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The oldest modern human remains were discovered in a cave near Rosh Ha'Ain

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have uncovered findings that indicate the presence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in the Land of Israel as early as 400 years ago

The oldest modern human teeth discovered in Kesem Cave. Photo: Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University
The oldest modern human teeth discovered in Kesem Cave. Photo: Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have uncovered findings that indicate the presence of modern man (Homo sapiens) in the Land of Israel as early as 400 years ago.

This is the earliest period in which evidence of the existence of modern man has been found so far in the world. The findings were discovered in Kesem Cave, a prehistoric site near Rosh Ha'Ain that was discovered in 2000 and are now being published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The researchers Prof. Avi Gofer and Dr. Ran Barkai from the Department of Archaeology, who are managing the excavation at Kesem Cave, and Prof. Israel Hershkovitz from the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at the Sklar School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with an international team of scientists, performed a morphological analysis on eight teeth of humans found in a magic cave.

From the very detailed morphological analysis of the teeth, which included CT scans and X-rays, it appears that the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of a modern human whose first findings were discovered until now in the world only 200 thousand years ago on the African continent. The teeth from Kesem Cave are very similar to the findings of a modern man in Israel, who was about 100 thousand years old, from Sehol Cave in Carmel and Kapza Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth.

Magic Cave dates back to the time period between 400 and 200 thousand years before our time and the archaeologists excavating it believe that its findings indicate significant changes in the behavior of ancient humans. This period of time constitutes a very significant phase in the history of mankind culturally and biologically, and the fact that modern human teeth were found indicates that these changes are probably also related to evolutionary changes that occurred in humans.

Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai pointed out that, finds that distinguish the culture of the inhabitants of Kesem Cave, such as the systematic and orderly production of blades from flint, regular use of fire, hunting models, butchering and dividing animal meat, mining of raw materials for chiseling tools Tzur from the depths of the ground and more, strengthen the hypothesis that this is indeed an innovative behavior that is ahead of its time and integrates well with the appearance of modern man.

According to the researchers, the discovery in Merat Kesem may change the perception, which has prevailed so far in the world of research, according to which modern man originated on the African continent.

In recent years, archaeological findings and human skeletons have been found in China and Spain that may challenge this concept, but the findings found now in Merat Kesem are incomparably distinct, and their early age undoubtedly constitutes an extraordinary archaeological discovery.

The excavations in Merat Kesem continue, and the diggers hope that more findings will be discovered that will allow them to confirm the findings of the research that was just published and to deepen the understanding of human evolution and especially the appearance of modern man.

More of the topic in Hayadan:

19 תגובות

  1. With all due respect, it is still far from an exact science!
    Conjectures upon conjectures and imaginings upon imaginings, in particular that there is no opportunity for those dead to explain their opinion on the matter...

  2. According to the table attached to the article, there is great variation between different individuals within the same subspecies. This variation brings quite a bit of overlap between the size of the teeth of a modern person and ancient Homo sapiens, so that distinguishing between them is only possible if you are lucky enough to find a modern person with relatively small teeth (or an archaic with relatively large teeth)

    In general, tooth size cannot be used as a good criterion for separating species. As we know, all types of dogs all belong to the same species (common wolf) and even to the same subspecies (house dog) and despite this they differ in the size of their teeth.

  3. Tel Aviv University's announcement is really unfortunate, being populist and false. She apparently relies on the article whose network characteristics are found in response 14, and perhaps it was written by students of the authors.
    Contrary to what is written in the message at the top of the page,
    "Researchers from Tel Aviv University revealed findings that indicate the presence of modern man (Homo Sapiens) in the Land of Israel already about 400 thousand years ago" - the article says that the same teeth that the authors believe - faith and not certainty - were found in the upper layers of the cave, which are less than 300 thousand years old .
    And this is only if the teeth are indeed of Homo sapiens, a claim that is questioned in the article itself.
    The most interesting thing that can be deduced from this article and others similar to it, is that if indeed the characteristics of the teeth can be used as a characteristic of a separate species, then we must see modern man as a new species, the result of an evolutionary process of ancient Homo sapiens.

  4. And again, thank you Yair
    In the article there is a comparative table of the size of the teeth of different Homo species.
    Modern humans have smaller teeth on average than archaic Homo sapiens.
    As Yair correctly pointed out, the findings in Merat Kesem indicate that these are not modern humans because the teeth are relatively large.
    Most of all I think this example can teach a salutary lesson about the difference between press releases and a scientific article

  5. The article was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology
    The printed article I am reading does not have a web address, the title of the article Middle Pleistocene Dental Remains From Qesem Cave (Israel can be found via

  6. Completions and corrections: Anyone interested in the evolution of man must have read the university's announcement with vigilance, not to mention excitement - finally the intelligent name brought evidence of the origin of all humans from the Jews.
    Unfortunately, the message does not include the main point.
    The original article does not say what we read in the message. The researchers were not able to unequivocally conclude with regard to any of the teeth that it belongs to a relevant Homo species, but only that the teeth from the upper layer show a stronger affinity to the Homo sapiens finds in Sahel/Kepza caves, than to the other species.
    Some teeth showed closeness to Neanderthals, others to Homo erectus including for example from China.
    In the concluding discussion, the researchers indicated three possible explanatory scenarios regarding the findings:
    1. The population that the Shira slept in the cave belongs to an archaic Homo species of Southwest Asia, and despite certain difficulties they believe that this population is close to the population of Sehol Kapza.
    2. Long-term development of a Neanderthal population in Western Asia, and the development of a local Neanderthal subspecies.
    3. More than a single gay species is represented in the cave examples.

  7. It is not clear to me from the article whether it is possible to determine from the teeth found whether they belong to a modern man (Homo Sapiens-Sapiens) or whether they may belong to archaic Sapiens species.

    If it is archaic species of Stephines, then the discovery is less significant because it is known about archaic species of species that were found outside of Africa and even in the Land of Israel. If it is Homo sapiens-sapiens then it is not clear to me how this fits with the DNA evidence that supports the out of Africa theory.

  8. a few questions:

    How does the theory of human origin outside of Africa explain the fact that the greatest genetic diversity is found in Africa?
    And it gets smaller and smaller as you move away from Africa?

    How does this fit with the mitochondrial DNA that indicates 200K years?
    To be honest, I don't understand this point. Is it certain that there was only one mother 200K ago. Is it with any probability? What about the male chromosome? What do the tests here show?

    I would appreciate answers if anyone understands and knows.
    Fascinating 🙂

  9. Is it true that what they believed until now is that the beginning of modern man is from about two hundred thousand years ago?
    Is it true that what the researchers claim here is that the beginning of modern man is earlier - perhaps even four hundred thousand years ago?
    If so then it should be the sensational innovation and the title - the modern man is older than what was thought until now!

  10. 6 Honorable, what bothers you that archaeological evidence is received in support of biological findings? There will be more proofs and contradictions. This is the scientific method to demand and investigate.
    By the way, the meaning of 400000 years is fundamentally different from 200000 years in the development of modern man. And the research will continue.

  11. Does anyone know where the cave is actually located?
    somewhere on the hills outskirts of the New Rosh Haain probably...

  12. Once again ado about nothing

    We already know according to mitochondrial DNA that man is +- 200 thousand years old
    This story was already signed and closed back in the eighties (it took 20 years to accept this "difficult" idea).

    Two years ago he even claimed that Adam Flores is a homo sapiens suffering from Leron syndrome,
    The claim was completely refuted:

  13. Were Adam and Eve created in the land of Israel known to us today or somewhere else?
    I'm interested to know...

  14. There is no doubt that this discovery challenges the theory of leaving Africa
    According to modern humans, they came out of Africa about a hundred thousand years ago.
    However, the theory that some catastrophic event completely wiped out all human populations outside of Africa can reconcile the findings.

    Recently it has been speculated that our ancestors mixed with Neanderthals and even with earlier populations.
    If so, it is also possible that there remained small human colonies outside of Africa that were assimilated into the stream of immigrants.

  15. Every archaeological discovery about the evolution of homosapiens puts a nail in the coffin of the creation stories.

  16. They forgot to mention that they also found a jar of Sahug and Jahanon near the teeth

  17. The ultra-Orthodox haven't yet complained about disturbing the rest of the graves?

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