Israel´s Carmel caves listed as World Heritage sites (JERUSALEM POST) By SHARON UDASIN, JPOST.COM STAFF 06/29/12)
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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
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
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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