In collaboration with Ofer Marder1 and Omry Barzilai2
1 Bible, Archaeology and Near East Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
2 Excavations, Survey & Research Department, Israel Antiquities Authority, PO Box 586, Jerusalem 91004, Israel
Manot Cave, located in the western Galilee (Israel), was subjected to seven seasons of excavation (2010-2016). The excavations revealed intensive and dense occupation from the Early Upper Palaeolithic, mainly of the Aurignacian cultural-complex (Barzilai et al. 2016; Marder et al. 2017).
Manot Cave general view (view to the east)
An almost complete human calvaria (Manot 1) of Homo sapiens was found in a side chamber extending eastward from the NE wall of the main cave chamber (Hershkovitz et al. 2015: Extended Data Fig. 1). This fossil was dated by uranium–thorium method to a minimum age of 54.7 ±5.5 kya BP (arithmetic mean ± 2 standard deviations). Manot 1 is similar in shape to recent African skulls as well as to European skulls from the Upper Palaeolithic period, but different from most other early anatomically modern humans in the Levant. This suggests that the Manot people could be closely related to the first modern humans who later successfully colonized Europe. Moreover, at present, Manot 1 is the only modern human specimen to provide evidence that during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic interface, both modern humans and Neanderthals contemporaneously inhabited the southern Levant; close in time to the likely interbreeding event with Neanderthals (Hershkovitz et al. 2015).
Manot 1 calvaria lateral view