An ancient Neanderthal settlement was discovered at a site in northern Israel called Ein Qashish which dates back to the Middle Paleolithic period and lasted up until around 54,000 years ago. While Neanderthals have been linked to caves, this new discovery of the settlement indicates that they also lived in non-cave areas.
Researchers found several skeletal remains as well as more than 12,000 artifacts from the newly discovered settlement. These findings prove that Neanderthals lived there between 71,000 and 54,000 years ago, according to a team of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The researchers used isotope analysis in order to determine how old the artifacts were and they discovered that they were from four different time periods. Since the animal bones and tools were modified, it shows that they used flinting tools and ate the animals while they were at the site.
It was previously believed that Neanderthals only used open-air settlements for short amounts of time for specific reasons, but since four different time frames were determined by the examination of the artifacts, it proves that they used the settlement on a more permanent basis.
“Ein Qashish is a 70-60 thousand years open-air site, with a series of stratified human occupations in a dynamic flood plain environment,” said Dr. Ravid Ekshtain who led the study. This discovery also raises questions in regards to the disappearance of Neanderthals, as well as their interactions with contemporaneous modern humans.
For the past 20 years, archaeologists have been excavating Neanderthal remains and artifacts in the northern part of Israel over a 1,200-square-kilometer area. In 2013, prior to a road being built at the location close to the Kishon River, the team from the Hebrew University were called in and they excavated around 670 square meters. That’s when they found the bones and artifacts that indicated Neanderthals once lived at Ein Qashish.
The study of Neanderthals is so fascinating, not only because they’re our ancient human ancestors, but that they mysterious died out approximately 50,000 years ago after living in a variety of different environments across Europe and Asia for hundreds of thousands of years. With this new discovery of an open-air settlement, we can now learn more about out ancient ancestors and how they lived so many years ago.