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Israel´s Carmel caves listed as World Heritage sites (JERUSALEM POST) By SHARON UDASIN, JPOST.COM STAFF 06/29/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/Sci-Tech/Article.aspx?id=275737 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Committee members vote on nominations to the World Heritage List, inscribe series of adjacent caves in the Mount Carmel region. UNESCO´s World Heritage Committee on Friday voted to inscribe a series of adjacent caves in the Mount Carmel region to the World Heritage List for their fossilization of human evolution.

The four Mount Carmel caves clustered along the southern side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi El-Mughara Valley – Tabu, Jamal, El-Wad and Skhul – as well as their terraces, received nominations based on three criteria in two separate categories, “natural” and “cultural.” The sites are “located in one of the best preserved fossilized reefs of the Mediterranean region” and contain cultural deposits filled with 500,000 years of human evolution, from the Lower Paleolithic era to the present day, said a summary document that the World Heritage Committee printed in May.

The Nahal Me’arot caves provide “a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development,” according to the summary document. Archeological evidence found in the region indicates the appearance of modern humans who conducted deliberate burials and who were exploring early stone architecture, as well as transitioning from hunting and gathering to agricultural processes.

The caves feature excavated artifacts and skeletal material, remains of stone houses and pits – all “evidence of the Natufian hamlet,” the document said.

In terms of integrity, all of the caves are intact and in good condition, except for Skhul Cave, which has been defaced with graffiti and invaded by eucalyptus trees growing along the riverbed.

The document therefore recommended removing the invasive eucalyptus trees, downsizing or concealing the water pumping station at the cave and cleaning the graffiti there. In addition, the document suggests including Skhul Cave on the main tourist circuit for the region, as well as evaluating potential future erosion of rock-cut basins on the El-Wad cave’s terrace and perhaps considering adding a protective cover.

Ultimately, based on evaluations both internally and from outside sources, the World Heritage Committee document recommended that the caves be added to the World Heritage List based on two of the three criteria for which they were nominated.

Those two, both in the culture category, were sufficient to qualify the sites for inclusion in the list.

The Carmel caves will join six other Israeli sites already on the World Heritage List in the cultural category: the Bahá’i holy places in Haifa and the Western Galilee (2008), the biblical tels – Meggido, Hazor, Beersheba (2005), the Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev (2005), Masada (2001), the Old City of Acre (2001) and the White City of Tel Aviv – the Modern Movement (2003), according to UNESCO data. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/29/12)

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