A Neanderthal settlement occupied by our ancient relatives several times over the course of 10,000 years has been discovered by archaeologists in northern Israel.
The place A Qashish was first identified in 2005, when artefacts and flint bones were created. To date, Stone Age has been found. After the site was damaged in the construction of a road, the researchers were able to excavate almost half of the huge area in 2013. At that time, they came across the remains of three individuals, two of whom could be identified as Neanderthals.
The discovery allowed the archaeologists to create a picture of the inhabitants of the settlement – even if they lived there and why they used the site. The results have now been published in the journal PLOS One.
The researchers, led by Ravid Ekshtain of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, analyzed a 4.5-meter-thick layer that they dated 71
Analysis of the found artifacts and bones revealed that the villagers produced tools in this location and killed and consumed animals, including aurochs, deer and gazelles.
"We found that the site contained evidence for meat consumption, Chert's transport of short and long hauls to the site, and evidence for the local shortage," Ekshtain told Newsweek .
] "One of the finds was a large sub-skeleton of a wild cattle, including cores, located in an area surrounded by many flint artefacts, which is the place of death of the animal as it is unlikely to be such a large animal was transported to a butcher shop in a range of consumer activities. "
Normally, Neanderthal settlements are located in caves – these habitats offered protection from the elements and a relatively constant temperature, being cool in summer and warm in winter. "A Qashish is unusual in that it is open air."
Ekshtain said the site would have been attractive to Neanderthals because it was near a source of water and various ecological niches, including mountains and a relatively low plateau. "The inhabitants of the area could hunt animals using different habitats," he said.
The team suspects that open air areas such as A Qashish were used more by Neanderthals than previously thought. They will now analyze the artifacts found and get an even clearer picture of how the site was used – from the way animals were exploited to the way tools were built and used. This includes the purpose of some unusual limestone slabs that appear to have been used as an anvil "for purposes that are not yet known".
There are indications that Neanderthals disappeared from the Levant about 50,000 years ago. "A Qashish dates very shortly before the end of this period [and] and appears to be a place of repeated occupations," Ekshtain said. "Each occupation involved a series of general activities that indicated a complex and robust open-air settlement system, but the reasons for leaving the site or region are not yet clear."
Annemieke Milks, an archaeologist from Great Britain. s UCL, which was not involved in the study, told Newsweek that the results provide "exciting insight" into the potential settlement systems of Neanderthals. "We know that certain places like La Cotte de St. Brelade in Jersey were 'stable places' that Neanderthals used for long periods of time, but these are usually cave or rock shelters, the natural places for residential use ", she said. "The evidence from & # 39; A Qashish proves the repeated use of an outdoor location over a very long period of at least 10,000 years and appears to have been increasingly used for a variety of activities, including those we normally associate with living spaces & # 39; A Qashish is a rare open-air site that helps us understand the uses and behavior of Neanderthal landscapes. "