during the research with material from Manote Cave.

José Miguel Tejero during the research with material from Manote Cave.

Image of the archaeological site.

Image of the archaeological site.



The Palaeolithic archaeological site of Manot Cave, in Western Galilee (Israel), is known for the findings of a cranium, the oldest remains of the homo sapiens that colonized the documented Europe outside Africa so far. Located in a key area to study the arrival of the modern human beings in Europe, who came from Africa, this cave has kept intact many remains of the upper Palaeolithic period.  Now, an article published in Science Advances and signed by –among others- the researcher from the Seminar on Prehistoric Studies of the University of Barcelona (SERP-UB) José-Miguel Tejero, focuses on the study of this archaeological site of the Near East.

This research shows a chronostratigraphy of the Manot Cave using data obtained with the newest techniques. This dating task is particularly important because it provides data on the movements of human populations in the Upper Palaeolithic who arrived to Eurasia coming from Africa, crossing the area called Levant (an area from the Near East basically covering Syria, Lebanon, Israel, areas from Palestine and Jordan). In particular, the dating of the remains of the Manot Cave provides information on two archaeological cultures:  the Early Ahmarian and the Levant Aurignacian. The article would strengthen the hypothesis that says individuals of the Early Ahmarian (which this research study dates from between 46,000 and 42,000 ago) were the precursors of the Proto-Aurignacian culture which was later developed in Europe. Also, data suggests that populations from the European Aurignacian returned to the Near East and gave place to the Levant Aurignacian (dated between 38,000 and 34,000 years ago).

The research study in Manot Cave has been conducted with carbon-14 dating together with geoarchaeological analysis and the found tools, made with stone and bone material. Tejero says that “in order to avoid pollution, one of the biggest problems when working with old chronologies, almost at the limit of carbon dating, they applied a protocol with several kinds of pre-treatments to get a higher cleansing of the pieces”. The researcher notes that the richness of the paleolithic material of Manot Cave, including excellent preserved bone remains, allows them to apply new pioneering techniques in the archaeological work.  In the published study, Tejero analysed, with the team of archaeozoologists, the tools of this site -made with organic materials from animals, such as bodkins and projectiles used to hunt, which were made with bones and horns respectively. The study of the techniques that were used by the paleolithic communities when making those tools has contributed to assessing the dating and evolution of the studied prehistoric cultures.

The study, with its first signer being Dr Bridget Alex from Harvard University, gathers researchers from several Israeli and European universities and entities. Dr Tejero is featured as researcher from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the SERP, led by UB Professor Josep Maria Fullola.

Bridget Alex, Omry Barzilai, Israel Hershkovitz, Ofer Marder, Francesco Berna, Valentina Caracuta, Talia Abulafia, Lauren Davis, Mae Goder-Goldberger, Ron Lavi, Eugenia Mintz, Lior Regev, Daniella Bar-Yosef Mayer, José-Miguel Tejero, Reuven Yeshurun, Avner Ayalon, Mira Bar-Matthews, Gal Yasur, Amos Frumkin, Bruce Latimer, Mark G. Hans, Elisabetta Boaretto: «Radiocarbon chronology of Manot Cave, Israel and Upper Paleolithic dispersals». Science Advances, 15 November 2017. Doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1701450


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