Qesem Cave

The Qesem Cave ( also: breezy - cave; engl: Qesem Cave; Heb.. מערת קסם ) is about twelve kilometers east of Tel Aviv ( Israel) located, buried karst cave with the human fossil record and settlement remains from the Paleolithic.

Discovery history

The Qesem Cave is part of a karst system resulting in the Cenomanian. The later, especially in the Quaternary completely backfilled with sediment cavity was discovered in the course of blasting work for the construction of Interstate 5 in October 2000. In the cave blasted rubble bifaces and tools of the Acheulian and Yabrudien as well as blades of Amudien to a settlement pointed out that had to be at least 200,000 years old. Because of these extraordinary findings that the Israeli prehistorians Avi Gopher ( Tel Aviv University ) were immediately recognized as Middle Pleistocene, a change in the course of the road and made ​​the cave could be taken out of development plans. It got its name after the nearby Qesem Motorway Junction (as Qesem Interchange signposted in the same notation ), while the nearby village is signposted as Kaffar Qasim.

Since 2001, the Cave of prehistorians and paleontologists led by the University of Tel Aviv is studied scientifically. Since 2004 held annual excavation campaigns in the summer months. The fauna is dominated by the bones of fallow deer. Caused a stir especially the 2011 published finds of isolated human teeth that have despite their age 200000-400000 years features of anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens). Although this question is scientifically controversial, the first publication of the teeth took place shortly after the online publication in December 2010, extensive media coverage.

Human tooth finds

At the current state are 11 teeth of at least six individuals known to have the surrounding layers based on the Fund and the resting Sinterkalkes a stratigraphic age 200000-400000 years. The teeth were found in three different age layers. Three of the teeth come from a human upper jaw (tooth formula C1 - P4). The laminated sintered lime was dated using uranium -thorium method and forms the terminus ante quem of storage. The research group led by Avi Gopher and Ran Barkai ( Tel Aviv University ) reported on the findings for the first time in 2010 in a peer-reviewed journal. Under the direction of the anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz ( Tel Aviv University ) was carried out a comparison of various dental finds of the species Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens. In addition to metric characteristics X-ray and CT examinations were included. The study came to the conclusion that in this case the greatest similarity exists with the teeth from far located in the Carmel Mountains cave forecourt of Skhul and from the nearby cave of Qafzeh in Nazareth. The fossils discovered there are currently considered the oldest of modern humans outside of Africa, their age was determined to be 80,000 to 100,000 years. At no point of the essay was written, however, explicitly, so that was the assignment to Homo sapiens (or an archaic Homo sapiens) backed up.


The classification of the fossil record has been disputed. Other researchers currently assume that the features are in principle in the area of ​​overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans and the teeth therefore also can come from Neanderthals. The problem with the comparison with the teeth of Skhul and Qafzeh is that this one of the two species are also not unique to you.