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Excavations have revealed Middle Paleolithic human remains that will deepen our understanding of human evolution.
After just four seasons of excavation, Tinshemet Cave has yielded the largest Middle Paleolithic anthropological assemblage excavated in the Near East during the last few decades. Among the human remains, a fully articulated skeleton was discovered in breccia on the terrace in front of the cave, and a child's partially articulated skeleton was found in the first chamber. The anthropological assemblage also contains two skulls along with several isolated teeth, which were found in different parts of the cave. Human remains are still under excavation.
The Tinshemet fossils, not yet taxonomically identified, might represent a population of H. sapiens, Neanderthals, or other late Middle/early Late Pleistocene hominins.
The lithic artifacts dicovered during the excavations are corrolated to the Levantine Middle Paleolithic techno-complex.
The large lithic assemblage is characterized by use of the Levallois reduction system, notably the centripetal method, for the production of flakes. The large amount of "waste" elements (ie. cortical flakes and core triming elements and cores) suggest that knapping occured on-site. The site inhabitants' mostly used the local Mishash flint.
The presence of ochre and special stones (ie. basalt) brought from distant sources suggests that the cave inhabitants' might have engaged a complex symbolic and social behavior.
Various ancient animal species were found during excavations.
Faunal remains represent an array of local Middle Paleolithic species, possibly showing greater emphasis on large-bodied game. The remains are dominated by aurochs (Bos primigenius), Mesopotamian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica), mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella) and equids. Humans were the primary accumulation agents.
Tinshemet Cave was first surveyed by Moshe Stekelis in the 1940s. Excavations at the site were launched in 2016. During the excavations the Middle Paleolithic layers were found on the terrace and in the first chamber of the cave.
The Middle Paleolithic deposits are characterized by highly cemented sediments (breccia), which does not allow us to use conventional excavation techniques commonly employed in prehistoric excavations. Currently we are employing a variety of methodologies and excavation tools, as the use of traditional chisel and hammers, electric hammers, and air pressure tools.
Due to the unique nature of the site, some of the material has been cut out in large blocks from the breccia, relocated, and excavation has continued in the laboratory, under the close supervision of our staff. In the photo you can see a human skeleton under excavation in the laboratory.
Dating The Site
Various radiometric dating methods, such as Thermoluminescence, Optically Stimulated Luminescence, and U-Series are being used to date the site.