Modern humans (Homo sapiens) emerged on the African continent 300–200 thousand years ago. During this same time, the Neanderthals emerged in Europe. They met for the first time in the Levant during the Middle Paleolithic period.
What are the origins of modern humans? When did they first meet the Neanderthals? What was the interaction between them?
These are some of the most exciting questions in the study of human evolution.
Tinshemet Cave is a newly excavated Middle Paleolithic cave in Israel that may hold the answer to these questions. Recent excavations have revealed a unique combination of finds including articulated human remains, flint tools, evidence for the use of fire, and other finds. During the 2017-–2019 excavation seasons, the remains of at least five Middle Paleolithic human individuals associated with rich archaeological assemblages were discovered at the cave. These discoveries reignite the debate on the timing and pattern of human dispersals and interactions in the Middle Paleolithic period.
The aim of our project is to gain new insights into human evolution by: determining what Homo species inhabited Tinshemet Cave; establishing a secure chronology for the site and the hominin remains; and characterizing the cultural and technological behavior and the subsistence strategies of the hominins that inhabited the cave.