Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Haifa Caves That Were Home for Neanderthals

Nadene Goldfoot
A group of 4 caves near Haifa on the western slope of Mount Carmel were found to be home for Neanderthals and early anatomically modern humans who lived there 15,000 years ago.  They lived side by side as part of the same culture.  We're going back when humans evolved over a period of 500,000 years.

The caves have evidence of burials, early stone architecture and show how man went from the hunter to the gatherer lifestyle and on to agriculture and animal raising.  They found remains of stone houses and pits which are evidence of a settlement.

It took 90 years of excavation of these sites to find all this evidence, so this must have started in about 1922.  They hope to find more information.  UNESCO says the site provides "an archive of early human life in southwest Asia."

This is now the 7th world Heritage Site in Israel, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It's called the Nahal Me'arot Nature Reserve.  This place provides a chronological framework when humans were developing.

Other sites are the Masada, the Old city of Akko and the White City of Tel Aviv.

Genetic studies show that modern Europeans have between 1% to  4 % of their genes from Neanderthals who died off 28,000 years ago.

Being Jewish and having the hobby of genealogy, one hits the stone wall  in trying to go back very far, and it's been hard to find information on my father's line, so I have resorted to dna testing.  Through 23& Me in California, I found out that my chromosomes showed that I had 2.9% of Neanderthal in my genes.  I was in the 93% tile of my other matches!  The average Eastern European only has 2.5%  Lucky me!  Through familytreedna in Houston, my brother was found to have the Q haplogroup of Ydna, Q1b1a to be specific or Q-L245, which looks like a mathematical equation of where we came from.  At first we were led to believe this origin was from the Khazarian Empire, which lies close to Russia.  Now with further testing, findings are showing that some of our group have the marker to be from somewhere close to Ur, which lies in today's Iraq. It's where our forefather, Abraham came from.   I'm getting closer to those caves!

There are other famous caves with remains of Neanderthal man.  One such cave is the Shanidar Cave in Iraq, of all places.  Shanidar is the name of the elder male found there.  Other caves of famous note are the La Ferrassie Caves in SW France and a cave in northern Spain, El Castillo, which goes back more than  40,800 years with a painting showing hands, and the hands must be handprints and they look exactly like ours today.  It is the oldest ever found.

Being there are many caves scattered about the world that contained Neanderthals, I'm wondering if my friend, a geneticist PhD  isn't right in his theory that man came from several sources and wasn't just from one single man.  That brings up even more questions, like how did that happen?

I can't declare that these caves were our caves of origin, though.  Our Q branch on the tree of man originally came from Siberia, Mongolia and parts of Turkey and we hooked up with Native Americans way back then who are on another Q twig.  There must be caves that held similar development in those places as well.  However, our twig  had migrated towards the Middle East and evidently settled in somewhere there just in time for all the history to start taking place, like Abraham's family's move there.  It looks like some stayed in Turkey.  Our Q twig makes up 5% of the Jewish male population of today.

I'm so glad that I lived in Haifa from 1980-1981 when I made aliyah to Israel.  It was there that I attended a 10 month long ulpan for teachers to retrain and work in Israel.  It is such a beautiful city, on the Mediterranean Sea, and reminded me a little of Portland for that reason.  At least I was able to walk to the beach and enjoy all the life there, from eating Shwarmas in the kiosks to the aromatic flowers of brilliant colors all in bloom.  I just wish I knew about those caves!  Hmmm, I wonder if my oil painting prowess isn't from my Neantherthal cousins!

Resource: Esther Hecht's article in October/November 2012 Hadassah magazine page 27.

No comments:

Post a Comment