Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves: My 321st UNESCO World Heritage Site
From the World Heritage inscription or the Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel:
The four Mount Carmel caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad, and Skhul) and their terraces are clustered adjacent to each other along the south side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara valley. The steep-sided valley opening to the coastal plain on the west side of the Carmel range provides the visual setting of a prehistoric habitat.
Located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region, the site contains cultural deposits representing half a million years of human evolution from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present. It is recognized as providing a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development.
Archaeological evidence covers the appearance of modern humans, deliberate burials, early manifestations of stone architecture and the transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture. The attributes carrying Outstanding Universal Value include the four caves, terraces, un-excavated deposits and excavated artifacts and skeletal material; the Nahal Me’arot/ Wadi el-Mughara landscape providing the prehistoric setting of the caves; el-Wad Terrace excavations, and remains of stone houses and pits comprising evidence of the Natufian hamlet.
Overview of the Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel
Archaeology and paleontology sites are often frustrating to visit because the things which make them interesting have been dug up and are now sitting in a museum. My visit to the Sangiran Early Man site in Indonesia was particularly underwhelming because there isn’t much to see. The importance of the site lies in what is now in a museum. Other sites like the Messel Fossil Pit, have the same problem, but they have a great interpretative center, so at least there is something to see.
The Mount Carmel caves do a good job providing an interpretive experience to explain to visitors why the caves are important. Without the interpretation, the caves are nothing but holes in the rock.
The site is of exceptional importance in the history of humanity. Located at the nexus of Asia, Europe, and Africa, there were many different human ancestors which came through this area over a period of hundred of thousands of years.
Not only were different hominid species found here, but this is also the southernmost Neanderthal remains ever found. It is also one of the few places where contemporaneous remains of modern humans and Neanderthals were found together.
How To Get There
The caves are located at the Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve which is part of the Israeli National Park system. It is easily accessible from Haifi, Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem.
By Car: Taking a car is by far the easiest way to get to the caves. The park is located on Highway 4 (Old Tel Aviv – Haifa road) 17 km/10 mi outside of Haifa.
By Bus: You can reach Nahal Mearot by bus from Haifa. Take the route 921 bus to the Geva Karmel Junction. From there it is a 1km walk to the part visitor center.
The park has two sets of operating hours for summer and winter.
Sundays thru Thursdays, Saturday: 8:00am – 3:00pm
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Sundays thru Fridays and Shabbat: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:00am – 3:00pm
Adults: NIS 22
Children: NIS 9
Groups (More Than 30)
Adults: NIS 19
Children: NIS 8
Students: NIS 9
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.
Last updated: Jul 31, 2017 @ 6:56 pm