Archaeologists have found evidence of modern humans, Homo sapiens, living in Israel 400,000 years ago. The remains found are the oldest known of the species.
The discovery was made in Qesem Cave near Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel, which has been excavated by Drs. Avi Gopher and Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University since 2000.
Researchers from Israel, the United States, and Spain analyzed the shape of eight teeth recovered from Qesem Cave. Using CT scans and X-rays, they found that the teeth are very similar to the teeth of today’s people.
The researchers think that the site was occupied from 420,000 years ago to 200,000 years ago, and five of the eight teeth examined were dated to at least 300,000 years ago.
They also found evidence that the humans who occupied the site used fire regularly and had a systematic way of producing flint blades.
The results were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
It was previously widely believed that Homo sapiens came into being 200,000 years ago in Africa. According to the researchers, their discovery, together with finds from China and Spain, could overturn the theory that modern humans started life on the African continent.
Read the research paper here.