Nahal me‘arot caves: Archive of human evolution against the background of prolonged karstic processes

Amos Frumkin, Mina Weinstein-Evron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nahal Me‘arot Caves (Wadi el-Mughara) have been the subject of multi-disciplinary research since the late 1920s. The importance of the site’s four caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad and Skhul) lies in their long cultural sequence which incorporates at least 600,000 years of human evolution (from the Lower Paleolithic to the present), paleo-environmental fluctuations and the unique presence of both Neanderthals and early modern humans within the same caves. The site witnessed important cultural revolutions, particularly the Middle Paleolithic burials of both Neanderthals and early modern humans (the earliest in the world to date), and the passage from nomadic hunter-gatherers to complex, sedentary agricultural societies. The caves constitute an important World Heritage Site of human cultural and biological evolution within the background of paleoecological changes, the recent history of cave use and the history of archaeological, paleoenvironmental and paleontological research. The Nahal Me‘arot cliff had undergone major changes over the years, as a result of slope retreat processes, exposure of the cave voids, destruc-tion of cave chambers, and ceiling collapse, rendering it its present-day configuration. These must have impacted human use of the caves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-300
Number of pages18
JournalZeitschrift fur Geomorphologie
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Gebrüder Borntraeger Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.


  • Chamber cave
  • Early modern humans
  • El-Wad
  • Isolated cave
  • Jamal
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Mount Carmel caves
  • Natufian
  • Neanderthal
  • Phreatic cave morphology
  • Skhul
  • Tabun
  • World Heritage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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