sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Out of Israel?

It has been very politically correct to presume that modern humans emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Homo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago -- the earliest evidence for the existence of modern humans anywhere in the world.
Israel Hershkovitz, Patricia Smith, Rachel Sarig, Rolf Quam, Laura Rodríguez, Rebeca García, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Ran Barkai, Avi Gopher. Middle pleistocene dental remains from Qesem Cave (Israel). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21446
According to researchers, the discoveries made in the Qesem Cave may overturn the theory that modern humans originated on the continent of Africa. In recent years, archaeological evidence and human skeletons found in Spain and China also undermined this proposition, but the Qesem Cave findings because of their early age is an unprecedented discovery.

The findings were discovered in the Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayin that was first excavated in 2000. Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology, who run the excavations, and Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the university's Department of Anatomy and Anthropology and Sackler School of Medicine, together with an international team of scientists, performed a morphological analysis on eight human teeth found in the Qesem Cave.

This analysis, which included CT scans and X-rays, indicates that the size and shape of the teeth are very similar to those of modern humans. The teeth found in the Qesem Cave are very similar to other evidence of modern humans from Israel, dated to around 100,000 years ago, discovered in the Skhul Cave in the Carmel and Qafzeh Cave in the Lower Galilee near Nazareth. The results of the researchers' findings are being published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Qesem Cave is dated to a period between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, and archaeologists working there believe that the findings indicate significant evolution in the behavior of ancient humans. This period of time was crucial in the history of humankind from cultural and biological perspectives. The teeth that are being studied indicate that these changes are apparently related to evolutionary changes taking place at that time.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "400,000-year-old dental tartar provides earliest evidence of humanmade pollution: Early prehistoric 'balanced' diet and presence of respiratory irritants revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2015. .
Prof. Gopher and Dr. Barkai noted that the findings related to the culture of those who dwelled in the Qesem Cave -- including the systematic production of flint blades; the regular use of fire; evidence of hunting, cutting and sharing of animal meat; mining raw materials to produce flint tools from subsurface sources -- reinforce the hypothesis that this was, in fact, innovative and pioneering behavior that may correspond with the appearance of modern humans.

Brushing after every meal? (apparently not)

"Human teeth of this age have never been studied before for dental calculus, and we had very low expectations because of the age of the plaque," said Prof. Gopher. "However, our international collaborators, using a combination of methods, found many materials entrapped within the calculus. Because the cave was sealed for 200,000 years, everything, including the teeth and its calculus, were preserved exceedingly well."

In what Prof. Barkai describes as a "time capsule," the analysed calculus revealed three major findings: charcoal from indoor fires; evidence for the ingestion of essential plant-based dietary components; and fibers that might have been used to clean teeth or were remnants of raw materials.

"Prof. Karen Hardy published outstanding research on the dental calculus of Neanderthals from El Sidron cave in Spain, but these dated back just 40,000-50,000 years -- we are talking far earlier than this," said Prof. Barkai.

"This is the first evidence that the world's first indoor BBQs had health-related consequences," said Prof. Barkai. "The people who lived in Qesem not only enjoyed the benefits of fire -- roasting their meat indoors -- but they also had to find a way of controlling the fire -- of living with it.

19 comments:

  1. This kind of stuff does not jive very well with the creationists out there, LL. Kind of blows that 'earth created in 7 days' thing out of the water.

    They'll get over it, I'm sure.

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    1. Yes, and the Earth is more than 7,000 years old. But I still find this sort of thing intensely interesting.

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    2. Perhaps not so fast? Rather it does, and nicely, thanks.

      Not a few of us creationists out here see no necessary contradiction between Science and the Bible. Put simply, the Bible isn't intended as a manual on science any more than Einstein's Relativity is a moral guide.

      Science and the Bible answer radically different questions, each in their own way. Talking donkeys, giant marine creatures, bushes aflame without end... all of these things are within the realm of human *experience* and need not be replicable to outside observers. Who knows what Bilam had ingested?

      The fact of early humans going back 400,000 ybp yields no effect on the inherent veracity of the Six Days of Creation. Those "days" are not necessarily sequential nor fixed periods; They are descriptors of the various phases of the workings of the L-rd.

      So... my Orthodox friends in Ramat Bet Shemesh think this is great! Thanks LL for the heads-up. Nice post!

      Cheers,

      Yos
      SVP

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    3. The fact that seven period of creation are mentioned in the Bible do not mean that that the periods were all of equal duration. They provide a road map for one interested in the process that brought our world to be. I don't find this discovery disturbing to faith (anyone's faith).

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  2. Very interesting -- and very ancient...

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    1. I don't think that they were wearing yarmulkes back then.

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  3. This is the first recorded moment where whites moved to the suburbs.

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  4. Time is a flexible. Warping it may in fact be possible. We shouldn't limit our minds to three dimensional constructs. This was all foretold in Battlestar Gallactica, V. 2.0.

    I want my very own hot droid, preferably the one played by Grace Park.

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    1. You can have Park. I will take Tricia Helfer, who I just might be in love with, Cylon or no Cylon.

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  5. This will probably be ignored. Threatens way too many narratives.

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    Replies
    1. Just like global warming/global cooling/climate change (weather), etc.

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  6. Gotta agree with WSF... This IS a game changer in the anthropological world...

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    1. There are people who say "ignore archeological evidence", the earth is only 7,000 years old.

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  7. The most important take-away from this is that they had BBQ. Any narrative threatened by that is in dire need of overhaul.

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    1. I have to agree. The Africa theory is just that, a theory. They had no BBQ, but there was obviously something pretty important going on in Israel.

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    2. They may have been "early Texans" in that BBQ was very important to them. Sadly, we will never know whether the brontosaurus ribs were dry-rub or were BBQ'd wet.

      In Austin, TX, the city is trying to eliminate BBQ. The next step would be extinction.

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