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Prehistoric Scratchpad

Caves in Israel with some of the earliest humans skeletons found outside of Europe.


100 Million Years Ago[]

The mountain range was only flat land covered by a shallow sea. Dead sea creatures sank to the bottom, forming soft limestone.

10 Million Years Ago[]

1 Million Years Ago[]

In Between History[]

  • Homo Erectus lived at Tanur Cave 800,000 years ago.
  • Earliest human fire use at Tabun Cave is 350,000 years ago.
  • The earliest evidence of humans outside of Africa is on a cave here about 180,000 years ago. Levallois style tools were found at Misliya Cave here, which may have been a modern human innovation.
  • Neanderthals lived at Tabun Cave about 120,000 years ago.
  • The Skhul people lived about 115,000 years ago.

100,000 Years Ago[]

Humans and Neanderthals may have lived alongside each other in the Mount Caramel Caves, and may have interbred here.

In Between History[]

  • Modern humans lived in the nearby Qafzeh Cave about 92ka, the other Skhul-Qafzeh hominins.
  • First known humans outside of Africa and the Levant in Saudi Arabia at Al-Wusta 85-90KA.
  • 75,000 years ago, the climate in the Levant shifted in the Neanderthal's favor, with rapid glaciation leaving the region cooler and drier. The steppe-deserts advanced, and forests retreated.
  • Humans in the area were retreated or went extinct due to the colder climate, and Neanderthals came into it.
  • Another modern human wave came into the region around 60,000 years ago
  • Genetesists say modern humans got most of their Neanderthal DNA between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.
  • Humans lived in the nearby Manot Cave about 55,000 years ago, possibly the only times humans and Neanderthals lived side by side for extended periods of time. Possibly the source of the most recent major intermixing event.
  • Natufians inhabited these caves 13,000 years ago who used flower beds for burials and plants in rituals.

10,000 Years Ago[]

Later History[]

Modern History[]

  • In 1928, British who were building a port in Haifa found prehistoric tools at Tanur Cave.
  • Excavation begins at Es Skhul in 1928, releaving the first evidence of the Natufian culture.
  • Excavations began at Qafzeh cave in 1932
  • The cave was blown up by the British because of an arab rebellion.
  • Excavations renewed in 1965 and continued intermittently until 1979.
  • Unesco Heritage site declared in 2012


Carmel Caves Web Pages[]

Carmel Caves In the News[]

UNESCO Heritage Site Declared (Jun 2012)[]

Natufians Used Plants in Rituals (Jan 2014)[]

Controlled Fire in Caves (Dec 2014)[]

Manot Could Have Been Where Humans and Neanderthals Mixed (Feb 2015)[]

Neanderthals Replaced Skhul-Qafzeh Humans (May 2016)[]

Jawbone Suggests Exodus from Africa Almost 200,000 YA (Jan 2018)[]



These caves are situated on the western slopes of the Mount Carmel range, clustered adjacent to each other along the south side of the Nahal Me'arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley.

Sites Within Mountains and UNESCO Site:

  • Tabun Cave - contains the first Neanderthal known outside of Europe and the earliest known controlled fire use
  • Es Skhul Cave
  • Jamal Cave
  • el-Wad Cave
  • Misliya Cave - contains the oldest human remains known outside of africa (177-194 ka)
  • Tanur Cave - the oldest, most westerly, and first discovered cave.
  • Raqefet - Natufian cave

Nearby Caves

  • Manot Cave
  • Qafzeh cave

Virtual Tourism[]

Related Pages[]